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Sweating Removes Toxins From Everyday Products
Many people are predisposed to thinking of sweating as a bad thing. After all, it stinks, it makes your clothes stick to you, and it is often associated with dehydration. But sweating is a natural reaction of your body that can actually be very healthy in more ways than you know. In addition to helping prevent overheating, it can allow harmful toxic compounds to escape from your body. New research is showing that many of these toxins can accumulate over the course of your life, and appear to come from products you may be using all the time.
What Happens When We Sweat?
The human body has around 5 million sweat glands. The purpose of sweating is to cool down the body and prevent overheating and associated conditions like heat stroke. For ancient humans living in very hot climates like the African savannah, the advantage of this evolutionary trait cannot be overstated.
Sweating, also called perspiration, is controlled by the automatic nervous system, meaning it is a physiological reaction that just happens automatically. You cannot “will” yourself to sweat or not sweat. There are actually two kinds of sweating. The first is perspiration brought on by heat, vigorous physical activity or both, that will occur all over the body. Sweating which is caused by anxiety or stress will only occur in the armpits, head, or the hands. This is where phrases like “sweaty palms” come from.
The sweat itself is a watery liquid containing sodium, lipids (fats), and proteins, as well as trace amounts of toxins. These toxins accumulate in the body over time, which is the purpose of our discussion here.
Sweating is mostly beneficial, but in excess it can cause dehydration. That’s why it is important to drink plenty of fluids, preferably water, if you are hot and sweating a lot.
Perspiration as a Detoxification Mechanism
There is some misguided, New-Agey perceptions that all you need to “purify” your body of toxins is to sit a sweat lodge. It’s a little more complicated than that.
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The body has two sets of organs which are dedicated full-time to cleansing your body of toxic compounds. Your kidneys and your liver generally do a great job of cleaning out the junk. Sometimes, however, they fail to catch everything. This is how toxic compounds from certain processed foods, topical cream products and even household items can build up in fat tissue and other regions of the body.
Sweating allows your body to drive out some of these compounds. Some studies have shown that sweat can contain heavy metals like mercury, arsenic, lead, and cadmium. Exposure to these harmful elements is actually quite common due to their use in the manufacturing of so many products we use every day. Then of course there are pesticides and other chemicals like bisphenol A (BPA) found on certain foods and can easily appear in our stomachs.
Another harmful compound is mineral oil, which FDA has currently approved for use in certain cosmetic products. Mineral oil is derived from petroleum, which is in turn produced from crude oil out of the ground. When people put products containing this oil on their skin, it can seep through, and build up over time.
All of these chemicals and elements mentioned above are probable or confirmed carcinogens, and have shown negative, endocrine-disrupting qualities.
Is Sweating Really Good?
The good news is that even though the skin absorbs the toxins, it releases them back via perspiration. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Public and Environmental Health showed that sweating was able to successfully reduce the concentration of harmful heavy metals in the body. Further studies demonstrated the effectiveness of sweating for removing BPA from participant’s systems.
So what is the takeaway here? Sweating can be very beneficial for purging toxins out of you, and the odds are that you’re not sweating enough. Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity a day, and consider trying a sauna to bring on a healthy level of sweating. Find the right types and amounts of physical activity for you. Talk a doctor or a trainer today about the benefits of detoxing via sweating.