Emma T. Gaskell

Why does my pee smell?

...I didn't eat Asparagus: A brief summary of what your urine can reveal about your health.

Our urine is an important part of our biological systems and is commonly taken for granted. It can reveal foods we have been eating, liquids we have been drinking, drugs we have been taking and what diseases we may be brewing all within it's odor, color and texture. What does your pee say about you?


Why does my urine smell? - Our urine can give us endless information about our nutrition intake and health. Stockxpert

For the record: Healthy urine should be a light, straw color with no particular smell (except in the morning when it is the most concentrated, best for drinking). One of the most common examples of a revealing side-effect is what the vegetable Asparagus does to our urine odor. But, why is your urine a peculiar smell, orange or watery if asparagus was not on your lunch menu? Any substance you put into your body (bacteria, yeast, excess protein, sugar) eventually make their way into the urine and can give it a variety or characteristics!

What commonly changes the color of your pee?
I'm afraid you have to enjoy your fruits and veggies to notice a natural color change in your urine. And no, combining jelly beans or starburst flavors will not cut it. If not asparagus, beets and blackberries have been known to turn urine pink or red. I'm sure you are wondering, so if I eat a blackberry my urine should be red? Well, no. Usually, the acidity within the stomach breaks down this pigment before it has a chance to escape into your toilet. You would need to consume a high number of these nutritious foods in order to have rainbow pee.

Do you take a multi-vitamin? Have you noticed a vibrant citrus color? Pills and foods with Vitamin C are known to give your urine an orange hue (eating carrots will too!), whereas Vitamin B accentuates the yellow color turning it a florescent yellowy-green.


A rainbow of urine from a hospital lab. - Photographed by laboratory scientist Heather West to reveal the untouched colors of pee within hospital walls. Heather West

Of course, many of us have had the concentrated, thick textured, yellowy-brownish pee that is usually from dehydration. Whether it was after a one too many brews, or a day of traveling without your American-sized water bottle, make sure your pee clears up after hydrating, this icky color can also be a result of an infection, which in this case should be consulted by a doctor. The opposite is also common, almost clear urine. This indicates that the body is very hydrated, therefore it rids some of the water within you. Blood can also be found in urine. For women this can be normal during there menstrual period but could also be a sign of a health issue that should be consulted by a doctor. For more information on uncommon, medically related color changes, click here.

What commonly changes the smell of your pee?

You are what you eat, describes more than just healthy and unhealthy foods. Some foods go in and out carrying the same distinct smell. Our friend asparagus is back, alongside:
Coffee - Coffee contains Caffeol, a fragrant oil that is released by coffee beans after they're roasted which is insoluble in water. Your bathroom will smell like a diluted espresso post pee. Could be worse!
Fish - Vitamin B-6 is prominent in many fish. This vitamin is known to have a fish oil or medicinal scent because it passes through the kidneys without breaking down.
Alcohol - The pungency in alcohol replaces the water in your body if too much is consumed. This explains the ' hot, beer pee' that comes out post boozing.
Doritos - No known effect. Just making sure you are paying attention.
Brussel sprouts, garlic, cauliflower and cabbage: These nutritious yums have a natural chemical in them called methyl-mercaptan. It combines with a sulfur compound in the kidney that gives your pee an odor.
Spices - It might not come as much of a surprise that after eating spicy foods such as chili peppers or Indian dishes, it may sting when you pee or smell a bit spicy as well!

The odor of your urine can also change when on certain medications or when there is an infection in your body. To learn more, click here.