Sweating is the body’s natural way of cooling us down. Although it may feel as if the sweat or perspiration is making us hotter, especially on warm days, without sweat, we would not be able to tolerate the heat our bodies would produce.
We sweat in order to keep the body at its normal temperature, which is 98.6° Fahrenheit (37° Celsius). If we lost this bodily function we could suffer from heatstroke in hot weather.
Think of all the food the body takes in each day. This has to be burned off somehow. The burning of this food produces heat within the body which triggers our brain to kick start the body’s natural cooling process. Inside the human body are long, twisting tubes of cells known as the sweat glands. The blood vessels in our skin open and the fluid is released through our pores.
There are approximately 2 million sweat glands in our body. We may not realize it but we perspire even when it is a cold day and we are not doing anything particularly strenuous. The body is two-thirds water and we lose a great amount of this every day through sweating. This is why it is so important to drink approximately 2 liters of water each day in order to replenish the lost fluids.
There are two different types of sweat glands: the Eccrine and the Aprocrine glands. The Eccrine is the more common of the two and is found in parts of the body such as the forehead, palms of the hands and soles of the feet. The Aprocrine can be found in the armpits and the end of the hair follicles.
Sweat itself is made up of different elements. The most common elements are water and sodium, otherwise known as salt. At times, we can have a low sweat production--this happens when it is cool and we are resting. The higher sweat production occurs in very hot weather or when we are exercising. High production contains about 20 percent more sodium than low sweat production.
There is also a difference in the chemical elements when we perspire. Perspiration that is produced through the Aprocrine glands, or in the armpit, will be thicker and perhaps have a yellowish color. This is because it contains fatty acids and proteins. It is this type of sweat under the arms, coupled with antiperspirants, which can turn clothing yellow. Notice when we apply deodorants it is only to the armpits, in order to counteract the smell of the Aprocrine sweat. Sweat is actually odorless, but when it starts to decompose and is attacked by bacteria, the smell can be unpleasant.
In countries with hot climates such as India, the people have a very much higher salt intake than would be considered healthy for us. It can be assumed that this is because they lose a large amount of chemicals such as salt through perspiration. Sweating, although at times embarrassing, is a natural bodily function crucial to our survival.