Originally published on YOGANONYMOUS — February 1, 2016
Rumor has it that your sweat can actually be pretty telling.
But I'm not talking about the telltale sweat that makes potential employers notice that you're nervous for an interview.
Rather this is a helpful benefit of sweat: Turns out, sweat contains a number of chemicals that, when collected, have the ability to reveal important health information.
While we may not like the way sweat feels—clinging our shirts to our backs and forcing us to slide off our mats—sweat plays a crucial role in a body's functioning: it helps to regulate body temperature, gives our endorphins a boost, and can detoxify our bodies.
And now, thanks to sweat, rather than being poked and prodded with needles and cumbersome equipment to gain insight to what's going on inside the body, a less invasive, innovative technology was born. A sensor, created by a team of researchers, is being used to extract new information about the body and how it's functioning—from sweat.
In a project led by Javey’s Berkeley lab, a team of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Stanford University developed and tested a sensor that can continuously track skin temperature and four important health markers—sodium, potassium, glucose, and lactate—all through sweat. Levels of sodium and potassium, both of which are electrolytes, can signal if you’re dehydrated, and lactate can tell if your muscles are fatigued.
As with other wearable fitness devices, this sensor has the ability to link up with a smartphone app to help those wearing the sensor track and monitor their results over time. But this technology delves deeper, revealing more information than the average fitness tracker. The sensor is also small enough to be tucked under a wristband or headband in contact with the wearer's skin. So watch your back Apple Watch and fall in line Fitbit—this new tech could just be the next best thing.
But... Since we aren't all able to be part of a study with exciting, new technology, let's take a moment to appreciate how important it is to be in tune with your body. Pay attention: Recognize when you're becoming dehydrated or need to give tired muscles a break. And always remember to replenish what you're working off. All that sweat and hard work means a lot of output, so be sure to focus on input too:Stay hydrated during your workout—and throughout your day—by drinking plenty of water and eatingwater-rich, hydrating foods. Dehydration can include a slew of side effects, so keep an eye out forsymptoms like dizziness, dark urine, and muscle cramps.
For now we'll just have to stay in tune with our bodies the old-fashioned way until we're able to monitor sweat instead of steps.