Everybody knows that your diet influences the way you smell. It’s common knowledge that eating heaps of garlic the day before a first date may not be conducive to the atmosphere (and outcome) of the rendezvous.
Just as there’s truth to the fact that people who eat lots of dairy seem to have a distinct body odor in the perception of those who are less fond of dairy.
And following this logic there’s also a possible link between your diet and the way your tootsies reek. Of course, body, and thus foot odor, is also determined by your overall health, genetics, and personal hygiene.
Foot odor is a problem that many people struggle with. It’s embarrassing and limits your freedom. You’ll think twice going to that friend’s house with white carpet when you know you’re going to have to take your shoes off inside the door.
When eliminating, or significantly reducing, foot odor it can be helpful to pay more attention to your diet.
In fact, the foods you eat play a major role in the odors produced by your body, and altering that diet can help get rid of that embarrassing smell. Here’s which foods to avoid and which foods to eat more often.
Foods to avoid
Foods high in sulfur
- A number of compounds found in foods, such as sulfites, can produce an unpleasant smell when they are broken down in the body and released through sweat. Foods that are considered healthy may need to be avoided. Some vegetables when digested are broken down into sulfur-like compounds, which can create unpleasant smells.
Some people have a food sensitivity to sulfites causing a prominent odor sometimes described as an onion smell.
Vegetables like broccoli, fish like salmon and tuna, and red meats can also cause unwanted odors. Onion, garlic, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, beer, tea, and coffee are examples of sulfur rich foods. Eliminating such foods can help clear up foul foot odor.
Don’t overdo it though with the cutting back because sulfur-containing vegetables are very healthy. They contain unique potent anti-carcinogenic compounds.
Sweat inducing foods
- Foods that make you overproduce sweat. Both spicy and foods that are temperature wise hot, such as hot soup can make you perspire. Consuming less of these can assist you in your attempt to eliminate foot odor.
A good place to start is by limiting foods that are spicy such as peppers, greasy such as fast food, chocolate, and white bread, high in fat such as high fat milk, high in sodium (salt) and contain elements such as caffeine.
These foods increase sweat production so unfortunately you may have to curb the coffee and fried chicken cravings.
- Another major culprit are foods that are considered refined carbs. These include white bread, white pasta, white rice and pastries. Many pastries contain flour and refined carbs that contribute to body odor.
Strive for a balance of complex carbs, healthy fats and protein to reduce stinky feet.
Dr. Robert A. Kornfeld, the founder of the Institute for Integrative Podiatric Medicine mentions:
“Diets high in refined carbohydrates will often serve as food for bacteria and fungus in the body. The body intends to rid itself of bacteria through dead skin cells. However, when they collect in the skin of the foot through perspiration and are enclosed in a shoe, the odor can become extreme.”
With that being said, don make the mistake thinking low carb is the way to go.
Low carb diet
- When on low carbohydrate diets people often consume high amounts of protein. A common side effect of such diets is keto breath or ketosis odor.
The lack of carbs makes the body increase ketone production causing the distinct smell often described as acetone or rotting fruit.
Such diets can result in quite the odorous process:
I’ve done the no carb / low carb system before and it really seems to be the only thing that works for me but this time around I have noticed that my feet REALLY stink. Now, before you tell me I am crazy or give me the “get new shoes” routine I have to say this – I’ve never had stinky feet. Sure there were some days that they weren’t smelling like a bed of roses but these are like DEATH FEET.(source: Elite Fitness)
Protein rich foods
- High protein foods such as eggs, fish and red meat are commonly high in compounds such a choline and carnitine. When these compounds are broken down in the body it can lead to the production of trimethylamine, a substance known to produce a fishy smell. Fish particularly rich in choline are tuna and salmon.
Yeast and sugar
- An overabundance of yeast and sugar may contribute to bacterial growth which is a the indirect cause of smelly feet. Reduce your intake of yeast and sugar containing foods.
Note: of course adjusting your diet will work best when you take other measures too. Here’s the multi-modal cure that helped me get rid of the smell.
This wide range of foods that influence body odor and potentially your stinky feet may have you wonder, is there anything left to eat?
Yep, rest assured, there is. Everybody is different and maintaining a well-balanced varied diet is essential to your health. It’s probably best to see if you eat lots of a particular food mentioned here. If you do, try eliminating it for a while from your diet and see if it helps.
Apart from that,
Foods to eat
A more proactive approach in getting rid of the pong could be by incorporating nutrients in your diet that are known to reduce body odor.
There are tons of foods out there that won’t contribute to that embarrassing scent. Foods that are high in fiber like fruit and leafy vegetables help to flush out the system and get rid of existing toxins.
Fruits and chlorophyll rich foods
- Eating things like citrus fruit and kale are thought to produce a sweeter body and foot odor. Green leafy vegetables, super sprouts, kelp, and seaweed are high in chlorophyll which is known to remove toxins from the body.
Wild edible greens such as chickweed, miners lettuce, micro-algae and watercress are abundant sources of “wild chlorophyll”. This nutrient could is said to boost wound and ulcer healing and is thought to help combat foot odor too.
These claims however have not been proven by clinical evidence and more research is needed to confirm these claims.
- These foods, along with spices and herbs such as mint, peppermint, parsley, and rosemary contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is a compound that aids in the neutralization of many odors before they’re processed and emitted through the skin in sweat.
Sage is a herb that aids in reducing sweat, leaving less of a chance that smelly compounds will make their way to the surface of your skin.
- A lack of zinc in your diet can cause stinky feet. Make sure you’re getting enough zinc by eating zinc rich foods or by taking zinc supplements.
The RDA for men is about 11 grams and for women it is about 8. Zinc-rich foods are peanuts, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, and dark chocolate. You can also use zinc cream for stinky feet
Wrapping it up
Certain foods form compounds contributing to sweat and unpleasant smells. Limiting those can go a long way in reducing distress and embarrassment of your malodorous feet.
Making an effort to eat more foods that neutralize or improve body odor can be helpful too in curing those dreaded stinky feet.
Maintaining a healthy diet not only improves your overall health but it can also keep you smelling sweet.
Don’t forget about The Holy Quaternity when it comes to ridding yourself of smelly feet:
- regularly wash with a good antibacterial soap,
- reduce the amount your feet sweat with this substance,
- wear the right socks,
- use odor controlling insoles and foot/ shoe powder.