Some people consider that the consumption of food with aromatic herbs can influence the smell of the body. Everyone has a body odour, which can either be unpleasant or subtle. Body odour is genetically affected, but also influenced by environmental factors, such as the dietary habits, hormone level shifts, or any underlying health conditions that can have a sudden effect on the odour (1). In this paper, the effect of dietary habits on the body odour will be presented and, specifically, the connection between inclusion of herbs in the diet with better and improved body odour will be examined.
Aromatic plants, otherwise known as herbs and spices, have been used for a long time now in the folklore medicine and as preservatives of food. Herbs, such as oregano, basil, sage, rosemary etc originate from the Mediterranean and are some of the examples of herbs used wildly (Christaki et al, 2012). According to several studies, the bioactive compounds, which are the key natural flavour and fragrance ingredients of various spices and other aromatic plants play a significant role in better health of individuals (Gunasekar, 2012). A variety of herbs are used in culinary, including parsley, dill, lovage and celery leaves, and have beneficial nutritional effects (Violeta et al, 2017). Aromatic plants have been used in culinary for hundreds of years to improve the appeal and sensory characteristics of the food and, they are becoming even more popular because of their ability to enhance and complements the flavours of a wide variety of food. Moreover, addition of herbs and spices is recommended among individuals both for its healing properties and nutritive value (Violeta et al, 2017).
Aromatic plants are mostly added in cuisine in order to enhance the taste, flavour and fragrance of food. Flavour is a basic characteristic of food that improves and enhances the desirability of food and in combination with the colour, nutrition and texture, it creates the cornerstone of food industries throughout the world, that try to improve the acceptability of their products. Fragrance, on the other hand, is the combination of compounds and chemicals that give a pleasant smell (Violeta et al, 2017). And it is a fact that spice and herb essential oils and their isolates are the main ingredients that are used in order to make cosmetic products (Violeta et al, 2017). Furthermore, the consequences of herbs and spices on the health of an individual include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, cardiovascular protective antimicrobial effects.
Studies have indicated that there is a corelation between diet and a better body odour. For example, a study conducted in 2017 investigated the connection between a good diet, consisted of fruit and vegetables, and a more attractive body odour in men. Male participants provided axillary sweat samples and their dietary information and then, female participants evaluated these samples on several affective, qualitative and psychophysical dimensions. The results showed that greater fruit and vegetable intake was significantly associated with more pleasant smelling sweat and, according to data from self-reports of male participants, intake of fat, tofu, eggs and meat was, also, associated with better body odour (Zuniga et al, 2917). Therefore, it has been established that the diet can have a big effect on the odour of the body and better diet habits can be promoted to improve the smell.
Body odour is individually specific and can give information about the individual. Odour individuality from genetic individuality, but factors such as eating habits are another main source of odour variability. However, there is limited literature around how several dietary components shape our body and the mechanism that act to get these effects. In another study conducted, the odour attractiveness of male individuals who were on meat diet and those who were non-meat diet was compared. The results showed that the odour of donors on a vegetable diets was judged to be significantly more attractive, pleasant and less intense. And the study concluded that consumption of red meat has a negative impact on perceived body odour attractiveness (Havlicek and Lenochova, 2016). Green leafy vegetables are great sources of chlorophyl, which has a powerful deodorizing effect in the body and therefore, vegetables such as spinach, chard and kale should be added to the diet (1). Moreover, parsley is known to have odour preventing properties, therefore its incorporation in the diet, by eating it fresh or steeping a teaspoon of chopped parsley in boiling water and drinking its tea can both help in the masking of body odour (1). Therefore, it has been established that the diet can have a big effect on the odour of the body and better diet habits can be promoted to improve the smell.
Furthermore, another study found concentrated on the effect that consumption garlic has on the quality of axillary odour. Garlic, otherwise known as Allium sativum, is an integral part of the Euro-Asian local cuisines, something that can be attributed to several factors, such as its distinct aroma and taste, and the wide range of its health benefits. Some characteristic beneficial medical properties of garlic are antioxidant, immunostimulant, cardiovascular, oncological and bactericidal effects. However, in contrast with all the beneficial effects, garlic is also associated with a number of adverse effects. The most common of these are its connection with unpleasant garlic breath and sometimes body odour. Nevertheless, a study concentrated on the association of garlic consumption and axillary odour, found that the odour of donors after increased consumption of garlic was assessed to be significantly more pleasant, attractive and less intense (Fialová et al, 2016). But the effects behind this mechanism are still debated and there is no assurance as to what is responsible for the change in the odour.
However, the health benefits already mentioned, such as the antioxidant properties, are maybe responsible for the study’s findings (Fialová et al, 2016).
Perspiration is the body’s biological way to relieve heat and fresh perspiration, that is allowed to evaporate does not cause bad body odour. However, when there are bacteria present on the skin, they work on the sweat and try to decompose it which causes an unpleasant body odour.
Thus, toxic build up and diet can cause bad body odour and the more toxins the liver has to metabolise and eliminate, the more overworked it becomes. Therefore, in order to counteract to this problem, there are two main methods. First, practise of good hygiene and, second, to keep the body nutritionally balanced. The second, also, includes, regular detoxification of the body through consumption of food rich in antioxidants. Specifically, fruits, vegetables and herbs with their high levels of antioxidants can support health detoxification, so that there are no or minimal toxins struggling to get out of the body (2).
In conclusion, there is very limited literature and knowledge around the dietary factors that have impact on body odours and even more limited studies about the effect of aromatic herbs on the body odour. However, the high content of herbs in antioxidants, and its other numerous health benefits can be really helpful in preventing unpleasant smelling when incorporated into the diet.
- Christaki, E., Bonos, E., Giannenas, I. and Florou-Paneri, P., 2012. Aromatic plants as a source of bioactive compounds. Agriculture, 2(3), pp.228-243.
- Fialová, J., Roberts, S.C. and Havlíček, J., 2016. Consumption of garlic positively affects hedonic perception of axillary body odour. Appetite, 97, pp.8-15.
- Gunasekar, M., Geemon, K. and Mariwala, S.J., 2012. Health benefits of bioactive molecules from spices and aromatic plants. Journal of Spices & Aromatic Crops, 21(2).
- Havlicek, J. and Lenochova, P., 2006. The effect of meat consumption on body odor attractiveness. Chemical senses, 31(8), pp.747-752.
- Violeta, N.O.U.R., Trandafir, I. and Cosmulescu, S., 2017. Bioactive compounds, antioxidant activity and nutritional quality of different culinary aromatic herbs. Notulae Botanicae Horti Agrobotanici Cluj-Napoca, 45(1), pp.179-184.
- Zuniga, A., Stevenson, R.J., Mahmut, M.K. and Stephen, I.D., 2017. Diet quality and the attractiveness of male body odor. Evolution and Human Behavior, 38(1), pp.136-143.
1. Natural Remedies That Can Help Mask Body Odor [Internet]. Thehealthsite.com. 2021[cited 12 March 2021]. Available from: https://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/natural-remedies-to-treat-your-embarrassing-body-odor-719875/
2. Devgan K. Do you smell? How to beat body odour with what you eat [Internet]. Dailyo.in.2017 [cited 12 March 2021]. Available from: https://www.dailyo.in/lifestyle/body-odour-glycemic-index-parsley-green-dairy-products/story/1/17358.html