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Why do many Indians have body odor?


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#1 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 11:57 PM

Alright, this is not meant to put a negative connotation to Indians. But I've encountered many Indians who did have unique body odor specific only to Indians. Some of the people might not be used to this smell and might have misunderstanding towards Indians. And I'm just wondering what are the reasons for this phenomon. After I've researched the internet, I've found the possible reasons to explain this phenomenon:

1. Biological Reasons

India is a very hot country. Due to its hot climate, Indian people have been biologically evolved to have more densely concentrated sweat glands. This allowed them to sweat more in order to cool down their body temperature in the midst of very hot weather. In addition, many Indians also have longer body hair and furs, which helped to retain the sweat to help cool down their body. Typically, sweats do not have any smell. They produces odor only upon reaction with bacteria growing on the body. Essentially, the body odor is the smell of the bacteria growing on a body and the bacteria multiplies rapidly in the presence of sweat. Due to more densely concentrated sweat glands as compared to other people, Indians have a higher tendency to produce more densely concentrated sweats, which in turn causes the reaction with bacteria to increase. This increase in multiplication of bacteria causes Indians to have a higher tendency to produce a particular body odor.

2. Hygiene Reasons

Compared to developed nations, India generally has a poorer standard of hygiene and practice. Many of the poor Indians (typically construction workers or those doing hard labor) did not cultivate the regular hygienic practice of bathing at least once or twice a day. This caused bacteria to populate and multiply easily around in India and to grow easily in the body of many Indians. Thus, the tendency for bacteria to react with sweat increases causing many Indians to produce a particular body odor.

3. Diet Reasons

Many Indians eat curry, many other spices, onions, salted fish etc as part of their regular diet practice. These diet practice can influence the sweat samples and its reaction with bacteria, causing the body to radiate the odor.

Source: http://zhidao.baidu....n/26539534.html


What do you think? Any comments are appreciated.
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#2 SNK_1408

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 12:13 AM

I think diet and climate are the main reason and because they have been adapted to Indian environment they have evolved or developed to sweat faster than others. Then again I find this similarity to tropical climate people as well.

So climate does make big impact on human evolution.

Edited by SNK_1408, 19 August 2009 - 12:14 AM.

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#3 LongMa

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 06:11 AM

I have worked with a lot of Indians for years, they tend to smell like Curry, I have not often come about "bad smelling" INdians, like I have Arabs.

That being said, I've been on a bus in Shanghai in the summer and many Chinese have a strong smell (from my point of view), most Americans wear deodorant and shower daily, so maybe I'm sensitive to body odor, but then again, I've lived in Japan for over a year, and in Tokyo, never "smelled" a Japanese person and most Japanese do not wear deodorant. Then again, I've rarely seen Japanese sweat. My wife rarely sweats, she has to be really really hot. My black and white friends tend to sweat all the time. I've seen Japanese men on the metro (JR line) in the summer with full suits on, ties button upped, in Tokyo. No sweat on their forehead. When I lived there I never wore a jacket in the summer and as soon as I was off from work I would loosen my tie. :-) I think some of this is genetic.

SNK, I dont think it is just tropical people, in my experience, being in America, white men sweat more than blacks...a lot more, I go to a gym 3-4 times a week. But blacks and whites sweat more than East Asians. South Asians tend to sweat a lot too. Rarely, but I have met Europeans who smell bad in the summer after being out all day, but very very very a white American. The difference is that white Americans wear deodorant, many Europeans do not. THere are also different grooming habits between American whites and many continental Europeans.

I wonder how much body hair has to do with odor as well. Indians tend to be hairy (especially North Indians), I think you guys are talking about Tamils in Singapore though, less hairy.

Edited by LongMa, 19 August 2009 - 06:13 AM.

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#4 Yizheng

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 12:45 PM

I worked with Indians too, and I never noticed any particular smell, not even curry, but maybe because that's because I eat a lot curry too. I imagine climate maybe does over time influence how peoples develop to cope with heat, cold etc. I do notice that white people seem to sweat a lot more, don't know what the evolutionary reason could be for that. I guess different societies also have different attitudes to body odours and different acceptance levels. Longma noted the American tendency to use deoderant. I guess Russia takes a more 'natural' approach, and when its hot here (and it can get very hot in Moscow, though not this summer) you can sure get a wide range of odours to analyse. I think the advertisers and personal hygiene product companies will change this over time, but for now, people are still allowed to sweat and smell.

