A lot of factors determine a person’s body odor including genetics – the predominant factor, overall health and, of course, personal hygiene. However, the food you consume also has an impact on how you smell. In case you maintain good hygiene but still have unpleasant odor issues, you might want to know if your diet lies behind the problem. Although, there’s limited research on how foods affect body smell, still there’s enough evidence to blame certain foods as contributors to bad body odor.
The food you eat has direct impact on how you smell, and it’s not just your breath that’s affected. According to science, this comes down to how your body digests the smelly sulfur compounds that many foods like garlic, cumin, and asparagus contain. Smelling like garlic is nothing new, but the disgusting odor of asparagus-tainted urine might not be something you’ve expected.
The following list includes foods that could affect your body odor in an unpleasant way.
Garlic contains allicin, an organosulfur compound released when garlic is cut or crushed. The allicin generated is very unstable and quickly changes into a series of other sulfur containing compounds such as diallyl disulfide, which are responsible for the pungent smell. This smell can be toned down in cooking, but have in mind that this also can destroy the active properties.
A study carried out by Czech researchers in 2006, examined perspiration samples from men that were on a meat or meat-free diet. Women rated men’s body odors (taken from their armpits) as more attractive and pleasant and less intense when the men ate no meat for two weeks, compared to when they consumed red meat. However, the study did not reveal how much meat you have to eat for it to affect your body odor, how long the effects last or whether fish or poultry have a similar effect.
Spices are just another thing to be cautious of when dealing with the issue of body odor. The aroma of many spices such as curry and cumin is so strong that it can penetrate the skin, and stay for days at a time. Interestingly, a mom’s prenatal diet—if it regularly includes strong spices such as curry, cumin or fenugreek—may affect her newborn’s body odor.
Asparagus is notorious for making urine smell like rotten or boiled cabbage. This is due to the sulfur compound mercaptan that breaks down in the digestive system. However, a 2011 study from the University of South Florida and Monell Chemical Senses Center discovered that people differ both in their ability to produce the odor and in their ability to perceive it, due to genetic variations.
Cruciferous Vegetables (Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels sprouts)
Apart from being packed with nutrients and antioxidants, plants including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, can affect body odor because of their sulfur compounds. It’s the sulfur in these foods that is accountable for the rotten-egg smell they leave behind.
When alcohol is consumed, most of it is metabolized into acetic acid in the liver. However, some of it is still released through your sweat and the respiratory system. So if you overdo it on alcohol, not only will your breath smell, but the odor may change too.