Too many of us avoid sweating. When we do sweat, we usually make a great effort to conceal it.
When the weather is hot or your body temperature rises due to exercise or fever, sweat is released through ducts in your skin. It moistens the surface of your body and cools you down as it evaporates.
Sweating is vital to our health. Ritual sweating has been used for therapeutic, cleansing purposes and for spiritual and emotional healing. Celtic vapor baths, North American sweat lodges, and Scandinavian saunas are all traditions from long ago that have been adapted in modern times for their health and healing benefits.
Our skin, which is the largest organ, is essentially our third kidney. Sweat glands help our skin filter toxins out of the body, which in turn boosts our immune system. Sweating also cools our body and maintains proper body temperature.
Your body is equipped with an average of three million sweat glands. There are two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine.
- Eccrine glands produce most of your sweat, especially the watery kind. But eccrine perspiration doesn’t taste like water, because bits of salt, protein, urea, and ammonia gets mixed into it. These glands are mostly concentrated on the palms, soles, forehead, and armpit, but cover your entire body.
- Apocrine glands are larger. They’re mostly located on the armpits, groin, and breast area. They’re the ones most often associated with BO and produce more concentrated secretions after puberty. Since they’re near hair follicles, they typically smell the worst. This is why people often say stress sweat smells worse than other types of sweat. Apocrine glands primarily produce sweat triggered by emotional stressors, like fear and anxiety, along with body odor. These glands release a heavier, fat-laden sweat that carries a distinct odor. The smell, referred to as body odor, occurs when apocrine sweat breaks down and mixes with the bacteria on your skin.
When we do sweat all over, as with intense exercise, good things happen to our body:
- circulation increases throughout our organs, muscles, and tissue
- our skin releases toxins, like alcohol and waste products, to help our bodies detoxify
- the elimination of salt from the body can help prevent kidney stones from forming
- prolonged sweating also leads to increased thirst and the need to drink more water, which is good for the kidneys
Your autonomic nervous system controls your sweating function. This is the part of your nervous system that functions on its own, without your conscious control.
Sweating is normal and occurs regularly in your daily living. Elevated body or environmental temperatures are the primary cause of increased sweating. Emotions can make you break out in a sweat:
- emotional stress
Sweating may be a response to the foods you eat as well. This type of perspiration is called gustatory sweating. It can be provoked by:
- spicy foods
- caffeinated drinks, including soda, coffee, and tea
- alcoholic beverages – alcohol can speed up your heart rate and dilate blood vessels. This reaction, in turn, tricks your body into thinking it needs to cool itself down by sweating.
Sweating may also be caused by medication use and certain illnesses, such as:
- fever and fever-reducing drugs
- hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels)
- painkillers, including morphine
- synthetic thyroid hormones
- complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), a rare form of chronic pain that usually affects an arm or leg
The hormonal fluctuations associated with menopause can also trigger sweating. Menopausal women often experience night sweats and sweating during hot flashes.
On top of stimulating sweat, foods can also affect how you smell when you sweat. As byproducts of certain foods are secreted, they interact with the bacteria on our skin, causing a foul-smelling odor. High levels of sulfur in foods like garlic and onions, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, and Brussel sprouts may also change your body odor.
One of the best ways to increase sweat production is to exercise, whether it is moderate or intense activity. Exercise outdoors as much as possible to expose your skin to sunlight and promote the production of vitamin D. Sweating unclogs pores, which in turn helps you synthesize vitamin D more efficiently. Remember, the more you exercise, the quicker you sweat.
- Exercising in a heated room (Bikram yoga and other hot yoga) promotes sweating; however, use caution when exercising in a heated environment and take it slow if you are just starting out. As with any kind of exercise, be sure to stay hydrated during and after physical activity.
