5 Healthy Foods That Do Weird Things to Your BodyArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Have you ever noticed that interesting scent wafting from your urine after you eat asparagus?
Now you can identify it. It’s asparagusic acid, which your body breaks down into a sulfur compound that turns into a gas that can tickle your olfactory nerve.
Don’t worry if you’ve never smelled it. Early studies did find that everyone produced the same asparagus aroma but that not everyone could detect it. But recent studies now hint that some of us don’t produce it and some of us can’t smell it if we do. In 2010 the gene-sequencing firm 23andme.com actually looked at what distinguished people who could smell asparagus urine and those who couldn’t in a group of 10,000 of their customers who supplied DNA. They found that a single genetic mutation that affects the ability to smell was what the non-smellers had in common.
The least of your worries, right? But it’s one of those weird conditions about which anxious readers routinely write and email the “Ask the Doctor” columns in newspapers and magazines.
Here are a few more odd conditions that can be traced to what you eat.
My skin is turning yellow!
Yellow skin can be a symptom of liver diseases such as jaundice and hepatitis, diabetes and hypothyroidism. More likely, though, it’s the result of something in your diet. If you’ve recently upped your intake of yellow and orange vegetables, you may have carotenemia, a condition caused by excess beta-carotene levels in your blood. It’s common in children and infants eating large quantities of carrots and sweet potatoes. Vegans and vegetarians are more likely to wake up yellow.
You may know carotene as a powerful antioxidant, but it’s also a pigment that your body sheds through the skin, which will reabsorb it if your intake is heavy.
There’s nothing dangerous about being Minion yellow. While too much vitamin A can be toxic, you can’t overdose on dietary betacarotene.
My poop is red!
There’s a reason that red is the color of danger. It’s also the color of blood, and losing it via feces or urine can be an early warning signal that something is wrong. If your bathroom trips have you seeing red, you should contact your doctor immediately as it can be an indication of anything from ulcers, hemorrhoids and kidney stones to colon cancer, says the Cleveland Clinic.
But, like yellow skin, it can also have dietary causes. When a food manufacturer introduced a spicy hot version of their popular snack food in 2012, the red food dye they used to make the product red sent more than a few people to the ER fearing they were bleeding internally, reported CBS News at the time. Red velvet cake, colored breakfast cereals, and other foods that use the dye can produce the same effect.
But so can healthy red foods such as beets and red peppers. It even has a name: Beeturia. The culprit is the red pigment in these vegetables that is also the source of their antioxidant power. Some people can’t break the pigment down so it can show up in urine or feces, looking ominous. It’s not.
In fact, some experts suggest that you use beets and other red veggies to find out what your digestive “transit time” is—how long it takes what you eat to come out the other end. If it takes more than a day or two, you may need to add more fiber to your diet.
Broccoli makes me fat!
And probably gassy, too. The post-dinner bloat after you’ve had broccoli or other healthy high-fiber foods, including whole grains, is caused by a build-up of gas in your digestive tract which your intestinal bacteria produces as it eats that fiber up.
Here’s why this is a good thing—except to anyone who’s around you: A Harvard study recently found that within two days of eating lots of good, high-fiber carbs, your healthy gut bacteria—which protects you from disease and maybe even obesity—becomes fruitful and multiplies. This is just one of the many health benefits of broccoli!
It’s easy enough to deal with healthy yet gassy foods. If you’re new to fiber, add it slowly. You’re less likely to feel like you’re about to explode afterward. You can also take an over-the-counter supplement that will help you digest the fiber.
I smell like garlic all over.
If you rubbed a clove of garlic on your foot, within about 20 minutes you’re likely to taste it in your mouth, say the experts at the Berkeley Wellness Letter. The reason: The sulfur compounds in garlic (which you’ll also find in onions and certain veggies from the brassica family, like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower) are pungent to the nth degree. The smell is likely to linger in your mouth, producing “garlic breath,” and, if you eat enough, you may develop “garlic body odor.”
To rid yourself of the aftertaste, wash down your healthy sulfur-containing foods with a little milk or some cheese.
Although it can be harder to eat healthy while working from home, these Eight Hacks For Eating Healthy While Working From Home are sure to help.