Asparagus Pee, Pine Nut Mouth, And Other Crazy Ways Food Affects The Body


Don’t be caught off guard after eating these foods! (Photo: Flickr/Yahoo)

You eat food to fuel your body — and, of course, because it’s delicious. But sometimes what you eat can affect your body in ways that are both freaky and fascinating.

“Many foods contain vitamins or minerals that interact with your body chemistry,” Amy B. Hollingsworth, PhD, a natural science biology professor at the University of Akron, tells Yahoo Health. “Ultimately, the changes that occur with foods and drinks can tell us a lot about our overall health and wellness.” While she says many of these interactions go unnoticed by us, others are unusual and hard to miss.

Ever experienced “beet B.M.s” or “asparagus pee”? How about “red meat B.O.”? Here’s a breakdown of some of the weird “conditions” common foods can cause, so you can be prepared the next time things seem a little… off… after a meal.

Pine Nut Mouth


(Photo: Stuart Webster/Flickr)

You might want to think twice before eating something that contains pine nuts: Those crunchy little seeds can actually ruin your taste buds for a month. After eating pine nuts, some people develop “pine mouth syndrome,” a condition that leaves victims with a metallic or bitter taste in their mouth for an extended period of time, says Hollingsworth. Scientists aren’t certain what causes pine mouth syndrome, but think it can be exacerbated by genetics, a fungus on the nuts, or even fake pine nuts. Hollingsworth says the condition seems to be growing: “Doctors are not sure if pine mouth is a recently emerging disease or just being reported more often.”

Beet B.M.s


(Photo: Kari Sullivan/Flickr)

Had a beet salad last night? You might be in for a surprise today. Red beets contain a pigment called betanin, which is responsible for their deep maroon color. When you eat beets, the betanin interacts with the acid in your stomach and can give you red poop and pee (also known as “beeturia”). The weaker your stomach acid, the darker your urine after eating beets, says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, MD. And for some people, it’s too faint to show up. While incredibly freaky to witness, “it’s completely harmless,” Wider tells Yahoo Health.

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Fava Bean Pee


(Photo: Tavallai/Flickr)

While not as visually jarring as beeturia, noshing on too many fava beans can leave you with brown pee. Why? The dark brown discoloration is a byproduct of the flavonoids epicatechin, epigallocatechin, and quercetin, all of which are found in fava beans, explains certified nutritionist and board-certified family physician James Pinckney II, MD. If you experience it, don’t be alarmed. These flavonoids are good for you — they help reduce oxidative stress in your body and boost heart health.

Garlic B.O.


(Photo: Liz West/Flickr)

You already know garlic can give you smelly breath, but the pungent bulb can also leave you with body odor. Compounds in garlic, like allyl methyl sulfide, can linger in your system long after you consume the food, especially if you eat large amounts of it, explains Wider. Those compounds get into your bloodstream — and subsequently your sweat and urine, too. “Once your body metabolizes the compounds in garlic, the smell goes away, but some people are stuck smelling like a loaf of garlic bread for up to 48 hours,” she says. Went overboard on the garlic? Some studies have suggested that the fat in milk can help speed the metabolic process along.

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Nutmeg High


(Photo: Brian Snelson/Flickr)

There’s a reason why cooking recipes only call for small amounts of nutmeg: Too much of it can give you a hallucinogenic high. Nutmeg contains myristicin, the active compound in the hallucinogenic drug peyote, and ingesting a tablespoon or more of the stuff will produce a high, explains Pinckney. The spice can also make you sick, he says: “Consuming large quantities of nutmeg will lead to terrible gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, as well as heart palpitations for up to 48 hours.” So go easy on the nutmeg.

Asparagus Urine


(Photo: Liz West/Flickr)

It’s a smell that’s hard to miss: Hours after eating asparagus, you may notice a sulfuric stench when you use the bathroom. Asparagus contains sulfurous amino acids, which are broken down during digestion into components that cause a unique odor in your urine. Those components are “highly volatile,” says Pinckney, which is why the smell hits your nose immediately after you pee. Only about 33 percent of the population can detect the odor, he says, so you may never notice it at all.

Red Meat Sweat


(Photo: Taryn/Flickr)

A big steak dinner can do more than make you feel full — it can leave you sweaty and smelly. Pinckney explains why: Red meat is difficult for your body to break down, and the amino acids in the meat leave a residue in your gastrointestinal tract during digestion. That residue eventually works its way through your body and mixes with bacteria on the surface of your skin during perspiration, which can make your sweat smellier than usual. Not only that, your sweat glands go into overdrive when your body is breaking down the meat, so you may be producing more sweat than usual, too. “The change in body odor associated with red meat consumption can be minimal or quite potent and last from a few hours up to two weeks,” says Pinckney. A study from the Czech Republic found that the smell dissipates if you eliminate red meat from your diet and increase your vegetable intake.

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