- Saunas are an excellent way to promote all-over sweating and are used for detoxification and disease-prevention. Saunas help kill viruses and can release toxins on a cellular level, which is important to think about considering how often we are exposed to chemicals and toxins in our environment, food, and the products we use. There are basically two kinds of saunas: 1) Infrared saunas use infrared light as radiant heat (but at a lower temperature), essentially penetrating and heating your body tissue. 2) Traditional saunas (Finnish-style saunas) use higher temperatures to heat up an area, thus heating the body from the outside in. To help detoxify your body, use a sauna one to two times a week and for up to 10–20 minutes once you start sweating. (Be sure to limit sauna use to once or twice a week.) It’s important to hydrate with fresh, filtered water when you are in the sauna and continue rehydrating with it afterwards. When finished with the sauna, be sure to take a shower to remove the residue, toxins, and impurities on your skin. Affordable home saunas can be found online and are a convenient and sustainable option, or find a local sauna studio, gym, or wellness spa that specializes in infrared sauna sessions. I have a Relax Far Infrared Sauna.
Heavy sweating is a great way to facilitate your body’s natural ability to detox. Some veggies might cause a certain smell, but a 2006 study found that a vegetarian’s body odor is more attractive than a carnivore’s. The study included 30 women who sniffed and judged two-week-old armpit pads that were worn by men. They declared that men on a nonmeat diet had a more attractive, pleasant, and less intense smell, compared to those who ate red meat.
In the past, researchers had pretty much always concluded that men sweat more than women. A 2010 study concluded that women have to work harder than men to work up a sweat. However, in a more recent study from 2017, researchers found that it actually has nothing to do with sex, but instead has to do with body size.
Hormone levels fluctuate as we age and body odor can increase. Researchers looked into body odor and aging and detected an unpleasant grassy and greasy odor that was only in people 40 and over.
People often use deodorant as an overarching term when it comes to BO. However, there’s a key difference between deodorant and antiperspirants. Deodorants simply mask the smell of body odor, while antiperspirants actually block glands from sweating, typically using aluminum to do so.
Sweat itself is colorless. When people find yellow stains under the arms of white shirts or on white sheets, it is due to a chemical reaction between your sweat and your antiperspirant or clothes. Aluminum is an active ingredient in many antiperspirants and, when it mixes with the salt in sweat, it leads to yellow stains. There is a concern about aluminum in antiperspirants and other skin care products being linked to breast cancers.
Some people are saltier sweaters than others. You can tell if you’re a salty sweater if your eyes sting when sweat drips into them, an open cut burns when you sweat, you feel gritty after a sweaty workout, or you even just taste it. This may be tied to your diet and because you drink a lot of water.
The amount you sweat is dependent on genetics, both on average and to the extreme. For example, hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that causes someone to sweat approximately four times more than what is needed for cooling the body, Nearly 5% of Americans have this condition. Some cases are due to genetics.
People with hypohidrosis sweat too little. While genetics factor into this, medication to treat nerve damage and dehydration can also be credited as a cause.
There is also a genetic sweating disorder called trimethylaminuria. This is when your sweat smells like fish or rotting eggs.
According to 2015 research, you can produce a certain odor that indicates happiness. This scent is then detectable by others, stimulating a feeling of happiness in them as well. Happiness sweating, who knew?
Baking soda is a familiar household product that also goes by the names sodium bicarbonate, bicarbonate of soda and sodium hydrogen carbonate. The baking soda chemical formula – the sodium bicarbonate formula is – NaHCO3. This baking soda formula represents its composition of of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. It’s a substance known for its alkalizing effects thanks to the ph of 9.
In its most natural form, sodium bicarbonate is also known as nahcolite, a mineral that is found in various locations around the world. It is commercially mined in areas of California, Colorado, Botswana and Kenya. There are also large deposits in Mexico, Uganda, Turkey and Mexico.
Baking soda is a chemical leavening agent and so is baking powder, which means that when used in baking both baking soda and baking powder cause batters to rise. Baking soda is 100 percent sodium bicarbonate; so when mixed with acid, it makes bubbles and gives off a carbon dioxide gas, causing the dough to rise. Baking powder and soda are similar yet different since baking powder is made up of sodium bicarbonate and one or multiple acid salts.
Although baking soda is mainly known as an ingredient for baking and something which helps to keep our refrigerators odor-free, it is also good for your health and your entire home.
