Why Sweating Is The Ultimate Detox Tool (+ Other Top Health Benefits)

Why Sweating Is The Ultimate Detox Tool (+ Other Top Health Benefits) Dr. Will Cole

Sweat - it’s not usually the first topic you talk about with someone but it is something we all do. In fact, we each have approximately 4 million sweat glands on our body producing sweat as a natural bodily function to keep us healthy and thriving.

In my telehealth functional medicine clinic, I know that sweat can reveal a lot about your health. It is also something you can harness to make you feel even better! No one necessarily likes to sweat but you might want to sweat more after learning about what it can do for you. Read on to uncover the benefits of sweating.


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Why do we sweat?

Sweating is your body’s way of cooling itself down. As your body temperature increases, your body’s sweat glands release water on the surface of your skin. Once the sweat begins to evaporate it begins to cool your skin. Exercise or having fever are some reasons why your body temperature might be high and cases where excessive sweating occurs.

But what exactly is sweat? It is mostly made up of water but it also contains salt, proteins, amino acids, and other compounds but the exact makeup can vary at different points in your life depending on your health, what you are eating, if you’ve been exposed to any viruses or bacteria, and even your hormone levels.

The benefits of sweating

In addition to cooling yourself down, sweat provides many other health benefits.

1. Detoxification

Did you know that your skin is actually your largest organ and is part of your detoxification system? Sweat works as a way for your body to expel any toxins within your body including heavy metals and endocrine disruptors like BPA and PCBs from plastics.

2. Heart health

Sweat helps boost circulation and enhance cardiovascular health. Plus, activities that encourage sweating like exercise and sauna use also have their own heart healthy benefits.

3. Skin microbiome health

While studies are limited, an initial study done in 2015 looked at how glycoproteins in sweat are able to bind to bacteria on the skin to remove any negative bacteria that could lead to a skin irritation or infections.

4. Muscle recovery

The more you sweat during your workout, the better it is for your muscles. This is because sweat increases circulation and rids the body of lactic acid which can help alleviate soreness and get you back in the gym quicker.

5. Kidney stone risk

Urination is another way your body gets rid of toxins and other compounds. When you don’t pee, it can leave minerals sitting in your urinary tract and kidneys that can lead to kidney stones. Sweating encourages fluid intake which leads to more urination that flushes out these kidney stone-causing minerals.

How to maximize sweating benefits

1. Try an infrared sauna

Treat yourself to a spa day that has an infrared sauna. Unlike traditional saunas, infrared saunas are able to penetrate your skin barrier and therefore increase your core body temperature directly. Regular saunas must heat the air inside them before that heated air can warm you. This allows you to stay in an infrared sauna longer, resulting in more sweat and sweating health benefits.

My favorite saunas:

  • Sunlighten: Low-EMF portable infrared saunas and at-home walk-in infrared saunas.
  • HigherDOSE: Portable infrared sauna blankets and infrared PEMF mats, at-home walk-in infrared saunas. Use code "COLE15" for 15% off.
  • SaunaSpace: Portable walk-in infrared saunas.
  • Sun Home Saunas: Infrared sauna blankets and at-home walk-in infrared saunas. Use code "WILLCOLE" for $50 off.
  • Therasage: Portable walk-in infrared sauna, heating pads, and sauna mats. Use code "drwillcole" for 10% off.

2. Get moving

Obviously the more you exercise the more that you will sweat. Cardio exercises are a great way to increase your heart rate and get your sweat going. Be aware though that it is possible to over exercise which can lead to inflammation if you don’t let your body rest. Listen to your body and incorporate more sweat-inducing daily movement as your body allows.

3. Switch to a natural deodorant

Antiperspirant deodorants may keep you dry, but have you ever wondered how they do it? These types of deodorants contain aluminum that block your pores and stop them from producing sweat. Switching to a natural deodorant made with baking soda and essential oils will help fight off body odor while still allowing your body to do its thing. This way you can actually get all the benefits of sweating. If you feel like you are sweating more than you should, seek out a medical professional as that might be caused by an underlying health problem.

What your sweating patterns say about you

Everyone sweats. However, some people sweat more or less than what is considered average. 

Hyperhidrosis happens when you sweat too much and can be due to low blood sugar or thyroid problems. In this case, overcoming these health problems outweighs the benefits of sweating and should be addressed. 

Whereas, if you don’t sweat enough you could have what is known as anhidrosis caused by skin problems, skin burns, or dehydration. If you are struggling with this, it is important to see your doctor right away as it can lead to overheating.

Studies have also found that men, people who are overweight, and people with high toxin exposure, tend to sweat the most.

Risks and myths of sweating

One of the biggest myths I hear around sweating is that if you have extreme body odor when you sweat, you need to detox. That’s only half correct. I’ll let you in on a little secret: sweat doesn’t smell! Instead, body odor occurs when sweat mixes with bacteria or hormone secretions.

So while it's not sweat specifically causing your body odor, you do need to pay attention to how you smell as chronic B.O. could be a sign that something is going on beneath the surface with your hormones.

And although sweating is natural, you should be mindful before participating in certain exercises or enjoying an infrared sauna. Since salt and electrolytes are excreted in your sweat, you need to make sure you are replenishing what your body is losing through electrolyte-rich foods and supplements in order to avoid symptoms like headache, fatigue, and nausea.

Also, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding it is important to check with your doctor before adding in these activities and to determine the best way to take advantage of the benefits of sweating.

The Takeaway

No matter how much we might not enjoy sweating, it’s completely normal and something that can keep us healthy as we move through our days. Daily movement, infrared saunas, and switching to natural deodorants are just a few of the ways we can encourage our bodies to sweat more and harness all the amazing benefits of sweating.

If you want to learn more about sweating or have a concern about your toxin exposure and what that looks like to detox on a deeper level, check out a consultation at my telehealth functional medicine clinic where we can determine the best course of action for your health.

As one of the first functional medicine telehealth clinics in the world, we provide webcam health consultations for people around the globe.

Photo: unsplash.com

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  1. Robyn A Peterson, Audrey Gueniche, Ségolène Adam de Beaumais, Lionel Breton, Maria Dalko-Csiba, Nicolle H Packer, Sweating the small stuff: Glycoproteins in human sweat and their unexplored potential for microbial adhesion, Glycobiology, Volume 26, Issue 3, March 2016, Pages 218–229, https://doi.org/10.1093/glycob/cwv102

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Evidence-based reviewed article

Dr. Will Cole, DNM, IFMCP, DC is a leading functional medicine expert who consults people around the globe, starting one of the first functional medicine telehealth centers in the world. Named one of the top 50 functional and integrative doctors in the nation, Dr. Will Cole provides a functional medicine approach for thyroid issues, autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, digestive disorders, and brain problems. He is the host of the popular The Art Of Being Well podcast and the New York Times bestselling author of Intuitive Fasting, Ketotarian, The Inflammation Spectrum and the brand new book Gut Feelings: Healing the Shame-Fueled Relationship Between What You Eat and How You Feel.

Gut Feelings Dr. Will Cole 6

Gut Feelings

Healing The Shame-Fueled Relationship
Between What You Eat And How You Feel