I’m a big fan of health metrics. As an anesthesiologist, I’m conditioned to love getting data and piecing together what it could be telling me…as a bunch, we’re generally pretty nerdy like that.
So when it comes to my own health and trying to help others with theirs, I’m always on the look out for metrics I can track that will enlighten me about what’s happening on a deeper level. (In a not-too-distant post, I talked about how heart rate can be a really fantastic metric that gives you insight on a lot of different things effecting your health.)
One of the new things I’ve been focusing on is body odor. Ew, right?
For the most part, B.O. is something we actively try to avoid and go to great lengths to get rid of. I’m no exception…and I consider creating my Extra Strength Deodorant without using an chemicals one of my bigger DIY achievements!
Before we get to the meat of this topic however, let me tell you a little story:
One of my best friends recently came to town. My husband and I took her out to some of the best restaurants in our neighborhood and took her sight-seeing around the area. When it came to showing her the most well-known places to eat around our neighborhood, I ended up enjoying some gluten-free donuts, gluten-free pizza, and a whole bunch of other things I don’t normally eat so close together. (I DO occasionally eat all these things and I’ve written about why I have no problem enjoying treats in this gluten-free eclair post.)
I was being “good” by sticking to gluten free options since, as a Celiac, I absolutely can’t get any gluten in my diet without getting ridiculously ill. And I also know from previous experience that even gluten-free processed items tend to cross react and cause gut irritation for me…but it was a special occasion and I consciously made the decision to deal with the consequences after she left. (For that, I stick to my post-gluten-exposure gut healing protocol.)
But this post isn’t about my gluten experience. It’s about body odor…so that’s where the story gets a little bit more gross.
A couple days into the visit, I was at work and was starting to notice that it was half way through the day and I was starting to smell–as my husband likes to put it–“ripe” (he’s sweet like that). Did I forget to put on my deo, I thought to myself? The answer was maybe so I didn’t really think that much of it (at 4 am, who can really remember what you did, right?).
The next day, I made sure I put on deodorant and I headed out to work. But half way through the day, it was happening again.
I started to do a little thinking. Was my new batch of deodorant defective? I didn’t think so, since it seemed to be working just fine the week before. Was I getting abnormally hot during the day? That didn’t seem to be different either.
Eventually, it clicked for me: the unusual toxin and inflammation load I had handed to my body was the cause. While my belly wasn’t feeling awful (it wasn’t that great either, truth be told), it was clear that my lymphatic/immune system was revving up and the food I was putting into my stomach was undoubtedly having on an impact on my overall bacterial flora. (I’ve talked about how our food choices impact our gut flora–and flora in general–in this post.)
The point that I’m making isn’t that gluten exposure will make you smell bad.
The point I’m making is that our body odor changes can give us (unfortunately) real and obvious insight into what is happening internally. The value in this is that things like gut and immune damage can happen without us noticing until things get really bad…and having an easy to measure outwardly metric can be really, really handy.
If you’re been struggling with body odor that you just can’t get under control, taking a look at what foods you’re eating and what might be bothering you (it doesn’t have to be the usual gluten/dairy triggers!) can be a good place to start. Other things to look into is your overall detoxification health and making sure to take care of your delicate but hard-working lymphatic system.
Furthermore, body odor isn’t necessarily the only thing you might have to measure. It might be that your hair starts falling out in larger quantities or you get intractable dark circles under your eyes (both true for me). While I don’t advocate for becoming hyper-vigilant about every little twinge you feel, noticing patterns over time can be helpful for knowing when your habits are leading you down a path you might not want to go down.