Baking soda has been used since ancient times as a deodorizer, soother and cleanser. Baking soda uses range from basic daily hygiene in toothpaste and shampoo. Baking soda health benefits including digestive issues and even kidney problems.
Sodium bicarbonate is sometimes used as a supplement because it provides dietary bicarbonate. When taken orally, it can raise serum levels of bicarbonate. Bicarbonate is typically made by the kidneys, and it acts as an acid buffer in the body.
Baking soda is known to help to neutralize acid and improve pH balance in the body. It is often used internally to calm acid reflux or heartburn. If you have over consumed acidic foods or feel you are in an acidic state, slowly drinking some baking soda in water can help to neutralize acid and get your body’s pH back to normal. (Don’t think more is better when it comes to taking baking soda. It’s important to note that consuming too much baking soda can cause an increase in acid production.)
Baking soda has been shown to kill off bacteria including Streptococcus mutans, which is a type of bacteria associated with tooth decay. It is also effective against various fungal groups including yeasts, dermatophytes and molds that cause skin and nail infections in humans.
A clinical study published in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology looked at the effects of sodium bicarbonate on 134 patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and low blood bicarbonate levels. The subjects who supplemented with bicarbonate tolerated it well and were significantly less likely to experience rapid progression of their kidney disease. Additionally, there were less patients that developed end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in the bicarbonate group compared to the control group. Overall, the researchers conclude, “This study demonstrates that bicarbonate supplementation slows the rate of progression of renal failure to ESRD and improves nutritional status among patients with CKD.”
According to the CDC, urinary tract infections (UTIs) are one of the most common infections and as Mayo Clinic points out, women have a higher risk of developing a UTI than men. A scientific study published in 2017 looked at the effects of baking soda on female patients with lower urinary tract symptoms who also had acidic urine pH levels lower than six. After four weeks of taking it orally, the researchers found the urine of the subjects was alkalinized and there was a “a significant level of positive effects on symptoms and symptom scores.”
Overall, baking soda appears to be an easy, inexpensive way to improve UTI symptoms accompanied by acidic urine with little to no unwanted side effects.
For cancer patients, rinsing with a baking soda mixture daily can help to improve unwanted side effects to the mouth and throat. Combine a fourth of a teaspoon of baking soda, an eighth of a teaspoon of sea salt with one cup of warm and rinse your mouth three times per day.
Uses for baking soda
- Natural Deodorant – Create your own deodorant by mixing a teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to create a milky baking soda paste, then rub it under your underarms or even on your feet.
- Face Exfoliator – Remove dry skin from your face by creating your own baking soda exfoliant. Combine one teaspoon with half a cup of water and rub it on your face in a circular motion, then rinse. Using baking soda for face exfoliation is an inexpensive way to refine skin, just don’t use it too frequently because you don’t want it to upset the pH balance of your skin.
- Hand Softener – To scrub away dirt and odors, mix baking soda with warm water and rub it on your hands. It will leave your hands clean and soft.
- Foot Soother – Create your own foot bath with a tablespoon of baking soda and warm water. This baking soda bath will remove bacteria and odors and can help to prevent toenail fungus.
- Itchy Skin Relief – Baking soda can help to reduce discomfort from sunburn, allergic rashes, and skin affected by poison ivy or poison oak. Mix a teaspoon with some water to create a baking soda paste and apply it to the areas of concern. Leave it on for several minutes and then rinse. You can do this a few times per day as needed.
- Splinter Removal – Splinters will come out naturally after a few days of soaking in baking soda (use a mix that includes a tablespoon of baking soda and warm water). Soak the affected area twice a day in the baking soda water.
- Bug Bite Soother – Rub baking soda on your bug bite to relieve the itching. Create a paste with a teaspoon of baking soda and water. Apply the soda paste about three times a day until the bite dissipates.
- Sunburn Relief – Soak in a warm (not hot) bath that includes half a cup of baking soda. You can also mix it into your favorite body lotion to calm a sunburn.
