There are millions of sweat glands spread over your body, and while our sweat can be annoying, it's essential for life. Ever wondered what happens to your body when you sweat, beyond the obvious and embarrassing sweat stains? Keep reading to find out why we sweat and the health benefits it provides.
Why Do We Sweat?
There are three types of sweat glands in the human body: the eccrine, apocrine, and apoeccrine glands.
The eccrine sweat glands are the most prevalent, as there are millions of them spread all over your body. When your body temperature rises, it triggers the sympathetic nervous system to produce sweat mostly through the eccrine glands, and some through the apoeccrine glands, but not as much. Physical exertion does not trigger the apocrine glands, because they are more about nervousness or stress sweating.
Sweat is mostly water, but it also contains electrolytes and some waste products, which is why you should replace what you have lost through food and beverages after a workout or sauna session.
Sweat doesn't smell, so why do some of us smell so bad when we're hot and sweaty? It's because bacteria on the surface of our skin consume the sweat and convert it into acids responsible for that sweaty odor we all love so much.
Health Benefits of Sweating
A significant health benefit of sweating is that it keeps us alive. Without the ability to perspire, the human race would have died out long ago. Sweating keeps our core temperature stable even when the outside is sweltering hot. If we didn't sweat, we would all expire from heat stroke on an otherwise beautiful sunny day.
While some detoxification does occur through sweating, such as ammonia and urea, the volume is minimal. The human body relies more on other systems like the digestive, urinary, and lymphatic systems to expel large quantities of toxins.
Still, sweating is good for the skin because it pushes out trapped oils and grimes that can lead to skin issues if they are not dealt with. So, don't worry, sweating it out in a sauna can still give your skin a healthy glow.
Sweat eliminates salt from the body, which may help prevent kidney stones. Other essential electrolytes are also expelled after a sauna session or workout, which is why nutritious food and beverages are critical after heavy sweating, so don't forget to drink plenty of water.