Image via Ellentube.
Body odour. It happens to the best of us. But what we didn’t realise, is that our natural stink (for lack of a better way to put it) can tell us important information about our health and wellbeing.
Researchers at the Monell Chemical Senses Centre in Philadelphia conducted a series of tests on “sensor” mice, who had each been trained to use their individual sense of smell to pick out other mice that varied in genes, diet or both.
To cut a long story short, it basically means that changes in our body odour can signal different health issues. Yes, your BO is communication with you, people.
1. It can provide insight into what you’ve been eating.
Although there isn’t a huge amount of evidence to support the idea that what you eat has an effect on your BO, one of the two types of sweat glands within the human body can reveal how much fatty food you may be eating.
Apocrine glands (which can be found in our armpits, lower abdomen and genitals) excrete waste (mainly fats and proteins) from our bodies in the form of sweat. These fats and proteins are food for the nasty little bacteria that live on our skin, and it is those bacteria who create the BO smell we all know so well.
Basically, the more fatty the food you eat, the smellier you may be. Not fun.
2. It could indicate you're stressed.
When we get particularly stressed, our body odour changes in a way that's probably not noticeable to other mere humans, however you can bet your bottom dollar that your canine companion can smell it.
Animals are actually able to smell your stress, caused by fear. The smell doesn’t really alter your individual odour, it simply adds a stress-ier, sweaty layer of smell to your already smelly self. Yum.
3. It speaks the truth about your health.
Sickness and disease add to our BO smell in a similar way to stress. A study of prostate cancer detailed how dogs (specifically trained to identify the smell of prostate cancer within urine) were able to successfully recognise the smell of prostate cancer in 30 of 33 cases.
4. You might be a genetic mosquito magnet.
If you hate going outside on those muggy summer nights for fear of being eaten alive by mosquitos, your BO may be to blame.
A UK study of identical and fraternal twins showed that mosquitoes released into a Y shaped perspex tube (with a different twin's arm in either branch of the Y shape) tended to bite each set of identical twins at similar rates in each case, while fraternal twins were bitten at a varied rate. So I guess some of us are just tastier morsels than others.
5. It can help you find a partner.
Eau de fertility? It exists. Our scent has a lot to do with romantic attraction. Sweat and other bodily secretions release pheromones, which essentially act as a genetic cupid..
According to research, women tend to be more attracted to men whose genes differ from their own – we seek out those male specimens who have the potential to give us healthy babies.
Do you use your body odour to monitor your health?