Which Foods Make You Smell and Why?

How Does Diet Affect Body Odour?

Certain body odours, such as in your armpits, may be due to a build-up of bacteria, the kind of food that you eat may also have an effect. Whereas most people know how mint or garlic and onion-rich food will affect their breath, there are some components of your healthy diet that increase the volume of your B.O.

The answer (or one of them anyway) is sulphur. All the healthy greens and veg you’ve been encouraged to eat as part of a healthy diet, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and most plants in the Brassica genus contain sulphur compounds. The aforementioned garlic and onions also can affect your body odour for the same reason.

A surprising test you will be eager to try out is rubbing a pungent onion or a bit of garlic on the sole of your bare foot, which you will taste in your mouth around 20 minutes later. Got a date or a job interview and the taste of garlic on your breath needs to go? Studies show that a glass of milk should cover the scent.

Top 4 Foods That Can Make You Smell

So what other foods affect your odour for good or ill?


It seems like red meat can do no good. From raising bad cholesterol to now making you smell. Tests published in Chemical Senses in 2006 revealed that a diet of no red meat for two weeks was found by a panel of judges to be more pleasant. There is no evidence to suggest how long the effects last or how much or little red meat you can eat before it contributes to your scent, but chalk one for the vegetarians, who apparently smell sweeter.


Though these facts say otherwise. Going back to the initial point about the sulphur in some vegetables, this chemical smells when released in your sweat and also, following digestion, produces gas, which few have ever enjoyed the smell of.

plant based foods


You might already know this one from a morning hangover or drinking in the sun, but if you needed a reason for a detox, the effect alcohol has on your body odour could be a good one. When alcohol is absorbed, once metabolised into acetic acid it is released through your pores. Acetic acid is the cause of this bad smell. A high-protein meal and exercise is the best way to counter this issue.


If it weren’t for the sulphur of certain vegetables this would by now be looking like all of the things that you should limit in a healthy diet are also what have been causing any bad body odours, as last on our list is carbohydrates.

Carbs are often underestimated, or rather considered as the bad guy in the saga of your fit and healthy lifestyle, but are definitely not something you should cut out. Your body needs them for energy and for when it needs to call on some fuel to keep you going through the day and any strenuous workouts.

When you cut carbs from your diet your body produces ketone bodies – one of which produces acetone, which gives off a strong smell – particularly in the form of bad breath. So, there you have another reason not to avoid carbs. As well as being a primary energy source, cutting them off will make you pong. Remember: there are healthier options for your daily carbs, like oats and sweet potatoes.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye has a MSc in Sport Physiology and Nutrition, and puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. She enjoys a pun, and in her spare time loves dog walking and eating out.

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