#5 Shaolin

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 01:10 PM

Sometimes it is the nose.....One good example is the durain and the another is the "Chou Doufu". What smells bad may smell good to others......

Sorry.....But I really find this topic distasteful.....
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#6 ophelia

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 04:21 AM

The thing is, if for you Indians smell, for me Chinese smell to, and as I noticed for them I smell.
We all grew up eating different things, in different environments and so on, so I suppose it is natural for all of us to have different smells that others find "bad" or "different".
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#7 大泽升龙

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 06:08 AM

The real secrete of body odour is all about apocrine glands. They are much more developed on Caucasoid, Negroid and Australoid people. Mongloid people, especially most east Asians have hundreds times weaker secretion than their human cousins. Those apocrine glands mainly distribute around armpits, genital and umbilical regions. Since majority of Chinese population don't have significant body odour, the armpit odour is usually considered as a disease in China. It is very common in China, Japan and Korea to find a treatment for armpit odour - cutting off the skin under arm! For most westerners it may sound absurd. However, in China it is same unpleasant to have an artificial covering fragrance as to have a raw body odour. The unperfumed deodorant would be quite acceptable to your Chinese friends.

Reply to Longma's comment: I don't know whites sweat more than blacks at least from my observation they are pretty the same sweaty; but whites look more tired while getting sweaty. I believe some biological experiments were carried out to testify it, but since it is more likely to be twisted as a racism dispute many scientists just keep quiet.

Reply to Ophelia's comement: Compared to personal hygiene, eating habit is less relevant to body odour indeed; but in a long term run, it may help to reduce the bad smell from breath and fart. In China, it is very common to get caught by unpleasant smell coming from a unclean toilet, bad breath or dirty foot.

In modern society, it is really a cultural thing whether you take care of your unpleasant odour or not.

Edited by 大泽升龙, 20 August 2009 - 06:59 AM.


#8 SNK_1408

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Posted 20 August 2009 - 12:10 PM

Reply to Longma's comment: I don't know whites sweat more than blacks at least from my observation they are pretty the same sweaty; but whites look more tired while getting sweaty. I believe some biological experiments were carried out to testify it, but since it is more likely to be twisted as a racism dispute many scientists just keep quiet.


Actually White people sweat alot, lot more than East asians.
Mostly body odor caused by diets (food) is not that bad, but it can build up from person if person consumed too much of one particular food.

I'm bit of playboy myself, I have been going out with many girls of nationality/ethnicity, from all East Asians, Indian, Iranian, Syrian, Turkish, German, French, American (white + Afro), Greek, Italian, Hungarian and Brazilian and Colombian. And I've found that East Asian girls smell the best, this is from their sweating bodies and this is mainly because East Asian diets and genetics.

But of course this depends on each person and how he/she maintain their hygiene standard.
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#9 LongMa

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 11:22 AM

Just for the record I think starting a topic with this title is pretty racist. It is too much of a broad generalization to imply all Indians have body odor. A few people on this thread have stated that this is not the case. Would you like it if I started a thread that stated "Why Chinese People's Breath smells"?
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#10 Yizheng

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 11:48 AM

Just for the record I think starting a topic with this title is pretty racist. It is too much of a broad generalization to imply all Indians have body odor. A few people on this thread have stated that this is not the case. Would you like it if I started a thread that stated "Why Chinese People's Breath smells"?

Frankly, I agree with this, and subjects like this are delicate, I think, because although there are no doubt plenty of objective facts and explanations, there is also big risk of giving people offence, even if your intentions are not actually racist at all.

And anyway, smells are as subjective as everything else. I personally would not want the whole world to smell like something out of a chemical company's bottle. It is better to have all the big mix, diversity for the senses, and of course you have your preferences and your dislikes, but that's just life.

#11 WangGeon

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Posted 21 August 2009 - 02:01 PM

Body odor is pretty particular to the person. It seems to depend on the diet as mentioned above. Someone once mentioned to me that foods in Vitamin C tend to have a slightly more adverse effect on body odor. The individual's sweat glands also have an effect on this as well; some people just naturally sweat more than others. I have overactive sweat glands myself so I need to shower twice a day to get rid of body odor.

Just for the record I think starting a topic with this title is pretty racist. It is too much of a broad generalization to imply all Indians have body odor. A few people on this thread have stated that this is not the case. Would you like it if I started a thread that stated "Why Chinese People's Breath smells"?


