Can Eating Certain Foods Make You Sweat?
March is National Nutrition Month, so we thought we’d take the opportunity to take a closer look at the link between food, sweating, and hyperhidrosis! National Nutrition Month is an educational and informational campaign that aims to spread awareness about the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
Sweating following the consumption of certain foods is something that a lot of us experience, particularly after eating hot and/or spicy foods. Certain foods are known to cause excessive sweating due to the various effects they have on the body, in relation to digestion, thermoregulation, and stimulation of the nervous system.
Diet-Induced Thermogenesis (DIT) is the production of heat that occurs after eating. Also known as the thermic effect of food, it is the energy that is produced as the result of the body metabolizing the food we have consumed. It is dependent upon the foods we eat, how much energy is burned, as well as our individual body composition.
The hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for regulating body temperature (and therefore, sweating), is also responsible for monitoring the intake of calories and sending a signal for extra energy to be burned, therefore generating heat. When you eat, your body expends extra energy breaking down that food, though generally not enough to trigger an increase in body temperature. However, in some cases, it can raise the body’s temperature just enough to activate the body’s cooling mechanism, also known as perspiration.
While nutrition is not thought to have a significant impact on hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), avoiding certain foods that can trigger a sweating response, as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle can benefit the individual. We’ve compiled a list of some key foods and drinks that can trigger a sweat response from the body when consumed. Some of these include…
- Caffeine stimulates the nervous system, which increases sweating. It can also raise your blood pressure and heart rate, therefore kicking your sweat glands into high gear.
- Alcohol’s toxins enlarge blood vessels throughout the body, which can cause your skin to feel warm and flushed. This is caused by your blood vessels widening (a process called vasodilation), that activates your body’s cooling mechanism, which causes you to sweat.
Hot and Spicy Foods
- This one is a given—when you eat hot and spicy foods containing capsaicin (the active ingredient that makes peppers hot), your body temperature rises, causing your body to start sweating in order to cool down. Essentially it mimics the response your body would have if it were introduced to a hot environment. Capsaicin activates certain chemical receptors, which causes a reflexive cooling response. Eating hot foods (like soup) has a similar effect on the body.
- Foods that fall into this category include fast food, pre-packaged meals, and highly-processed foods often referred to as junk food. Things like processed white bread do not have a lot of fiber, making them more difficult to digest, which makes your body work harder to digest them, which can lead to an increase in body temperature, and thus, sweating.
- They don’t call them the ‘meat sweats’ for nothing! While it is a medically unsubstantiated phenomenon, it has become the term used by individuals who have noticed an increase in sweat production after eating a lot of protein-rich meats (often by competitive eaters).
- When it comes to foods, fats are the easiest to digest (their effect on the internal thermometer is relatively minimal), proteins are the most difficult (your body burns 3-7 times more calories in order to digest them), and carbohydrates fall somewhere in the middle. Essentially, protein has a high thermic effect on the body; the “meat sweats” is based on the thought that by consuming a lot of protein at once, the body would have to burn a lot of energy to digest them, therefore slightly raising your body temperature causing you to sweat.
Highly acidic foods and high-sugar foods can also lead to excessive sweating due to the effects they have on the body. People have different reactions to food and drink; it all comes down to body chemistry! Additionally, while some foods may not cause you to sweat excessively, they may make your sweat smell bad, leading to unpleasant body odor (BO). Garlic, onions, and sulfur-rich foods are the main offenders, so stay clear of them if you have an important event coming up!
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