By David Crocker
Diet and Exercise
With summer almost here, many are enjoying outdoor activities in the heat, and that means perspiring. Now, most folks try to avoid sweating, or at least make a great effort to conceal it, but sweating can actually be very healthful.
So just what is sweat, and why do we perspire? What sweat is composed of depends from which gland it comes. There are two main types of sweat glands. “Eccrine” glands produce most of your sweat.
Eccrine perspiration is mostly water, but does contain salts, proteins, urea, and ammonia. These glands are mostly concentrated on the palms, soles, forehead and armpits, but also cover the entire body.
“Apocrine” sweat glands are larger. These are located on the armpit, groin, and breast area, and are most often associated with body odor, because their secretions are more concentrated. When the body senses overheating, it starts perspiring as a way to control its temperature. As the water in sweat starts to evaporate from the skin’s surface, your body temperature drops, cooling you.
Why do some folks sweat more than others? You can thank your parents for this one. The main factor in how much you sweat is genetic. Sweating too much, called “hyperhidrosis”, does seem to have a genetic component, but secondary hyperhidrosis can result from an underlying condition, such as lymphoma, hyperthyroidism or diabetes. Cystic fibrosis can be detected with a sweat test. Sodium and chloride are much more concentrated in folks with the condition.
Here are a few healthful benefits derived from perspiring.
Detoxifies the body
When you sweat, your body releases toxins, and other waste products through the skin. In fact, the skin is often referred to as “the third kidney”.
Boosts the immune system
When you perspire, your body reacts similarly to when you have a fever. Then your body tries to fight your high temperature as though it were attacking an illness. This in turn boosts white blood cell count, and the immune system.
Lowered risk of kidney stones
Sweating helps prevent kidney stones by elimination of excess salt from the body. High sodium levels increase calcium in the blood, which can trigger kidney stones. Also, prolonged sweating leads to increased thirst, and the need to drink more water is helpful in lowering kidney stone risks.
Since perspiring flushes out toxins and bacteria, it can help keep skin clearer. Sweat is also considered anti-bacterial, so it can help conditions like acne.
Reduce symptoms of depression
Sweating can help release the “feel good” hormones called endorphins. Endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain to trigger a positive feeling in your body. Also, exercise releases these same endorphins, so if you’re perspiring while exercising, all the better!
Here are a few sweat facts you might not know.
- Women have more sweat glands than men, but men actually produce more sweat.
- Everyone has between 2 and 5 million sweat glands spread across their bodies.
- Sweat is actually odorless. Unpleasant aroma from sweating is created when it reacts with certain bacteria on the skin’s surface.
- It’s colorless too. That’s right, those yellow stains that might appear on your shirts, are caused by a reaction with chemicals in your antiperspirant.
- On average, humans sweat approximately 278 gallons a year.
- The only area s of the body that don’t have sweat glands are the ears, lips, and nails.
- The fitter you are, the sooner you start to sweat during exercise or physical exertion.
Questions? Email David at firstname.lastname@example.org