Why Does my Pee Smell Weird?

(Who can be the first to name this movie in the comments below?)

Have you ever gone number one and have a strange scent tickle your nostrils? Before you panic, think back to what you have eaten recently. It was probably the asparagus! It is a perfect time to talk about asparagus, because it is a perennial plant and is commonly in season in the springtime.

Asparagus has been used in meals and medicines for a long time. There is even a image of asparagus depicted on Egyptian carvings dating back to 3000 BC! It was customary in Roman times to eat asparagus in the Alps for the Feast of Epicurus and Emperor Augustus even created the “Asparagus Fleet” to carry the harvest up the mountains. A recipe for asparagus is also found in the oldest surviving cookbook from the third century AD.

Even today, it is such a widely loved and available crop that several places around the world like Sacramento-San Juaquin River Delta Region, Hart Michigan, and the Vale of Evesham in Worcestershire England have yearly festivals and celebrations honoring the crop.

One of the greatest things about asparagus is the nutrition. It is very low in calories which is great to help you burn off the extra layer of coating put on in the winter. It is also very good for the heart which is great for those with high blood pressure. Asparagus is chalked full of vitamins and minerals as well. You get loads of vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, dietary fibre, protein, zinc, folic acid, iron, potassium and pretty much every other good nutrition your body needs.

The only downside to the goodness asparagus does to your body is the far-out smell it causes in your urine. The strange odor is caused by asparagusic acid which is broken down into several sulfur-containing compounds, which are then excreted in urine. However, some of you might be thinking, “Wait, I’ve eaten plenty of asparagus and my urine is fine. This guy must be off-his-rockers.” There is truth to that thinking. I am pretty off-my-rockers and many people cannot detect the smell of asparagus-tainted urine. It used to be widely debated whether or not everyone produced strangely smelling urine after consuming asparagus, but recently a 2010 study showed that while asparagus does affect the smell of some urine more than others, there is actually an identifiable gene that determines whether or not you can smell the strange odor. So even if you can’t smell it, someone in the urinal next to you probably knows what you’ve been eating for dinner.

Next time you catch yourself wafting that strange musty smell, remember the great benefits of the asparagus you just ate. And if you haven’t eaten asparagus recently and you smell something strong, you should consider going to the doctor to get checked out for an infection or urinary stones.


    Rhett Hildebrandt
    Monthly Newsletter Contributor since 2017
    Email the author! rhett@dvo.com

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