The Effects of Eating Asparagus

“Why does my pee smell after I eat asparagus?” This question has been plaguing veggie lovers for years, centuries even! John Arbuthnot, a Scottish mathematician and physician, wrote “asparagus…affects the urine with a foetid smell” in his 1731 book. This phenomenon was then documented by Benjamin Franklin in a 1781 letter to the Royal Academy of Brussels, Marcel Proust a french novelist in 1913, and even famous athlete Babe Ruth.

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These notable men are not the only ones who have noticed the unpleasant odor after enjoying a healthy dose of asparagus. Many people today also experience the same smell, when the time comes. So many people in fact, that this question has become quite common, and we have an answer for you.

Once food is consumed, it is broken down during digestion so that your body can absorb what it needs and dispel what it does not. When asparagus is digested the asparagusic acid, found only in asparagus, is broken down into a group of compounds containing sulfur. It is the sulfur related compounds that produce the unpleasant scent when you go to the bathroom. Asparagus doesn’t have the same rotten smell because asparagusic acid isn’t volatile. The scent is only found once the body converts the acid into the sulfur based compounds.

Much of the debate isn’t only caused by what the smell is, but if the smell even exists. Studies have been conducted over the years that have revealed about 40 percent of the population does not experience this smell after eating asparagus. As time has gone on, it is believed that some people simply cannot smell the sulfur compounds, but do in fact still produce them.

There is no rhyme or reason as to why some people can smell it, while others can’t, just know that it is normal to experience an unpleasant scent while urinating after enjoying some asparagus.

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