You’re sitting on a train that’s slightly warm, packed with passengers, and suddenly you get a whiff of “rotten egg” stench.
Stop after stop, the crowd thins out, but that onerous odor remains. You search for the offender as subtly as you can, so you can find a seat in the opposite direction. As your head swivels, you’re hit with that stench again, so strong you could swear it was you.
You nonchalantly dip your head down toward your underarm — wait a minute. It is you. But you didn’t even work out today. And you took a shower this morning. And you’re wearing deodorant.
What you eat can directly affect how you smell, and in more ways than just your breath. Scientifically, this boils down to the way your body metabolizes the stinky sulfur compounds found in many foods like garlic, cumin, and asparagus. While smelling like garlic is not new (it is said to ward off both vampires and mosquitos), the stench of asparagus-tainted urine might not be quite as familiar and you may not have even realized that some of the foods on our list could have this effect on you.
If you have a hot date, an interview, or plan to be out in public, you may want to keep these foods off the day’s menu. And if you can’t, here are a few tricks to help deodorize nasty smells.
In 2006, researchers from the Czech Republic collected perspiration samples from meat-eating and vegetarian men. They then asked a group of women to identify the foulest odor, based on numerous factors. Overwhelmingly, the vegetarians’ body odor was found to be much more appealing than the meat-eaters’.
Deodorize: A simple way to remove potential stench is to cut out red meat all together. If a vegetarian’s life is not for you, try cutting out some meat and replace it with seafood or veggie dinners.
The taste of Tikka chicken may not be worth the lingering stench that comes with it. The aromas of spices such as curry and cumin can make a home for themselves in your pores, and stew for days at a time.
Deodorize: Even a brief brush with cumin can cause a lasting odor. Instead try cardamom, an aromatic seed of a plant from the ginger family, which permeates the body quickly and leaves a fresh aroma.
Garlic stink oozes from your skin because allicin, within another sulfur compound called allin, is released when garlic is cut or crushed. Allicin breaks down quickly after consumption and converts to other substances, which cause bacteria to mix with sweat and results in a strong odor.
However, it is said that if you are at dinner and both you and your date consume garlic, you’ll be less likely to notice it. (It’s up to you to take that risk.)
Deodorize: If your underarms become some serious stinkers, apply white or cider vinegar to keep you odor-free throughout the day.
The ripe smell of asparagus crops up in a seemingly harmless way, but tell that to the guy sharing five bathroom stalls with five other men. Asparagus makes urine stink when the sulfur compound mercaptan breaks down in the digestive system. If you’re wondering why your urine doesn’t smell after eating asparagus, it’s because your body doesn’t possess the enzyme to break mercaptan down.
Deodorize: If you’re afraid offending in a public restroom, try finding a tasty asparagus alternative. Bell peppers can easily be roasted or grilled much like asparagus without the after effects.
Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts)
Little kids across America now have a reason to snub some of these loathsome vegetables. These sulfur-rich foods pack nutrients and antioxidants that may help rid the body of toxins and carcinogenic cells, but they’re also responsible for severe smells. This stench introduces itself in the socially-crippling form of flatulence. The sulfur in these foods is responsible for the rotten-egg smell toots tend to leave behind.
Deodorize: Cruciferous vegetables are vital to our health. So, when you’re in the comfort of your own home, eat those greens! You can also par-boil to remove some of the stench before you finish cooking them. In the meantime, spices like coriander, turmeric, and caraway will not only leave you smelling fresh, they’ll help control your bottom.