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Why Do Feet Smell Like Ammonia?

By Neha Kash ; Updated July 27, 2017

Foot odor is not just a problem for sweaty athletes; each of us can al experience this unpleasant condition, especially during warm summer months. While the most common cause of foot odor is wearing shoes that do not let the feet "breathe" properly or sweating excessively, there also are internal causes.

One of the more unpleasant results of foot odor is a smell that is similar to that of ammonia. Here is some information about why feet can smell like ammonia, and what you can do to avoid this unpleasant condition.


Ammonia's chemical configuration is NH3, or one part nitrogen for three parts hydrogen. The only source in the human body for nitrogen is amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.

Nitrogen and Amino Acids

Your body uses amino acids for energy at all times, whether you are exercising or remaining sedentary. The amino acids in your body are connected to nitrogen atoms, and they must be disconnected for them to be of use. Your body is constantly stripping nitrogen atoms from amino acid atoms so the amino acid can be converted to glycogen, or the fuel that helps your body function.

Nitrogen secretion

The excess nitrogen travels to the kidneys and leaves the body through urine. However, once your kidney reaches the limit of the amount of nitrogen it can handle, nitrogen is secreted from the body as sweat.

Nutritional Factors

Since nitrogen is carried through the body by water, drinking extra water is a good way to prevent some foot order. This will assure that the kidneys are ridding themselves of nitrogen and that sweat will not be the main method of excretion. Drinking extra water is especially important when exercising or working out.

Eating sufficient carbohydrates and fats, especially before strenuous activity, is another way to lessen ammonia order.

Your body will use what it has for fuel, including protein. It is advisable to eat sufficient carbohydrates, which can include pieces of fruit or whole grains, before a workout and throughout the day. Lower glycemic carbohydrates are more efficient in getting rid of odors because they are not used up by your body as quickly.

Eating carbohydrates after working out also prevents amino acid loss. It is important, especially for an active lifestyle, to preserve the amount of amino acids in the body so that muscle is repaired efficiently. Carbohydrates not only facilitate this process, but also work toward making sure that your feet remain odor-free.

Other Solutions

If your feet smell even though you are consuming an adequate amount of carbohydrates and water, foot deodorant sprays are a way to dry them out. If your foot odor still remains, consult your doctor.

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