Sweat It Out: Does Sweat Really Remove Toxins From Your Body?

by Gio

sweat detoxifies body myth

I love a good workout session. It gives me energy, improves my mood, and keeps me healthy. What it doesn’t do is make me sweat.

No matter how hard I push myself, I sweat very little compared to my friends. I don’t mind that at all. I hate the feeling of sweat running down my face. Or worse, getting sweat in my eyes.

“But how do you detoxify your body if you can’t sweat it out?,” they ask me. “The same way you do,” I reply.

Hint: it’s not through sweat.

What Is Sweat?

Sweat is your body’s natural cooling system. Whenever you exercise, have a fever, or are in a very hot place – like my hometown Senigallia where the heat can rise up to 40°C in summer – your body’s temperature rises up above its ideal 37°C.

Your brain doesn’t like that at all. It wants to get back to 37°C. So, it sends a signal to the sweat glands in your body to start producing sweat.

(Btw, guess where most sebaceous glands are? Yep, underarms, feet and hands).

Sweat, or perspiration (its fancier name), is made almost completely of water. But it also contains tiny amounts of other chemicals, like urea, lactic acid, salts and sugars.

can sweat detoxify our body 02

Can Sweat Really Detoxify The Body?

Even though I’m not much of a sweater, I’d love it if this myth were true. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to breathe the most polluted air, drink lots of alcohol, and then be able to get rid of all those toxins by exercising for an hour or spending some time in a sauna?

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Sweat cools down the body, but it DOESN’T detoxify it.

So why do so we think it can? Because there’s usually a grain of truth in every myth.

The grain of truth: some studies have shown that toxins like mercury, lead, and arsenic, are excreted through sweat.

The full truth: Only in incredibly tiny amounts. Only less than 1% of these metals is removed through sweat!

If your body relied on sweat to detoxify yourself, you’d be long dead, gorgeous.

Exercise has lots of benefits. Detoxifying your body ISN'T one of them.Click to Tweet

How Your Body Really Detoxifies

Relying on sweat to detoxify your body isn’t a smart strategy. Good news: we don’t have to. Your body already has an inbuilt detox system: your liver and kidneys. Every day, they work hard to get rid of all the toxins that somehow make their way inside your body.

As long as your liver and kidneys are healthy, you don’t really need to do anything to detox. To keep them in top shape, always replenish all the liquids you lost during your workout session.

The Bottom Line

Exercise has many benefits, but removing toxins from our body is not one of them. It’s out liver and kidneys, not our sweat, that detoxify it.

Have you ever tried to sweat out toxins from your body? Leave a comment below and let me know. (Don’t feel bad, we’ve all been there).



Laurie August 4, 2015 - 2:03 pm

I am a hot yoga teacher and it always frustrates me to see it marketed as “detoxifying.” There are many benefits to the practice, but that’s not one of them!

Gio August 4, 2015 - 7:46 pm

Laurie, it’s very frustrating, isn’t it? So many people are using the detoxify trend to make a quick buck, and it’s all useless. We already have an inbuilt detoxifying system!

Allison August 4, 2015 - 9:06 pm

So glad you wrote this informative post, Gio! Lots of people waste so much money on stupid pads to detox through the soles of their feet and juice cleanses etc. Very silly

Gio August 4, 2015 - 9:14 pm

Allison, thanks. It is very silly indeed. It angers me that there are so many businesses making money by taking advantage of people this way. *sighs*

BebeTaian August 5, 2015 - 12:46 am

“Detox juice cleanses” … your liver doesn’t work? Just … drinking… any non-sugared liquid is fine, really…

I especially despise certain elements of the industry I work in because it’s religious, and religion breeds a whole lot of false or dubious-at-best claims. I’ve seen everything from the dangerously fraudulent (like wearing citrine will cure diabetes) to “make this herbal concoction and boost your liver!” … no. No. There is NO substantiated evidence for that, and just because herbs are “all natural” does NOT mean they are safe to take! Auugh! St. John’s Wort can cancel out your birth control! A lot of herbs interact with warfarin and other meds! IF YOUR LIVER FUNCTIONS, YOU DON’T NEED A BOOST! JUST DRINK SOME PLAIN WATER! Do you even understand how a liver works? I mean, ffs, you can cut a healthy liver in HALF and grow BACK the other half! That’s how good they are at their job! x.x

::laughs:: I get so much hate for that stance, but I really couldn’t care less. I’d rather you be safe and informed than for me to be $10 richer.

If you’re sweating, you’re probably too hot. Don’t give yourself heat exhaustion! And especially don’t push yourself to stroke! And as always, drink lots of water.

Gio August 5, 2015 - 9:40 am

Bebetaian, amen! I wish there were more people like you, who prefer to inform others than taking advantage of them by selling them dangerous nonsense. But I also blame the school system. If they made science lessons more interesting, then people would know how their liver works and wouldn’t be so easily fooled.

BebeTaian August 5, 2015 - 10:27 am

Yeah. I think it’s especially hard in America to deal with. We’re very… backwards, in a lot of ways. Anti-science, anti-intellectual, as if knowing things makes us “too good”, “too uppity” for the common man. What these people miss is that in a compulsory system, EVERYONE would get this education (with only minor outliers, like my sister, who was too sick to attend). Herd immunity works with education, too! 😛 Critical thinking courses should definitely be part of a high school curriculum before Uni, and the science courses could spend more time on functional human anatomy.

Plus, we’re such a really, really big, spread-out country that the political system is divided by necessity between state powers and national/federal powers, so states individually can control what they teach and how much money they have to spend teaching, which is a mess in itself. In the end, schools get chronically underfunded, and people suffer. Not many of us on the bottom ever have a chance of getting out and seeing firsthand how other countries’ systems work… so too many believe the lie that it’s worse elsewhere, and that it isn’t worth trying to improve because we’re the best there is already. But we’re the ones who need it most! The only solution is to work to find time to educate yourself here. No one will do it for you unless you’re very lucky.

Gio August 5, 2015 - 12:27 pm

Oh dear, your school system sounds awful! Unfortunately, the Italian one isn’t much better. It is underfunded and understaffed too, and the curriculum so outdated! Education there is compulsory, but the majority of students just can’t be bothered to study. They do what they must to get a good grade, and forget everything they’ve learned 10 minutes later. We need schools and teachers that know how to engage students and encourage them to learn and develop critical-thinking skills.

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