By Gemma Greene
Some days we all smell a little less than fresh. But you may be surprised to learn that quick fixes for some of those not-so sweet smells in your life can be found right in your kitchen!
Herbs. Some fresh herbs, such as parsley, peppermint and spearmint, are nature’s version of a dinner mint: The strong oils contained within them help to overpower nose-offending scents. “Plus, they leave behind a pleasant aroma,” says Sally Cram, DDS, a Washington, DC-based periodontist and spokesperson for the American Dental Association. Keep in mind, though, that the results will only last for a few minutes, it’s better than nothing at all. However, keep in mind that chronic bad breath (not linked to the consumption of fragrant foods, like garlic and onions) may be a sign of periodontal disease. If your bad breath just won’t go away, Dr. Cram recommends seeing a dentist, who can help get to the root of the problem.
Citrus fruits. More than just a refreshing snack, eating fresh citrus, such as lemons and oranges, can also help limit musky smells that may be lingering on your skin, according to David Colbert, MD, a dermatologist and internist in New York City and author of The High School Reunion Diet. “The acids in citrus fruits help flush water through your body. And because citrus also contains fiber, they move through your system slowly and flush out toxins that contribute to body odors,” he explains. So, if your eau de body is starting to get a little embarrassing, try eating grapefruit at breakfast or digging into a juicy, sweet orange for dessert.
White fish. Shocked to learn that the secret to curing your BO might actually be smelly seafood? The truth is that the state of your gastrointestinal tract is closely linked to your skin, Dr. Colbert says. Studies, including one conducted by scientists in Prague and published in the journal Chemical Senses, show that red meat is associated with bad body odor, which is why Dr. Colbert suggests eating white fish instead. “As the body breaks down the proteins in meat, your skin produces unpleasant odors. That doesn’t happen when you metabolize fish,” he says. Add white fish, such as tilapia, halibut and cod, to your diet and limit your consumption of red meat.
Apple cider vinegar. Thought to be an all-natural cure for just about everything (from digestive issues to weight loss), apple cider vinegar’s ability to tame smelly feet is one home remedy that’s doctor-approved. “Apple cider vinegar kills bacteria and dries excess sweat, the two main causes of foot odor,” says New York City-based podiatrist Johanna Youner, DPM. “It’s a really good, effective and cheap cure,” she adds. This pantry staple’s bacteria-killing power comes from its abundant levels of acetic acid and phenolics, a chemical compound with high acidity content. To remove foul odors from your feet, add a ½ cup of apple cider vinegar to a quart of lukewarm water and soak feet for 20 minutes; repeat twice a week, if necessary.
Cornstarch. Where does foot odor come from? There can be many causes, but most commonly, closed-toe shoes tend to promote odors. “It’s normal and natural for feet to perspire, but tight, unbreathable shoes trap sweat that eventually causes them to stink,” Dr. Youner says. Cornstarch is a good fix for the problem because the powder absorbs excess moisture and neutralizes odor; plus, its soft granules are more comfortable on feet than traditional baking soda. Beat the stink by sprinkling cornstarch into your shoes as soon as you get home.
Tea. Antioxidant-rich tea is the superpower of drinks. Turns out, it’s also good at keeping those stinky feet in check. The tannic acids found in both green and black teas will help keep your feet dry, thus preventing the root of your foot odor problem: perspiration. To help keep feet sweat-free, make a pot of tea and pour it into a tub big enough to fit both tootsies. Once it has cooled, soak feet for 10 minutes. Since the tannins in tea are less drying than the acids in vinegar, you can try this remedy once a day. However, Dr. Youner adds, if your skin starts to feel parched, then ease off to every other day. Note: Tea leaves may stain skin, but a quick wash with soap and water will remove discoloration.