If you’ve ever been to a sauna or hot yoga class, you know that some people swear by the “cleansing” power of sweating. The idea is that through sweating, your body rids itself of a significant amount of toxins that have built up in your bloodstream.
But VERIFY viewer Lee asked our team if the widely held belief that sweating rids the body of toxins is actually true.
Does sweating cleanse your body of toxins?
No, sweating does not cleanse your body of toxins. Nearly all of the toxins in the body are filtered through the liver and kidneys.
WHAT WE FOUND
Sweating is the primary way a person’s body regulates temperature. When a person sweats, the body releases water onto the skin, which then evaporates in order to cool it down.
Sweat is made up of 99% water. The remaining 1% contains salt, fat, electrolytes, pheromones and bacteria, as well as tiny amounts of released toxins, according to MedlinePlus, UAMS Health and Ochsner Health. But those trace amounts of toxins are nothing compared to what is filtered through your liver and kidneys, and do not account for a “cleanse.”
“Although trace amounts of heavy metals and pollutants can be found in sweat, sweat is still 99% water. And there’s no evidence that sweating out those toxic materials actually improves health,” Ochsner Health says on its website.
The liver and kidneys, not sweat glands, filter toxins out of the blood and the body releases them through urine and feces, according to health experts at Columbia University and MSU Extension.
“Our liver is the ultimate filter of our body. It filters any medications that we take, and it breaks them down into different properties. The liver is usually breaking down several toxins into less toxic substances,” Yale School of Medicine physician Gary Soffer told VERIFY.
“Then we have the kidneys, which are great at filtering everything out. They're one of our biggest filters, and we excrete [toxins] through urine that way,” Soffer added.
Ochsner Health says that over 200 liters of blood are filtered through the kidneys each day, removing over two liters of water, wastes and toxins. Approximately two quarts of that water and other waste leaves the body as urine.
“The belief that sweat removes significant levels of toxins from the body is often exaggerated because most of sweat is made up of water,” the MSU Extension website says. “There is minor removal of heavy metals and BPA plastics, but the liver and kidneys do most of the body’s detoxification.”
MSU Extension says that a person’s overall nutrition likely has a greater impact on body detoxification than sweating because good nutrition supports healthy organ function.
“I certainly wouldn't rely on [sweating] as a means of getting rid of toxins. Our bodies are already built to get rid of toxins. So there's not much more you need to add to the picture. You just need to stay healthy and hydrated,” Soffer said.