8 Foods That Could Secretly Be Giving You Body Odor

Updated: Jan. 10, 2018

Yes, you are what you eat, but you are also the odor of what you eat, depending on—ahem—what you eat. Here are the foods to watch for.


Red meat

Going meatless isn’t just animal-friendly—it may have olfactory benefits as well. In a 2006 study published in Chemical Senses, women rated vegetarian men’s perspiration samples as overwhelmingly more attractive, as opposed to those who had recently consumed red meat. Because red meat is harder to digest, it leaves behind residue in the digestive tract that eventually mingles with bacteria, and then is released in your sweat. As you may know, there are plenty of health reasons to cut out red meat. But if the vegetarian lifestyle is out of the question, you could cut back on beef by eating more white meat like chicken and turkey.



According to Berkeley Wellness, when you consume alcohol, most of it is metabolized by the liver into acetic acid. However, a bit of that alcohol is released through your sweat and your breath (hence breathalyzers). This smell is worse the more you drink, so if you don’t want that distinctive stale bar smell, limit your imbibing. Here are 17 tips on cutting back on alcohol.

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As most of us know, fish is seriously great for your health and contains glorious amounts of omega-3s, aka the “good” fat. The downside? A 2007 report in the JAMA Network found that people with an unpleasant body odor tested positive for an inability to break down the food-derived compound (trimethylamine). Folks with this metabolic disorder—called trimethylaminuria—will develop a fishy odor when they eat fish and other high-protein foods.

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Cruciferous vegetables

Despite their health benefits, vegetables that are in the Brassica family—cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, for example—contain high levels of sulfur. This chemical has a naturally unappealing smell that can worsen your odor. The pungent aroma will escape through your breath, sweat, and, yep, gas. It’s one of the reasons your toots smell so bad. This doesn’t mean you should snub these veggies altogether; boiling them removes most of the stench. You can also add spices like coriander, turmeric, and caraway to level out the sulfuric scent.

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Asparagus is mostly known for making urine smell terrible. (Find out why that happens.)  Often compared to boiled cabbage, this scent is the result of your body breaking down the sulfuric compound, mercaptan, which can cause your body odor to suffer as well.


Curry and cumin

You may want to think twice before ordering the tikka masala: Strong spices such as curry and cumin can wreak havoc on your body’s natural odor, according to Medical Daily. This advice rings even truer for pregnant moms; a prenatal diet that regularly includes spices like curry and cumin could possibly affect a newborn’s body odor. Instead, try cardamom, an aromatic seed from the ginger family that leaves behind a much more pleasant aroma.



There’s a reason why “coffee breath” is a marketing tool: Furthermore, the diuretic nature of coffee dries out the mouth, which harbors the growth of bacteria and creates an universally unpleasant smell. According to Andrew Weil, MD, this can extend to your body odor as well. Stimulants like coffee increase the activity of apocrine sweat glands. Here are seven other things that happen to your body when you drink coffee every day.

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It’s safe to say that you don’t have to be an expert nutritionist to know that garlic stinks. This stench can be chalked up to allicin, another sulfuric compound that is released when garlic is cut or crushed. After consumption, it quickly breaks down in the body and converts to other odiferous substances that mingle with bacteria and seep out in your sweat. However, some recent studies have actually indicated that this smell may be construed as sexy by some, so we’ll let you be the judge. If you’re trying to get rid of garlic breath, here’s how.