It’s hard to believe that the biological process behind sweaty armpits and glistening brows might be one of your body’s more ingenuous ways of taking care of itself.
Sweat is often the cause of unwanted side effects like odour, damp marks on clothing and that not-so-fresh feeling. However, sweating is natural in many situations and carries out an important bodily function.
The main reason you sweat is to cool your body. When your body is overheated, your skin and/or core body thermo-receptors will sense a temperature shift and respond by sending a signal to the hypothalamus.
In the sweating process, the hypothalamus is a lot like your body’s thermostat. It helps to control and set the desired body temperature by making your body react accordingly. When the hypothalamus realizes that the body’s temperature is too hot, it begins to do two things:
- Stops the process that increases heat. Your body slows down blood flow and reduces its metabolic rate.
- Starts the process that decreases heat. Your body begins to sweat, which decreases the temperature of the body.
These two activities are carried out by the two to four million sweat glands that are all over your body. The average person can produce a litre of sweat a day. Some places on your body sweat more than others. This is due to variations in sweat gland density on certain areas of the human body. For instance, your armpits have more sweat glands than your shoulders.
Some people believe that you eliminate a significant portion of waste in your sweat. However, the main way our bodies eliminate toxins is through the kidneys, liver and intestines, which eventually exit the body through excretions. Sweating is not wholly designed to remove toxins from the body, however sweating can inadvertently carry out trace amounts of metal toxins (<1%) through heat and exercise sweat.
Your body has developed a complex system to ensure that cooling occurs through sweat and this system is extremely efficient. Even though sweat can be annoying and embarrassing at times, without it your body wouldn’t be able to conquer all the challenges you face in a day.