Sweating is undeniably an essential natural process that allows the body to stay cool. However, experts believe that sweating holds health and beauty benefits beyond just temperature control.
How Sweating Works
Eccrine sweat glands are distributed all over your body and are designed to excrete odorless perspiration that’s mostly made up of water, salts and electrolytes. Apocrine sweat glands, on the other hand, are found in areas with the most hair follicles, such as the scalp, armpits and groin. Apocrine glands produce a fat-infused liquid that is commonly secreted during emotional stress.
When your body temperature rises, your body automatically releases sweat to help cool you down. This is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which you can’t consciously control. However, emotions like anger, fear, nervousness and anxiety could also prompt you to sweat.
Every person is born with anywhere between 2 million to 4 million sweat glands, which will determine in part how much you can sweat.
Benefits of sweating
Sweat, stinky and uncomfortable it may be, actually does the body more than just temperature control.
Sweat benefit #1: lowers skin infections
The eccrine glands secrete an antimicrobial peptide called dermcidin, which helps reduce the number of viable bacteria on the skin surface. This in turn can help lower risks of skin infections.
In fact, one study suggests that people suffering from atopic dermatitis, which is associated with recurrent viral and bacterial skin infections, may lack dermcidin in their sweat, thus impairing the skin’s innate ability to fight infection.
Sweat benefit #2: helps in the elimination of toxins
The skin eliminates harmful waste and toxins from the body, just like the kidneys, liver and colon. It is the largest organ in the body whereby at least one-third of the body’s daily waste and impurities passes through it through sweat.
Sweating as a form of detoxification has been downplayed by modern medicine, yet it has long been practiced and acknowledged for its benefits since ancient times. Some of the world’s traditions and customs that recognize the health benefits of sweat accompanied by heat include Roman baths, Scandinavian saunas, Turkish baths and aboriginal sweat lodges.
Sweat benefit #3: lower risk of kidney stones
People who exercise more perspire more and sweat out more salt, rather than have the salt go into the kidneys where it can develop into kidney stones. People who exercise more also tend to drink more water, which also contributes to the lowered risk of kidney stones.
Sweat benefit #4: helps reduce body odor
Undesirable body odor is linked to the toxins being expelled by the body. Sweating helps to get rid of these toxins. Coupled with a clean lifestyle, your body can have a low toxic burden, which in turn, helping to make your sweat nearly odorless.
Sweat benefit #5: controls mood swings
Research suggests that temperature-sensitive neural circuits found in specific areas of the brain may play a significant role in controlling mood, giving us that happy, and relaxed feeling. This explains why after a long run or a particularly intense workout you feel like giving everyone hugs and high-fives.