Agreed. Considering that it's the forum founder that created this thread, it'd look even worse to a newcomer.

Edited by WangGeon, 21 August 2009 - 02:04 PM.


#12 One time poster

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Posted 22 August 2009 - 12:07 AM

Reading through the book called "The Two Koreas" by Don Oberdorfer I remember a section where he mentions that as the average South Korean became more prosperous during the 1980s and 1990s many more of them began to take up Western hygienic practices such as the regular brushing of one's teeth with toothpaste and mouthwash. He said that while in earlier decades public areas such as elevators normally contained some type of garlic smell, now that smell is no longer existant. Don Oberdorfer was not being condescending towards Koreans. In fact he seems to have a genuine passion for the country. After all he's spent a lot of time there since the Korean War. He's personally interviewed many of South Korea's past presidents making notice of the sharp difference in behavior of past leaders who were Japanese educated and newer leaders who were American educated.

I've also spoken to American GIs who have been stationed in South Korea. Some people have also mentioned how it smelled. It was to them a very unpleasant smell.

I've also noticed that some Indians do have very strong smells, but I always assumed that was because of the way they take care of themselves. Anyone can smell "badly" depending on their hygienic preferences. I remember also reading about how Indian tenants can sometimes be discriminated against in Singapore because they are assumed to have "bad smells" associated with their cooking practices. A Sri Lankan fellow was denied housing because he looked Indian.

In my opinion it's simply a hygienic issue. Anyone can smell "badly".

Edited by One time poster, 22 August 2009 - 12:19 AM.


#13 bandit101

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Posted 09 June 2010 - 09:20 PM

Everyone smells, not just one specific race! Itís the distinct odor that others are not used to that makes it unpleasant. Iím what some people refer to as Kim chi GI, meaning a US military person who happens to be Korean and a friend I made as a junior enlisted told me that I smelled like Kim chi. I accepted it as a friendly gesture and took care of it. Considering the environment, there are so many verities of different race and ethnicities I happened to contact and can point to some people that really does have bad odor; however, its not the Indian background soldiers. No matter what you are and where you come from, it comes down to one thing. If you donít take showers, you are going to smell. If you still do then you arenít taking care of your hygiene enough. It may be that some need more attention the some others (Koreans or Japanese.. so I read)
People, who smellÖ the ones I point to, are the lazy ones. That waits until the borderline of level of extent that others notice it. In such case of Indian decedents, I was a student at a university in TX. The CSE programs are one of the best there hence it attracts many Indian decedents. In support of international student orientation, the faculty introduced deodorant to students and I understood why they did. Unlike soldiers, College kids have hygiene problems. In every summer, I had to take a frikkin 8am class so I can stay away from the odor! Come to find out most of the ones that I know takes showers once every three days! If the F..kin day is F..kin hot as hell and you are sweating F..kin yous a.. off why oh why would you not take the f..kin shower, f..kin water cost only about 50 bucks a month for me and my roommate to take showers twice every day. We abused water like there were no tomorrow and its only fifty f..kin bucks!
Ö. I have to apologize. >_<`í its just that it made my college life worse than being in the God forsaken land of Iraq.
In all talks, all the fuss about rather some are from colder climate or hot, and rather some eat curry kimchi or peking, it all comes down to hygienic reasons. That is the fact from an environmental experience.

#14 Norm_uk

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Posted 28 November 2010 - 01:21 AM

The difference is that white Americans wear deodorant, many Europeans do not. THere are also different grooming habits between American whites and many continental Europeans.


Being European I can assure you most Europeans, especially Western Europeans use deoderant daily, and most of us wash at least once or twice a day even in winter. Americans are obsessive about hiding everything natural about the body though - and they have unfair stereotypes about other peoples, especially Europeans. We live just as long as Americans, longer even in some countries and we are just as big, strong and athletic. Some of us per capita are also richer than Americans. Our education standards are often higher too, especially when comparing state schools to theirs.

I think the main factor is diet and how we wash and what we wash with. Also water quality is a big factor. Indians don't tend to use colognes, don't wash as often, eat spicy food and their water and detergent quality is low. They are often not as willing to spend as much on such things but there are plenty of exceptions.

I've traveled a lot and lived overseas for ten years...if I had to say who the smelliest people were I'd say Pakistanis, Afghans and Indians hehe.




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