Body Odor And Food: 7 Foods That Could Make Your Body Odor Worse

Posted by Sughra Hafeez in Health and Fitness

Sometimes good hygiene isn't enough to eliminate body odor. Here are the foods to watch for.


Body odor causes

Body odor is caused by the combined action of your sweat glands and the skin with volatile compounds you generate and bacterial activity. Many people think that sweat is the main cause of body odor but, believe it or not, sweat itself is completely odorless. Eating foods with certain chemical elements can seriously intensify that odor to an almost unbearable level.


David Pariser, M.D., a dermatologist, explains:

"Your body has two types of sweat glands. Eccrine glands produce the relatively stink-free watery sweat that covers your body after a tough workout. Apocrine glands, on the other hand, live in your underarms and groin, where they secrete oily substances that account for most of your body odor."


George Preti, Ph.D., an organic chemist who studies body odor at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, says:

"We don’t know if these types of odors are transmitted into the underarm secretions from food, but we do know that most of the people walking around the planet have the ability to produce these odors in their underarm."


The odor is temporary.

Debra Jailman, a dermatologist, says: "It will only take two hours for the body to start smelling, and it can also last up to a few hours."

Here are five types of foods that cause body odor and consume them in moderation if you are a regular victim of this disorder.

Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the family Brassicaceae such as cauliflower, cabbage, garden cress, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and similar green leafy vegetables. cruciferous vegetables can affect body odor because of the vegetables’ sulfur compounds. Lily Talakoub, M.D., a dermatologist at McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center, says: "For some people, body odor might be caused by foods that contain sulfur, such as broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower. Regardless of whether you eat them raw or if you cook them, it’s the way the body breaks it down."

Despite the olfactory risk, Jaliman says, "Cruciferous vegetables are very healthy and you shouldn’t avoid them based on a little body odor."

Onions and garlic

Onions and garlic produce bad-smelling, sulfur-containing gases that can cause body odor up to 24 hours later. Preti says, "Many of these volatile sulfur compounds have a high odor impact and can be detected at very low concentrations. You can’t discount the fact that people are emitting most of the odors through their mouth. Every time they are breathing, they are exhaling onions and garlic, which creates a little cloud around them of [onion or] garlic smell."


Red meat

Red meat requires maximum digestion effort for your body to process. Over-eating will lead to issues like perspiration and unwanted sweat. In a small study published in Chemical Senses in 2006, women rated the scent of men, obtained from their armpits, as significantly more pleasant, attractive, and less intense when they were on a nonmeat diet in comparison to when they consumed red meat.


People with a metabolic disorder called trimethylaminuria (TMAU) can develop a fishy odor when they eat fish and some other high-protein foods. Dr. Swartzberg says, "These are inborn errors of metabolism where people can’t break down certain types of protein. As trimethylamine builds up, it gets into your urine. You can smell it on your breath and also in your sweat as well."


"The alcohol is metabolized in the liver and broken into acetaldehyde that goes through your lungs into your breath, but it also gets to the pores," Dr. Swartzberg explains. Excessive alcohol, in particular, may cause body odor. Try to stick to just two drinks a day, the recommended limit for men.