Washington: The tricky thing about using sweat as a barometer for health: “A lot of it comes down to biological variation,” says Dr. Craig Crandall, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
Crandall says if you examined two people—same height, sex and build—one might produce twice the volume of perspiration as the other. “It could just be one person has more sweat glands,” he explains. “Everybody’s baseline is different, so it’s hard to say what amount of sweat is ‘healthy’.”
There are two different types of sweat glands: eccrine sweat glands, which are distributed over your entire body, and apocrine sweat glands, located on your scalp, armpits, and genital area.
The utility of sweating includes:
- Maintain proper temperature and keep you from overheating.
- Expel toxins, which supports proper immune function and helps prevent diseases related to toxic overload.
- Kill viruses and bacteria that cannot survive in temperatures above 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit
- Clean the pores, which will help eliminate blackheads and acne .
Crandall says the differences between fit and unfit people has to do with each person’s capacity for heat generation. “A high fitness level allows you to exercise at a higher workload, which generates more heat, which in turn leads to more sweat,” he explains. He says men tend to sweat more than women for the same reason overweight or obese adults often sweat more than thin people: Their bodies are larger, which leads to greater heat generation during activity.
There’s also a condition called hyperhidrosis, which is excessive sweating either all over your body or in one particular area, such as your palms or pits.
Crandall says, “Sweat is basically water, sodium chloride, and potassium”—all of which you have to replenish after sweating heavily, he says. And no, despite what you may have heard from the detox circuit, sweating does not rid your body of “toxins”. “It’s not like parts of the junk food you ate are going to escape through your sweat,” Crandall says. “There’s just no evidence of that.”