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Tag Archives: odor

If It’s Asparagus, Why Does My Pee Smell Like Cabbage?

7 May

Nobody tells you. It’s something you have to learn for yourself, the same way girls learn to pee sitting down and boys learn to pee standing anywhere.

It happens when we least expect it—an offense that’s sinful enough to bring the devil to his knees—asparagus-induced urinary odor.

If you’re like most people, you spend your childhood avoiding any vegetable not on a cob, much less one that’s green, pointy and prehistoric looking. But somewhere between your first cholesterol reading and your first heart attack, you stop eschewing and start chewing.

You discover one night over dinner with friends that you actually enjoy asparagus.  Until  . . .

Fifteen to thirty minutes later you go to relieve yourself and your nose wrinkles—at what exactly, it’s hard to say—grapefruit, garlic, skunk?

You scan the restroom. “Did somebody hide an Easter egg in here?”

You presume that someone in the bathroom is either: A) Suffering kidney failure B) Brewing beer in the second stall, or C) Has discovered the technology to convert toilet water into sulfuric hot springs.

Who let off the stink bomb?  You wonder.

You peer under the stall for a glimpse of the offender’s shoes, but no one is there.

The only logical explanation is that, by some freak of nature, your own body has released an acrid odor of volcanic activity. You panic; worried the toilet bowl you’re sitting on might melt away.

Your eyes burn. You’re tempted to light a match to mask the odor but fear you might spontaneously combust.

You hightail it out of the bathroom, leaving the restaurant owner to worry about fumigation.

“You won’t believe what just happened!” you pant to your friends. You spare them no details, except the part about dashing out of the restroom without washing your hands.

Two of them appear sympathetic. The other four look at you as if you forgot to pull your pants up.

Judy, a nutritionist, explains, “It’s not unusual. Most people have stinky pee after eating asparagus. It’s just that only about 25 percent of us can smell it. It’s the compounds in the asparagus metabolizing that make our pee smell so . . . distinctive. It’s the ammonia and other sulfurous stuff.”
Just my luck, I think. I can’t whistle to save my life, but I’m one of the chosen few who can produce odorous pee and smell it too.

“Don’t let that stop you from eating asparagus,” Judy says. “It’s a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc.”

“Well all right, then,” I say, piling more asparagus onto my plate. Why not? The damage is already done. But little do I know . . .

“There’s one more thing I should tell you,” Judy says, holding up a finger.

“What’s that?” I ask, as I swallow another forkful of asparagus.

“Its fiber content makes it a laxative, too.”

Food for thought:  What’s your asparagus experience?  Are you one of the “chosen few?”

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