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You start eating a nice platter of cheese, and all of a sudden, you begin sweating. You start questioning if it’s too hot or if you ate something wrong. While it is not a common reaction for most people, there is a scientific reason why it happens.
Can cheese make you sweat? Cheese can make you sweat due to its high tyramine content, an amino acid that can increase your adrenaline response and induce sweating. Also, you might have a mild allergy or intolerance to lactose. Finally, you might have a rare condition called gustatory sweating (sweating when you eat or think of food).
In this article, I will explore the science behind your “cheese sweats” and what you can do to prevent it, or if it should happen, steps to take after it occurs.
5 Reasons Why Cheese Can Make You Sweat
The 5 reasons cheese makes you sweat are:
- Cheese is high in tyramine
- You have a food reaction or intolerance
- You are eating spicy foods with cheese
- You are having “meat” sweats
- You suffer from gustatory sweating
1. Cheese Is High In Tyramine
Tyramine is derived from the amino acid called tyrosine. Tyramine is a “neurotransmitter.” Neurotransmitters are messengers that deliver important information to certain body parts of the body to cause a reaction.
Tyramine, specifically, affects the signals that regulate the muscles around your blood vessels. It increases your adrenaline levels, which leads to something called vasoconstriction. This means that the muscles around the blood vessels tighten to make the blood vessels smaller.
Smaller blood vessels mean more pressure going through, which leads to an increase in blood pressure. When your blood pressure increases, it can then lead to several symptoms like nausea, migraines, and sweating.
2. You Have A Food Reaction or Intolerance
Lactose intolerance and dairy protein allergies are some common food reactions you might have.
While there are common gastrointestinal issues that you might experience if you have an intolerance to cheese, like bloating, stomach cramps, or diarrhea, there are other symptoms that you might not be aware of, like excessive sweating.
If your body cannot tolerate a certain food (like cheese), there is an immune response inside your body each time you eat that food. This is because your body is trying to protect the organs from what it sees as a “harmful molecule”.
If you constantly have cheese in your diet, then you are putting your immune system to work overtime, which leads to increased stress. With an increase in your stress levels, one of the symptoms that you experience is increased sweat.
- Another symptom of being intolerant to cheese is getting fatigued or tired. If you’re experiencing those symptoms, check out my other article: Cheese Makes Me Sleepy: 5 Reasons & How To Fix.
3. You Are Eating Spicy Foods With Cheese
Spicy food is one of the most common reasons why people sweat. Peppers have a molecule called capsaicin. This molecule triggers the nerves involved in increasing the temperature in your body. In order for your body to cool down, it starts sweating.
If you are one of those people (like myself) who has hot sauce with everything, this might be why you are sweating when you eat cheese. Therefore, it’s not the cheese that’s making you sweat, it’s other ingredients that you are eating with cheese.
In other cases, some cheese has peppers or black pepper added to the mix, which would definitely increase the chance of sweating.
4. You Are Having “Meat” Sweats
The body has a harder time digesting protein out of all the three macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbs). Cheese is a food high in protein. In one cup of cottage cheese, you get 28 g of protein, which is almost the same as having 100 g of chicken.
Therefore, If you ate a lot of cheese (more than 200-250 g of cheese) and started sweating, you are having what is commonly referred to as “meat sweats”. Meat, just like cheese, is high in protein.
As a result, your body needs to go into overdrive to digest the extra protein. This increases the temperature in your body, which often leads to sweating so that it can cool down. While this is a common symptom when you have red meat, it can also happen if you have a large intake of any high protein product, including cheese.
5. You Suffer From Gustatory Sweating
Gustatory sweating is when you experience sweating after eating. This is not a common condition and it tends to happen due to an underlying medical condition, which include:
- Frey’s syndrome: When people experience sweating after eating, it could be due to nerve damage in the salivary glands.
- Diabetes: When the nerves have been damaged due to uncontrolled glucose levels, you might experience sweating, with a greater response in cheese products. This doesn’t mean that every time that you sweat, you should be concerned about diabetes, but if you have this condition and get constant sweats with cheese, it might be a good idea to consult your doctor to make sure you have your glucose levels checked.
Tyramine In Cheese Compared to Other Foods
As discussed, the most common reason for sweating while eating cheese is because of its high tyramine content. Different cheeses have different tyramine contents.
Aged cheese is the most common type of cheese high in tyramine. Aged cheese is when you leave it to ripen for several months (usually 6 months minimum) to increase its flavor. Some examples are Gruyere, Cheddar, Swiss, Blue, Edam, and Parmesan.
While aged cheese is one of the top foods high in tyramine, there are other foods high in tyramine too, which could cause the same reaction.
The following table compared the tyramine content per 30 g of food.
|Food||Tyramine content (mg)|
|Aged chicken liver||63.8|
Foods that have more than 6 mg of tyramine are considered a high tyramine food. When it comes to high tyramine foods, aged chicken liver is the leading one with 63 mg per 30 g. However, several cheeses are high up on the list too, including swiss cheese, which is the second highest.
Ways To Avoid Getting Sweaty From Cheese
Pick Low Tyramine Cheese
To prevent getting sweaty after eating cheese, pick one low in tyramine. Aged cheese is very high in tyramine. Thus, it would be best to avoid them.
If you are a cheese lover and can’t live without it, you might want to pick those low in tyramine. A safer choice would be to opt for cottage cheese, ricotta, and cream cheese.
Keep in mind that cream cheese doesn’t provide you with a significant amount of protein, and it’s mainly a fat source. So, if you’re eating cheese with the purpose of increasing your protein intake, don’t use cream cheese as a substitute just because it’s low in tyramine.
Avoid Dairy For A Couple of Weeks
Since one of the reasons why you might be sweating is due to food intolerance, consider avoiding dairy for a couple of weeks. This allows you to give your intestines a break.
As a Registered Dietitian, when my clients have this type of problem, I typically recommend my clients to avoid dairy for four weeks. After those four weeks have passed, we slowly start adding cheese again.
For example, start with half an ounce of cheese, and wait one day to check if any new symptom arises. If you don’t have any symptoms, increase it to one ounce. Keep doing this until you find your estimated tolerance.
My recommendation would be not to consume more than 3-4 ounces of cheese per sitting to prevent sweating due to “meat sweats”.
Opt For a Plant-Based Cheese
If you still have sweats after removing dairy options and including them back again, then the best option would be to switch it to a plant-based option. Plant-based cheese is usually made with almond milk or coconut milk, making it a great way to avoid this inconvenient side effect.
However, plant-based cheeses don’t have the same macros and calories as regular cheese. Plant-based cheese might be lower in calories, higher in fat, and lower in protein.
While this is not a bad choice, you still need to track the portion size and the macros to ensure that you are getting adequate nutrients throughout the day.
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