April 22, 2008

Asparagus Mystery

There's something strange I noticed a few years ago while eating asparagus. It was around the time when I had dusted off the Hamilton Beach Grill I had. Someone had brought asparagus to a barbecue I attended and all they did was put olive oil and salt on it to season it.

It tasted amazing so I went home and did it myself.

The strange thing was, for the rest of the evening my pee smelled really gross. Kind of like rotten cabbage. I didn't think much of it until about a few months later, I was over at Pastor Vic's place for a BBQ, and we were all eating kabob's, and I offered Mike some asparagus, and he said "No thanks, I don't want my pee to smell funny afterwards."

Since then I've always noted the smell of pee after asparagus. It's quite a phenomenon. I even told my mom about it but she didn't believe me because it never happened to them.

As it turns out, asparagus has amino acids, whereupon if they can be broken down by your stomach enzymes, one component called "methyl mercaptan" really really smells. And only 40% of the world's population experience this.

Apparently scientists are split when it comes the actual cause of the smell (why some people smell it and some don't). Some believe that more than half the world's population lacks the genetic enzyme required to break down the amino acids to methyl mercaptan, while scientists believe that everyone can do this but only 40% of the world's population have the genes to be able to smell it in the urine.

This is pretty fascinating to me. This means that some scientists believe that two people could be standing side-by-side in a bathroom and one would smell the awful pungent smell of asparagus pee, while the other wouldn't smell a thing..

Does your pee smell especially worse when you eat asparagus?

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