Are you sweating too much or not enough? If sweat could speak, what would it be telling you? Are you... normal? There’s so much about the condition of your body, that sweat can tell you, let’s dive in.
Go ahead and leave the sauna out of your wellness routine if you thought you could sweat off last night's hangover. That’s not to say the sauna doesn’t have health benefits, but one thing it can’t do is force your body to sweat out toxins. “It’s a common misconception that sweating ‘detoxifies’ the body, when in fact it is the kidneys and liver that are the organs responsible for detoxing,” reports getthegloss.com.
You have three different sweat glands, eccrine, apocrine, and apoeccrine (apoeccrine sweat glands are glands that cannot be categorized as either eccrine or apocrine due to size specifications.) The main substances they’re pushing through your pores are water and electrolytes. (Which is why it’s so important to rehydrate with electrolytes after a workout.)
But Wait, What about saunas?
You can go ahead and re-add your sauna sesh to your wellness routine because there are other proven benefits beyond the mythical detox. The intense heat (in safe intervals) activates the central nervous system, autonomic nervous system, and sympathetic nervous system. Regular sauna sessions have been shown to be good for cardiovascular health, skin blood flow, and warming the body to prepare for exercise.
We Sweat When We’re Stressed
A good old adrenaline rush will signal your apocrine sweat glands into action. You don’t have to be engaged in an exciting activity to get a rush of epinephrine (adrenaline.) Strong emotions, “such as fear and anger cause adrenaline to be released into the bloodstream.” Have you ever been in the middle of a heated argument and your palms sweat? That’s a rush of adrenaline and probably a good indicator that you need to step away from the conversation and come back to it later when you can calm down.
“Apocrine sweat glands are sensitive to nervous stimulation via adrenaline. This is why you can sweat more when you’re stressed. Eccrine sweat glands on the other hand are active when exercising or when your temperature is high.”
You’re in Great Shape?
If you are an athlete or someone who regularly trains, your body will likely start cooling itself sooner rather than later during your training session. The body is primed for activity and will produce more heat and sweat to keep the athlete cooler sooner and longer. However, if you put an in-shape person on a treadmill next to someone who never runs, the less-fit person will sweat more, because they have to use more effort to perform the same task as the in-shape person.
You Aren’t Hydrated
Have you ever been mid-exercise and you have to stop because sweat just dripped into your eyes and it’s burning like crazy? What about after you drive home from the gym and you look in the rearview mirror and there are white streaks down your cheeks? In these instances, your sweat is trying to tell you that you are dehydrated. Crazy right, but it signals that your sweat is thick and full of salt. And even though it’s a salty sweat, you are actually low on sodium! Make sure to rehydrate with not only water but electrolytes to set your body right.
“[...]this probably means you’re good on water but low on sodium. Although it seems little counterintuitive, salty sweaters are actually lacking sodium in their diet, which is an essential ingredient for keeping you hydrated.”
It’s Your Time Of The Month
Let’s have a chat about progesterone levels, shall we? First things, first your progesterone levels will fluctuate throughout your whole life. Anything from your period to ovulation, pregnancy, and menopause will see the cycling of progesterone levels. Changes in progesterone and estrogen affect the body’s “temperature control.”
Here are some examples of how much progesterone your body may produce at different times in your cycle and before:
“[...]hormonal changes and imbalance are to blame, as everything from ovulation to pregnancy to menopause provokes an increase in core body temperature, in the main thanks to rising progesterone levels, provoking sweating and the more pronounced hot flushes that many women experience during the menopause.”
It’s Hot Out and You’re Getting Too Hot
The hypothalamus signals for your nerves to increase sweat production to begin the cool-down process. But when it’s too hot out, the sweat just keeps coming. And heavy Sweating can be embarrassing. Have you ever been in 90-degree weather and you’re drenched? It’s just your body trying to cool you down. But watch out, if you see goosebumps and your skin feels cool. Heat exhaustion may not be too far off. Your body can lose its ability to regulate your core temperature.
Your Body Can’t Cool Itself Down
There are definitely times when you should break into a sweat. Intense training sessions, HIIT, hot yoga- if you’re not breaking into a sweat you could have Anhidrosis. Women’s Health defines anhidrosis as, “the inability to sweat normally. If you can’t sweat, your body can’t properly regulate your temperature, which can be dangerous.”
You Have a Higher Body Mass
Unfortunately having a higher body mass means you are likely to sweat more when performing tasks that require excretion. Because “fat acts as an insulator.” Huffington Post says this: “overweight individuals could produce a lot of sweat from very low activity levels, like climbing a flight of stairs or taking a short walk.”
It’s Humid Out
You may notice you can’t stop sweating. Maybe your sweat just isn’t evaporating. Evaporation is crucial to cooling you down. When it’s too humid out, your sweat won’t evaporate as it should. This could actually cause problems. You’re going to feel much hotter working out in humid weather because the sweat can’t leave your skin.
Similar to your time of the month, but with hot flashes and night sweats. As your body’s hormones fluctuate your core temperature will rise and lead to some uncomfortable sweating. If you’re experiencing hot flashes and night sweats and you could be near the age of menopause and are experiencing premenopausal symptoms.
You’re Sweating A Lot Because You Drank Too Much Water
This one is actually false. Sweat is made and released by the eccrine, apocrine, and apoeccrine after being signaled by your brain. “Drinking more water does not make you sweat more. The body gets rid of excess water via the kidneys, not through sweat. Excessive sweating can also occur because of other medical or hormonal factors that activate sweat glands.” Meaning you are more likely to throw up from drinking too much water rather than you sweating the excess out. So now you know your sweat isn’t happening just one reason. There are many things your sweat could be telling you about your health.