- Hair Cleanser – Add a teaspoon to your shampoo, rub it into your hair and rinse as usual. Baking soda shampoo is ultra clarifying so it’s a great way to remove dirt and oil as well as residue that is left over from hair products.
- Brush and Comb Cleaner – Create a paste by combining two teaspoons of baking soda with one cup of water. Coat your brushes and combs with this paste and then rinse thoroughly.
- Homemade Toothpaste – Baking soda toothpaste is a great way to improve dental health. It is known to increase plaque removal – that is why it’s commonly used in both conventional and natural toothpaste. Straight baking soda has abrasive qualities, and over time it may wear away enamel. Instead, to keep fresh breath, you can add it to your toothpaste, make your own homemade toothpaste, or just dip your toothbrush in baking soda a few times a week.
- Teeth Whitener – Once a week, rub the paste onto your teeth, let it sit for five minutes, and then rinse your mouth. This is a natural way to whiten your teeth and kill bacteria without any harsh and questionable chemicals.
- Heartburn and Indigestion Relief – Conventional manufacturers of heartburn medications include sodium bicarbonate in their formulates. It is a cost-effective way to reduce heartburn and indigestion, as opposed to other options like Tums and Rolaids, which also contain bicarbonate. Simply add half a teaspoon to two cups of water. Drink this mixture an hour after eating.
- Cancer Prevention – When you have a pH imbalance, unhealthy organisms are able to flourish, which damages tissues and organs, and compromises the immune system. Baking soda is known to increase the pH of acidic tumors without affecting the pH balance of healthy tissues and the blood. Scientific research has demonstrated that oral doses of sodium bicarbonate can raise tumor pH and inhibit spontaneous metastases in animal models of metastatic breast cancer.
- Exercise Enhancer – Soaking in a warm warm with a half cup of baking soda added is said to help neutralize lactic acid build up in the muscles after a workout. Some studies, suggest internal use to reduce fatigue post-workout. It also may enhance athletic performance when consumed prior to physical activity.
- Improve Kidney Function – As an alkaline substance, baking soda buffers acids in the body and helps to keep pH levels balanced. Low-functioning kidneys have a hard time removing acid from the body, so consuming baking soda can help with just that and some research has shown it may slow the progress of chronic kidney disease.
- Reduce Ulcer Pain – Because baking soda neutralizes stomach acid, it can helpful for ulcers. Speak with your doctor first, but taking it in water internally may help relieve ulcer symptoms.
- Natural Kitchen Scrub – Sprinkle baking soda on the surfaces in your kitchen and use a sponge or rag to scrub. You can add a few drops of lemon, lavender or peppermint essential oil to add a natural fragrance to this DIY cleaning product.
- Pots and Pans Cleaner – Baking soda can be used to hand wash pots and pans. Just let them soak in baking soda for 15 to 20 minutes and the grease or baked-on food will dissolve.
- Carpet Cleaner – Many carpet cleaners include chemicals that can be harmful to your pets or children, so use baking soda to give your carpet a good cleaning and neutralize odors. Sprinkle your carpet with it; let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, and then vacuum.
- Gentle Baby Clothes Cleanser – Baking soda can be used as a natural cleanser, detergent booster and even a fabric softener. Add one cup to your load of laundry.
- Fruit and Veggie Scrub – Make your own natural scrub by adding a teaspoon to water. The pasty mixture is a perfect way to remove bacteria from your fruits and veggies.
- Silverware Cleaner – Create a paste that is three parts baking soda and one part water. Rub the paste onto your silverware and let it sit in a large tray or bowl. After 15 to 20 minutes, rinse the silverware.
- Oven Cleaner – Don’t use harmful chemicals to clean your oven; instead, just add a teaspoon of baking soda to a damp sponge or rag. This combination will wipe away food and grease easily.
- Drain Cleaner – Mix baking soda and vinegar to create your own drain cleaner. A vinegar and baking soda mixture is a much safer option than the harmful chemicals that are typically used to clear drains. Let the combination bubble for 15 minutes, then rinse with hot water.
