Coffee is a wonderful drink, something that gets many people moving in the mornings. The rich taste and pleasant aroma of coffee make it fun to enjoy, too. The problem is: what happens to us when we drink coffee?
Some people drink so much coffee that they can smell it in their urine. If that smell can be found there, then what about the rest of our bodies? And, why is coffee breath a big marketing shtick for mints and toothpaste? There’s more to drinking coffee than just the caffeine rush.
How Coffee Causes Body Odors
One of coffee’s greatest benefits – its caffeine content – can also be causing issues with body odor. As a stimulant, caffeine causes your body to wake up by activating parts of your brain. That’s why so many people drink it to get started in the mornings. It gives you that early boost you need to get going.
However, caffeine goes to more places than your brain. It travels throughout your body and activates nerves all over. One of those places is your sweat glands. Specifically, your apocrine sweat glands.
These sweat glands are responsible for the fatty sweat that odor-causing bacteria eat. When they eat this sweat, these bacteria give off the bad smell of body odor. So, by consuming caffeine, there’s a chance you’re helping feed these little guys with your sweat.
The Cause of Coffee Breath
Coffee breath is another common side effect of drinking coffee. However, this is caused by something different than caffeine, but caffeine definitely plays a role.
As a stimulant, caffeine dehydrates the body and encourages your kidneys to filter more water out of your body. As you lose that water, your body will pull from other areas to keep everything even, including draining the saliva in your mouth. By doing this, bacteria in your mouth are exposed and release bad-smelling chemicals that cause bad breath.
The tannins in coffee don’t help with coffee breath, either. Tannins are chemicals in coffee that help contribute to its flavor and bind to proteins in your saliva. Once bound, these tannins essentially gum up your saliva and keep it from doing its job. If you’ve ever felt thirsty after drinking coffee, this is why.
The problem happens when these tannins don’t get flushed out quickly. They do the same things as caffeine in causing bacteria to be exposed and stink up your mouth.
How to Clear Odors Caused by Coffee
Now that you know how coffee can cause body odor let’s talk about getting rid of it. Even though bacteria cause both issues, the solutions for body odor caused by coffee aren’t the same for your pores and mouth.
Solutions For Body Odors
The main areas that will start to smell with too much coffee will be areas of the body that don’t get a lot of airflow or are often covered by clothes. In other words, the armpits.
One solution you could try is to apply rubbing alcohol in the areas that produce your body odor. Rubbing alcohol is a known antibacterial, killing off the odor-causing bacteria and keeping them from making the scent.
Another option is to use green tea extract as a deodorant. Green tea extract is also a known antibacterial and is more natural than a traditional, store-bought deodorant. Commercially-made deodorants tend to rely on aluminum to block your pores, but they can irritate sensitive areas.
Solutions For Coffee Breath
Since the main cause of coffee breath amounts to a lack of saliva, an easy way to clear up coffee breath is to drink more water. With enough water, your body will stabilize back to where it was before you drank the coffee and route some of that water back to your mouth. That water will thin out your saliva and clear out the tannins and bacteria creating the issue.
There are more immediate solutions you can take, though. Brushing your teeth, gargling mouthwash, or chewing a piece of sugar-free, scented gum can all mask the smell or remove bacteria. These aren’t as good as solving the root problem of dehydration in the mouth, but you don’t always have the hours it takes for your body to restabilize.
Body odors caused by too much coffee are unpleasant. One of the easiest ways to clear them up is to drink less coffee. But, you can mitigate the smells with other solutions, like drinking water and using natural deodorants. Do whatever it takes to keep drinking your favorite brew!
If you’re interested in learning more about the chemistry of coffee, we’ve written other articles on the subject that we think you’ll enjoy!