armpits and foods we eat

What Causes Unfavorable Body Odor Smell? It May Be These Foods You’re Eating!

We’ve all heard the term, “You are what you eat”. This rings especially true when it comes to our body odor. The foods we eat, combined with our own body chemistry can cause a variety of normal to, shall we say... pungent odors. This can be especially embarrassing if we’re around others and can actually start to affect our confidence if we don’t know how to address it.

In this article, we hope to share a little bit about common foods many of us eat, how they affect your body odor, and how you can control your odor a little better.

Refined Sugar

The refined sugar content in many indulgent foods (even in savory junk foods!) along with the high glycemic index may be to blame for the odor produced after eating them. Sugar from refined foods found in the blood after eating it has been found to change the chemistry of our perspiration (in some people) when it mixes with the bacteria found on the skin. This combination may lead to changes in your odor, and the smell of your breath (since sugar is a quick food source for bacteria). Not to mention, junk foods are also lacking many nutrients including chlorophyll which actually helps to neutralize bacteria that leads to body odor. Limit your intake of refined sugar by opting for whole foods instead of over-indulgence and junk foods whenever possible.

indulgent foods and body odor

Red meat

A fancy steak dinner date can quickly turn sour if you’re not prepared for the odor outcome. The reason for this is that amino acids in red meat stay behind in your intestines while digestion occurs. When enzymes break down these acids in your intestines, they mix with bacteria on your skin which ramps up the odor. You can’t avoid this from happening of course since your body works hard to digest red meat, meaning… more sweating. A good tip to keep in mind is that red meat takes a couple hours to digest; as such, the bacteria takes a couple hours to work up to its smelliest point. If you’re going on a date, opt for chicken instead if you’re planning on extending the night beyond lunch or dinner. Your body chemistry also plays a huge role in how long this odor sticks around. For some people, it could only be a couple hours; while the unlucky ones may find the “meat sweat” sticking around for a couple weeks!


Not unlike red meat, your body chemistry and genes will determine the length and extent of fishy odor you give off after eating fish. Fish is generally a healthy protein option with omega-3 fatty acids found in them being essential for brain function. The reason for fishy odor in some people comes down to metabolic disorder which makes it harder to break down trimethylamine (naturally occurring chemical in seafood). The secretion of this fishy smelling sweat may only hang around for a day or two for most people; but some may find it lingers longer. In rare cases, some people may also be diagnosed with Trimethylaminuria, a disorder also commonly referred to as “fishy odor syndrome.” Dietary changes can lessen the severity of fishy odor syndrome. 

Garlic & Onions

Most of us are used to our sweat being a bit more pungent than usual after eating garlic and onions. As our body breaks down the garlic and onions (through the process of digestion), sulfur-like compounds are produced which are almost immediately evident through our breath. When these compounds react with the sweat on our skin, we experience that all too well-known garlicy body odor in the apocrine glands soon after! By cooking down onions and garlic, you may reduce the effect it has on your scent.

foods we eat and body odor


When we drink alcohol, our bodies naturally metabolize it into acetic acid. Also referred to as acetate, it has a sweet smell (not a good kind of sweet) that contributes to body odor. Minimizing this odor can be done by consuming water while drinking alcohol (a glass of water per glass of alcohol) and of course, by limiting your alcohol consumption. 

To limit the odor from foods you can also...

  • Be sure to stay clean and wash once a day. Cleansing the sweat (which is actually odorless) off your body removes bacteria living on your skin that is the true culprit of your BO. 
  • Treat your body right by staying hydrated throughout the day. Water is a natural cleanser, flushing out toxins and keeping our bodies functioning properly. Stay hydrated and aim for at least 8 glasses of water per day.
  • Use plant and mineral based odor protection like any of our natural deodorants, and for proper underarm care, try our DETOX Underarm Care System™ which helps remove dead skin build-up and impurities accumulation, especially when your night was more indulgent than what your body is used to.


These statements are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For any medical concern you should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other health care worker. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Full Medical Disclaimer.