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Protein Digestion and Body Odor

author image Sara Clement
Sara Clement has been a writer, editor and social-media expert since 2002. A regular contributor for publications such as "Exhale," "Reflections of a Butterfly" and "The Giggle Guide," she is currently writing a book about grief and loss and coauthoring a sequel to "Being Ourself." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in premedical science and psychology/education from the University of Montana.
Protein Digestion and Body Odor
A man is holding a scoop of protein. Photo Credit: Cenk1988/iStock/Getty Images

Body odor is a phenomenon that is typically undesirable. Luckily, body odor is also something that can usually be prevented if the cause of the odor is assessed properly. While body odor may be attributed to ineffective hygiene, vigorous exercise or working in an odorous environment, it can also be caused by foods that are not digested well.

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After ruling out poor hygiene, sweat and occupational causes, identifying a food source causing body odor is a major step in curbing personal stench. Foods high in protein require active metabolic breakdown by the body and may increase the likelihood of increased body odor, according to holistic practitioner and naturopathic physician Dana Ullman.


Protein digestion requires the body to work hard for extended periods without raising blood sugar levels quickly, which is why protein is an ideal food source for those who wish to lower their glycemic index. However, slow digestion also increases the likelihood of intestinal gas, and protein, when slowly broken down, has a rancid meat smell infused with sulfur.


Without adequate fiber, a high protein diet may increase the risk of constipation and intestinal blockage. Should severe constipation occur, toxic by-products of digestion may seep through the pores, increasing body odor and bad breath. In addition, constipation exposes the body to toxic by-products that the body needs to get rid of to prevent severe illness. If constipation is a chronic problem, increasing fiber intake may help; consult with your physician if increasing fiber isn't enough to remedy the situation quickly.

Expert Insight

Naturopathic physician Sarah Lane advises tongue scraping for chronic bad breath related to digestive problems. Microscopic particles of food, including protein, feed bacteria on the tongue, which increase halitosis, or bad breath. Just brushing the tongue with a toothbrush may not remove all the bacteria as effectively as a tongue scraper, which can be found online and in health food or specialty stores.

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If results from diet changes, increased fiber and tongue scraping are not enough to remedy body odor, contact your physician. Another alternative to conventional medicine that may remedy body odor from poor protein digestion is homeopathy. Homeopathic practitioners may help the body to process foods more easily, curbing digestion problems and body odor without the use of pharmaceutical medicines.

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