May 24, 2010

Asparagus anyone?

So last night for dinner, Beau and I cooked chicken, green beans, brown rice and asparagus. We LOVE asparagus...well, until we have to go pee...

For those of you that are completely un-aware of the fact that eating asparagus makes your urine smell, let me fill you in a bit. Or try it for yourself one day. Thirty minutes after you consume asparagus, I challenge you to go to the restroom without having to turn the air vent on...

After last night's episode (and today's since I had leftovers for lunch), I did a little research and although the pungent odor doesn't seem so good in the first place, turns out it means everything inside is working the way it should!

I was that person that googled "Why does asparagus make my pee smell?" and this was the result...

"The good news is that asparagus does not affect everyone. Studies conducted on the "asparagus urine" phenomenon (aren't you glad you didn't volunteer!) indicate that roughly 40 to 50 percent of those tested developed the distinctive odor. Surprisingly enough, there is also a segment of the population who cannot smell the sulphurous fumes of asparagus-laced urine. It is believed that both the generation of the odoriferous urine and the ability to smell it are based on genetics. Only those with a certain gene can break down the chemicals inside the asparagus into their smelly components, and only those with the proper gene can smell the results of that chemical breakdown.

Scientists are still not entirely sure which set of chemical compounds contained in asparagus actually cause the smelly pee. The stalks themselves do not acquire a similar odor as they are prepared, so whatever happens most likely happens after ingestion. Experts believe that those with a certain gene produce a digestive enzyme which breaks down the asparagus into various chemical compounds. One of those compounds is called methyl mercaptan, which is the same chemical which gives a skunk its defensive smell. One theory suggests that asparagus breaks down quickly in the body and an enzyme releases methyl mercaptan, which eventually goes through the kidneys and is excreted as a waste product in the urine.

Others suggest that the asparagus smell is created by other chemical compounds called thioesters. There is also a compound called asparagusic acid, which is not surprisingly found primarily in asparagus. If these compounds are broken down and mixed with the genetically-created enzyme, the results could be a strong smelling urine. This smell is actually considered to be good news, since it proves that the asparagus eater's kidneys are functioning as they should."

So there. I have a healthy kidney and apparently a gene I inherited to have smelly pee when I eat asparagus. It's very clear Beau inherited this gene as well as we have to space out our potty trips after we eat the greens. What's sad is that I'm 100% sure our kiddos will inherit this gene as well. We will just be one big, funky, urine-smelling family.

Sorry for those of you that are a bit squeamish, but I thought I would educate you all a little bit. I know I'm not the only person wondering this...I'm just the only one who will blog about it!

Happy eating!


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