January 3, 2017
Why Do Our Bodies Sweat?
Find out the real reasons behind why we sweat
Photo courtesy of @marthaeelman on Instagram/Schmidt’s
By Schmidt's HQ
It’s uncomfortable, smelly, and embarrassing — it’s sweat. But why do we sweat and is it actually something we should be embarrassed about?
The truth is, there are actually lots of good reasons to sweat, and why we sweat has a lot to do with our body’s natural processes which are known to have positive impacts for our health. It also turns out that some of us are naturally predisposed to sweat more than others, and that the types of sweat we produce are very different.
What is sweat?
A lot of people assume that sweat is just water, but it’s more than that. Okay, so it’s actually 99 percent water — but let’s not discount the remaining 1%, which is comprised of carbs, protein, and urea (a vessel for excreting nitrogen from our bodies).
Did you know that there are actually two kinds of sweat glands? And, one of them is found primarily in the underarm.
First, we have the eccrine sweat glands . These are found throughout the body and their primary function is to regulate your body temperature by continuously delivering water to the surface of your skin. That’s right, they don’t ever stop. They’re always working.
The second type of sweat glands are primarily found in the underarm area. These are the apocrine glands, and they secrete the“milky” sweat that interacts with bacteria responsible for body odor. Contrary to the eccrine glands, they only work part-time.
Your body is constantly expelling and replenishing its supply of water to fulfill necessary functions that keep your body temperature regulated and eliminate toxins. Amazingly, there are between 2 and 4 million sweat glands in your body. While eccrine glands cover the whole body and are found in lower concentrations (about 650 per square inch), the apocrine glands are much more tightly packed into very specific areas of our bodies: underarms, nipples, ear canals, eyelids, genitalia, and nostrils.
Remember that you’ve got a whole army of glands working for you. The human body is truly a marvel, and the constant activity of our millions of sweat glands is a testament to that.
Why do we sweat?
Sweating is the body’s natural process of keeping your body temperature regulated, detoxifying your body by expelling solids and metals, and transferring salt back into the bloodstream to maintain proper salinity levels. With all the apparent benefits of sweating, it’s easy to see that it’s actually a positive and healthy function.
To help control sweat production, many people choose to wear antiperspirants, which contain aluminum salts — typically a blend of aluminum chloride or aluminum zirconium, of which 18 different varieties are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for over-the-counter antiperspirant products. Aluminum salts in antiperspirants work to form insoluble plugs within sweat ducts in your underarms to temporarily prevent sweat from reaching the surface of the skin.
At Schmidt’s, we believe it’s possible to sweat for all the good reasons, and still keep odor at bay. You can read more about the difference between aluminum-based antiperspirants and natural deodorants (that don’t formulate with aluminum) here.
Photo courtesy of @whoaitskeke on Instagram/Schmidt’s
Is it just me or does everyone sweat?
Not everyone sweats. It’s rare, but some people have a condition called anhidrosis that leaves them incapable of sweating normally. You might be more familiar with the opposite condition — hyperhidrosis — which causes excessive sweating and can lead to uncomfortable social situations. Most of us land somewhere in between these two extremes, where the apocrine sweat glands are not always“on” but are activated by factors such as exercise, stress, or climate.
Though many can have feelings of shame and discomfort associated with sweat, it’s important to remember that (almost) everyone sweats. It’s normal to sweat, even excessively at times, and there’s no reason to feel bad about it.
So, when do we sweat?
All the time. We’re sweating even if we don’t realize it. The eccrine glands are always active, but the sweat evaporates upon reaching the surface of the skin so we don’t necessarily notice it. Which leads to perhaps a more pressing question:When do the apocrine glands (the more commonly known ones located in your underarms) turn on?
There are four common triggers to sweating:
When the body kicks into overdrive, sweat glands turn on to compensate. This is one of the fastest ways to generate large quantities of sweat, and why we so closely associate sweat with physical activity.
Lack of airflow to the underarms
Ever notice a sudden clamminess under the arms when you’re bundled up? Without ways for air to escape from the underarms, a microclimate under the arms is created that is conducive to sweating.
Yep, stress can trigger adrenaline which in turn activates the sweat glands. Don’t sweat it.
The body loves to sweat when it’s hot outside, or when you’re feeling warm, to keep your body temperature at a safe and constant level.
If you’re looking to naturally reduce sweat production, you can wear loose fitting and comfortable clothing, and avoid synthetic fabrics that encourage sweating. When stressed, take a moment to treat yourself to a coping skill to reverse or slow the sweat production process (we’re big fans of deep breathing). It can be very difficult to find calm when stressed or under pressure. Think of sweating as a mindfulness tool that’s presenting you with an opportunity to relax.
And don’t forget, you can always allow yourself to sweat — without the stink — with a natural deodorant. Schmidt’s deodorants are not antiperspirants and therefore do not contain any added aluminum salts, instead using natural plant powders like arrowroot powder or minerals like magnesium hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to help keep you fresh.
The Natural should not be considered medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please consult a physician.
- all about sweat
Should You Still be Concerned about Aluminum in Antiperspirants?
We break it down for you
December 12, 2019