As a physician, I pay attention to many details about my patients, including body odor. If I detect anything other than a mild, almost neutral scent, my medical curiosity is piqued. Body odor tells me about a patient's health status, dietary habits and hygiene. People with liver disease may have a musty odor...infections anywhere on the body usually emit a foul smell...uncontrolled diabetes often creates a smell best labeled as sweet fermentation. People who are on high-protein diets or who eat a lot of fatty and/or fried foods, onions, garlic or curry or drink coffee or alcohol excessively, also have particular body odors. Poor hygiene leads to its own recognizable scent.

If you’re worried about your body odor, ask a trusted friend or family member to do a sniff test.

What to do: Ask the person to stand within one inch of you and inhale. If the body odor is new, quite strong or confined to a specific part of your body—for example, your mouth, ears or genitals—see your doctor for an exam and evaluation. If body odor is a familiar, long standing problem that’s not related to an illness, try the following suggestions for 10 days (if they help, continue as needed)...

  • Eat right. Fresh, whole foods give your body a fresh, wholesome scent. Eat a salad daily made with dark, leafy lettuce, sprouts, raw veggies and two tablespoons of olive oil. Avoid mayonnaise and cheese-based dressings, which contain odor-producing fat. Choose brown rice or a baked potato instead of fried potatoes. Reduce protein putrefaction in the digestive tract by eliminating meat—or consuming no more than three ounces of red meat or poultry per day. Drink one-half ounce of water for every pound of your body weight daily.
  • Take three saunas. Saunas make you perspire, which has a detoxifying effect that reduces body odor.

What to do: Brush your dry skin with a loofah or other skin brush. Enter the sauna and stay there until you perspire all over your body, then leave the sauna and rinse with cold water for 30 seconds. Brush your skin again and return to the sauna. End with a brisk 30-second skin brush, then wrap up in soft, warm clothing. Repeat this process two more times over the next several days.

Caution: People with high blood pressure or heart disease should avoid saunas.

  • Use chlorophyll. This chemical compound, which is responsible for the green pigment in plants, has astringent properties and can help control the type of body odor that comes from the fermentation of food in the digestive tract. Add one tablespoon of chlorophyll (available at health-food stores) to four ounces of water and drink it at the end of each meal. If you prefer, you can eat one-eighth cup of fresh parsley daily as a substitute for liquid chlorophyll.
  • Eliminate oral bacteria. In addition to brushing your teeth at least twice daily and flossing at least once a day, gargle each morning with a cup of warm chamomile tea mixed with one teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide. This mixture will kill bacteria living in the throat and mouth, a common cause of bad breath. After the 10-day period, gargle with the chamomile/peroxide mixture as needed for sore throats.

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