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Did You Know These Foods You Eat Can Cause Body Odour?

FOODS CONTAINING SULPHUR Plants that are in the Brassica genus, including broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, can affect body odor because of the vegetables’ sulphur compounds. So can foods in the Allium genus, which include onions and garlic, also due to their sulfur compounds. To see how pungent these compounds can be, try this experiment: rub crushed raw garlic on the sole of your foot—within about 20 minutes you’re likely to taste it in your mouth. If you like garlic but not the mouth odour, try drinking milk after eating it. A 2010 study in the Journal of Food Science found this may help.


Certainly excess amounts of alcohol can be detected on your breath, hence the roadside breath tests that can tell if you’re over the legal driving limit or not.

What you may not know is that alcohol can also emanate off your skin.

“The alcohol is metabolized in the liver and broken into acetaldehyde that goes through your lungs into your breath, but it also gets to the pores,” Dr. Swartzberg explains.

One or two glasses of wine probably isn’t going to make you reek, but a few too many (not good for your health anyway!) could. “It’s dose-dependent and individually based,” says Smith.


Here’s another reason to limit the amount of meat, especially red meat, you ingest–particularly if you’re a man looking for love.

In a small study, researchers randomized a group of 17 guys to either eat meat or abstain for two weeks. Then they switched groups. Women analyzed body odor from the men’s armpits at the end of each session, saying that the body odour of the men when on vegetarian diets was “more attractive, more pleasant, and less intense.”

“It’s mostly anecdotal, but I wouldn’t be surprised,” Dr. Swartzberg says, if the link panned out in future research. But it’s not clear how much meat you have to eat for it to affect body odour, how long the effects last or whether fish or poultry have a similar effect.


Various foods eaten by breastfeeding women (from carrots and garlic to mint and vanilla) affect the flavor of their breast milk. 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.


Fish certainly carry their own pungent aroma, at least when they’re out of the water. But can they alter body odor in humans? Apparently so, at least in people who have a genetic disorder called trimethylaminuria. In some cases, there is an interaction between your genes, diet and body odor.

For example, people with the inherited metabolic disorder trimethylaminuria develop a fishy odor when they eat fish and some other high-protein foods. This is due to an inability to break down a food-derived compound (trimethylamine), which then builds up in the body and is released in sweat, breath and urine. Though the disorder is rare, the authors of a 2007 paper in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences found that many people with unexplained body odor tested positive for it.


Asparagus doesn’t contribute to body odor so much as it alters how your urine smells after you eat it. Most everyone produces the stinky chemicals that are excreted in urine as their bodies break down asparagus, but interestingly, not everybody can smell the resulting odour. Though not a body odor issue per se, asparagus is notorious for making urine smell funny—somewhat like rotten or boiled cabbage. It has long been debated whether only some people are capable of producing the odour or whether all people make it but only some people can smell it

“Some people just can’t smell it,” says Dr. Swartzberg. “They don’t have the receptors in their olfactory bulbs.” About 8% of people don’t produce the offending odour and 6% can’t smell it, according to Monell Center research.