- Dish-Washer Helper – Add to your regular dish washing cycle; it will help to eliminate unwanted grease and grime that builds up on your dishes.
- Fire Extinguisher -Use baking soda to extinguish minor grease fires in your kitchen. Pouring it on a small pan fire will stifle the flames quickly.
- Shoe Deodorizer – Sprinkle it inside your shoes to deodorize them.
- Coffee and Tea Pot Cleaner – To remove coffee stains and funky tastes from your coffee or tea pot, make this quick mixture: one-fourth cup of baking soda with one quart of warm water. Rub the mixture on and in your pots; if you are battling tough stains, let it sit for a few hours first and then rinse.
- Shower-Curtain Cleaner – Get rid of stains on shower curtains by rubbing baking soda onto them.
- Closet Freshener – To freshen your closet, place a box or cup of baking soda inside. Periodically change it.
- Wash Your Car – Create a paste with one-fourth cup of baking soda with one cup of warm water. With a sponge or rag, rub the paste onto your car (tires, lights, seats, windows) and then rinse. Or dilute in a gallon of water to remove dirt and grime off your paint as well. Make sure to thoroughly dissolve as baking soda is abrasive in its powdered state.
- Kitty-Litter Deodorizer – To naturally deodorize your cat box, cover the bottom of the box with baking soda first, and then fill it in with kitty litter as usual. After cleaning out the liter, give the box some extra deodorization by sprinkling baking soda on top. It will not hurt your cat.
How to Buy
Many co-ops have baking soda in bulk bins. It is available year-round on grocery shelves in the baking section.
How to Store
Once you open a new box of baking soda, transfer it to an airtight container to help it stay fresh. Don’t keep it in its cardboard box because it isn’t resealable. Since one of the best uses for baking soda is absorbing odors, leaving it open in your pantry will just allow it to absorb the odors in the cabinet.
While the expiration date on the box may be up to a year or two from the date of purchase, the potency of the baking soda starts declining six months after you open it. An airtight container can help maximize its shelf life.
If you’re unsure whether the baking soda is still fresh, place 1/4 teaspoon baking soda in a cup and add 2 teaspoons vinegar. If the baking soda doesn’t bubble, it’s old and should be replaced.
How to Cook
Leaving baking soda out of recipes will prevent it from rising.
If you are out of baking soda, you can try these substitutes:
- Baking powder is another leavening agent that can replace baking soda, but its effect isn’t as strong. Use about three times the amount of baking powder as you would baking soda.
- Potassium bicarbonate is an effective substitute for baking soda and can be replaced in a 1:1 ratio. Because it doesn’t contain sodium like regular baking soda, you may want to add more salt to your recipe to account for changes in flavor.
- Baker’s ammonia can be used in a 1:1 ratio for replacing baking soda. It is best for baked goods that are thin and crispy like cookies and crackers.
- Self-rising flour contains baking powder and salt, so it may be used to replace baking soda in some recipes. Keep in mind that you’ll need to adjust certain ingredients.
Irish Soda Bread/ Vegan and Gluten Free
Vaishali Recipe and Photo Credit
- 3 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (I used King Arthur gf measure for measure flour)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 ½ cups nondairy milk (I used almond milk)
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp vegan butter (melted)
- 3 tbsp aquafaba (chickpea brine)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whisk together the nondairy milk and apple cider vinegar. Add the melted butter and aquafaba and mix well.
In a large bowl, mix the gf flour, baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch and salt.
Pour in the milk-aquafaba mixture, mixing with a spatula, to form a shaggy dough. Make sure all the dry ingredients are mixed together. You can also do this in a stand mixer with the paddle blade attached.
Let the dough stand 15 minutes. Spray an 8-inch cast iron skillet with cooking spray or coat with melted butter. You can also use a baking sheet for this.
Flour your hands and lift the dough. Form it into a ball as best as you can. and place it into the skillet. Using a sharp knife, score a deep cross across the top.
Brush on some melted butter over the top of the bread. Place the skillet or baking sheet and bake 45-50 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when you knock the bottom.
Cool for at least half an hour, then slice and serve.