Posted by tammy.smith on April 30, 2012
In the CrossFit world, sweat is an every day occurrence, and can often be measure in puddles. But, “Most people don’t think very positively about sweat,” said Penn State University professor Nina Jablonski. Some people find sweat uncomfortable and unpopular. Yet it does have some proponents. “If you are a copious sweater you should be proud of it. It is not something to hide or conceal,” Jablonski said. Yet, excessive sweat can impact others’ perceptions of a person. Some say sweat helped lose an election for Richard Nixon, when he visibly perspired in a debate against John F. Kennedy.
Even if some dislike it, a scientific reason for sweat exists. “Basically we can’t keep cool without sweating,” Jablonski said. Sweat is the body’s main coolant. Whenever a person begins overheating, either from exercise or high temperatures, the brain says “start sweating.” It is the evaporation of the water from your skin that helps cool the body off.
You’ve got two types of sweat glands across your skin (a third type, the sebaceous gland is similar in structure and function, but produces sebum, not sweat). They serve as a part of the integumentary system, which is also composed of your hair, fingernails and skin. The sweat glands serve on another system as well, the excretory system. The first type of sweat gland that develops is the eccrine gland. It’s found all over your skin, but most abundantly on the palms of your hands, the soles of your feet, your underarms (axillae) and your forehead.
Eccrine sweat glands are activated when the hypothalamus senses the body’s internal temperature is rising. Sweat composed mainly of water and salts is released and the body cools down. Since eccrine gland sweat is mostly water and salt, it doesn’t tend to produce a scent, so it’s not responsible for humans’ natural body odor. That honor lies with the apocrine gland.
The apocrine glands don’t develop until puberty, and since they are the glands responsible for body odor, this is the reason that kids don’t typically begin to use deodorant or antiperspirant until the onset of puberty.
Apocrine glands are found most abundantly in the axillae regions. These glands are responsible for excreting waste, mostly proteins and lipids (fats). This type of sweat doesn’t smell inherently, it’s when it reaches the skin that an odor is produced. There is native flora (microorganisms like bacteria and fungi found in colonies) on healthy human skin, and these florae set about eating your apocrine sweat when it’s excreted onto your skin’s surface. As they feed on your sweat, the microorganisms produce the familiar scent of body odor as a byproduct of metabolism.
The average person has about 2.6 million sweat glands and while working out, the average person can sweat out a gallon in an hour. Professional athletes can sweat twice that amount.
So, there you have it, be proud of your sweat and know that it does a body good!
For more information, visit: http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/information/nutrition/diet-body-odor1.htm
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