Surprising Reasons You May Smell Bad — Eat This Not That


We all know that poor hygiene can lead to bad body odor, but did you know that there are other surprising reasons you may smell bad? Eating certain foods, taking certain medications, and even having certain medical conditions can all contribute to body odor. In this article, we’ll explore some of the surprising reasons you may smell bad and what you can do to reduce or eliminate the odor. We’ll also provide some tips on what to eat and what to avoid to help keep your body odor under control.

Surprising Reasons You May Smell Bad

We all want to smell our best, but sometimes, no matter how much deodorant we use, we can still end up with an unpleasant odor. While there are some obvious causes of bad body odor, such as not showering regularly or not changing your clothes often enough, there are some surprising reasons you may be smelling less than fresh.

1. You’re Eating the Wrong Foods

Certain foods can cause your body to produce an unpleasant odor. Foods like garlic, onions, and spicy foods can all contribute to bad body odor. Eating too much sugar can also cause your sweat to smell sweet, which can be unpleasant. To avoid this, try to limit your intake of these foods and opt for healthier alternatives.

2. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water

Staying hydrated is essential for your overall health, but it can also help keep your body odor in check. When you don’t drink enough water, your body can become dehydrated, which can cause your sweat to smell more pungent. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and your sweat smelling fresh.

3. You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep

Getting enough sleep is important for your overall health, but it can also help keep your body odor in check. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body can become stressed, which can cause your sweat to smell more pungent. Make sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night to keep your body odor in check.

4. You’re Wearing the Wrong Clothes

The type of clothes you wear can also affect your body odor. Synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon can trap sweat and bacteria, which can cause an unpleasant odor. To avoid this, opt for natural fabrics like cotton and linen, which allow your skin to breathe and help keep your body odor in check.

5. You’re Not Showering Enough

Showering regularly is essential for keeping your body odor in check. Not showering often enough can cause bacteria to build up on your skin, which can lead to an unpleasant odor. Make sure to shower at least once a day to keep your body odor in check.

Eat This Not That

To keep your body odor in check, make sure to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods that can cause your body to produce an unpleasant odor, such as garlic, onions, and spicy foods. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated and get at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Wear natural fabrics like cotton and linen, and make sure to shower at least once a day.

Everyone has a unique body odor, but when the scent turns unpleasant it’s time to look into the underlying cause. Body odor happens, “when your sweat comes in contact with the bacteria on your skin. Sweat itself doesn’t smell, but when the bacteria on your skin mix with your sweat, it causes an odor,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. And believe it or not, “Your body odor can say a lot about your health. Sudden changes in body odor can be caused by various factors,” Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies tells Eat This, Not That! Health. Dr. Mitchell tells us seven ways your body odor can change and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.

fodmaps garlic onion scallions

According to Dr. Mitchell, “What you eat can affect the way you smell. When your digestive system breaks down the food you eat, it releases compounds absorbed into your bloodstream and eventually excreted through your skin. Certain foods, such as garlic and onions, contain sulfur-containing compounds that can make your sweat smell terrible. Other foods, such as curry and cumin, contain spices that can also contribute to body odor. In some cases, a sudden change in diet can cause a temporary change in body odor. For example, if you eat many garlic-rich foods, you may notice that your sweat smells like garlic for a few days. This is because it takes time for the sulfur-containing compounds to be eliminated from your body. Once they are gone, your body odor will return to normal.”

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man holding pill glass of water at home on the sofa

Dr. Mitchell says, “Body odor is a complex process that can be affected by many different factors, including diet, stress, and medical conditions. Medications can also have an impact on body odor.  For example, anticholinergics, which are used to treat conditions like urinary incontinence and Parkinson’s disease, can cause dryness of the skin and decreased sweating, leading to an increase in body odor. Hormone replacement therapy and birth control pills can also cause changes in body odor. In some cases, medications can cause a sudden and noticeable change in how a person smells. This side effect is most commonly associated with drugs that affect the nervous system, such as antipsychotics and anti-anxiety medications.  While most changes in body odor are not harmful, they can be unwelcome and embarrassing. If you are concerned about how your body smells after starting a new medication, talk to your doctor about alternative options.”

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Mature woman with her doctor in ambulance talking about healthcare

“Conditions that affect the way our body processes food can also lead to changes in body odor,” Dr. Mitchell reveals. “For example, people with diabetes or liver disease may develop a sweet or musty smell because of high levels of ketones in their sweat. Kidney failure can cause a build-up of urea and other toxins in the body, which may be excreted through the skin and give off an ammonia-like smell. And certain genetic disorders can cause problems with how we break down and metabolize fats, resulting in a fishy body odor. While these changes in body odor can be alarming, they are usually not indicative of a severe health problem. However, if you notice a sudden or drastic change in your body odor, it’s best to see your doctor rule out any underlying medical conditions.”

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“Good oral hygiene is essential for many reasons,” Dr. Mitchell states. “Not only does it help to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, but it also reduces the risk of foul body odor. When food particles and bacteria accumulate in the mouth, they can cause an unpleasant smell. In addition, poor oral hygiene can lead to a build-up of plaque on the tongue, contributing to bad breath. Fortunately, a few simple steps can be taken to minimize the risk of foul body odor. For example, brushing the teeth twice a day and flossing regularly will help to remove food particles and bacteria from the mouth. In addition, brushing the tongue can also help eliminate bad breath by removing plaque and bacteria. By taking these simple steps, you can help to keep your mouth healthy and reduce the risk of body odor.”

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pregnant woman drinking coffee

Dr. Mitchell explains, “Being pregnant can cause a sudden change in body odor. This is because the body is going through hormonal changes, affecting perspiration. Additionally, pregnancy can cause an increase in blood flow, which can also lead to more sweating. To help combat this, it is essential to stay hydrated and wear loose, breathable clothing. Additionally, some women find that using a mild soap and avoiding strong fragrances helps to minimize body odor. If you are concerned about body odor during pregnancy, it is best to speak with your OB-GYN. They can provide additional tips and resources to help you manage this common side effect of pregnancy.”

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high fiber bowl of bran cereal with blueberries and bananas

Dr. Mitchell shares, “A high-fiber diet is often lauded as healthy and beneficial, and for a good reason. Fiber helps to regulate digestion, prevent constipation, and lower cholesterol levels. However, there is a downside to overeating fiber: body odor. When fiber is not fully broken down in the digestive system, it can start to ferment. This process produces gases like methane and hydrogen sulfide, expelled through the skin. In addition, a high-fiber diet can also cause sweat glands to become blocked, leading to an accumulation of sweat and bacteria on the skin. While body odor is not a severe health concern, it can be unpleasant and embarrassing. For this reason, it is important to moderate your intake of fiber-rich foods if you are concerned about body odor.”

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man prostate cancer, premature, ejaculation, fertility, bladder problem

“Body odor is caused by various factors, including diet, stress, and hygiene,” Dr. Mitchell says. “However, one of the most common causes of body odor is an infection in the pubic area. This type of infection can occur in both men and women, and it is often the result of poor hygiene or an underlying medical condition. The bacteria that cause these infections can lead to an unpleasant odor and cause irritation and itching. If you suspect that you have a disease in your pubic area, it is crucial to see a doctor to receive treatment. In most cases, body odor caused by a condition can be effectively treated with antibiotics or other medications. However, if the infection is left untreated, it can become severe and serious health complications.”

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Heather Newgen

Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more