Have you ever eaten tuna and noticed a lingering fishy odor in your bathroom?
Or maybe you’ve experienced foul-smelling stools after consuming certain foods like garlic or broccoli.
It’s not uncommon to wonder if what you eat can affect the smell of your poop.
In this article, we’ll explore the science behind why certain foods can make your bowel movements smell super bad, and what you can do to counteract it.
From sulfur-rich foods to the effects of giardiasis, we’ll cover it all.
So, let’s dive in and find out if tuna really does make your poop smell!
Does Tuna Make Your Poop Smell?
The short answer is yes, tuna can make your poop smell.
Tuna, particularly deep-saltwater tuna, contains a substance called trimethylamine oxide. After the fish dies, bacteria and enzymes in the fish convert it to trimethylamine, which is largely responsible for the “fishy” odor. This odor gets stronger over time and can linger in your body after consumption.
Trimethylamine in humans is excreted through sweat, urine, and feces. People have different amounts of the enzyme that breaks down TMA, so there’s a variance in the noticeable effect of fishy breath and sweat after consuming fish. A very few people lack the enzyme entirely.
So, what can you do to counteract the smell? Rinsing fish before cooking or using lemon during or after cooking will lessen the odor effect on you. Additionally, consuming foods high in sulfur, such as meats, eggs, dairy, garlic, and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, can make your bowel movements smell super bad.
The Science Behind Poop Odor
The science behind poop odor is largely related to the bacteria that live in our gut. The trillions of microorganisms that live in our intestines produce a number of sulfurous compounds that pass out of the body along with the feces and give it its characteristic odor. Indole, skatole, hydrogen sulfide, mercaptans, and several sulfides are some of the compounds responsible for the stinky smell of poop.
The way diet affects the odor of stool is by changing the stool bacteria. Depending on which stool bacteria are present, they make different gases, and those are the not-so-pleasant gases we smell. Taking some daily medications or supplements can also cause your poop to smell off. Antibiotics, for example, strip your colon of good and bad bacteria and open up the possibility of infections like C. difficile, which can cause uniquely foul-smelling stool. Some supplements, like fish oil, can also result in a smellier-than-usual bowel movement.
The pigment found in bile leads to the general brown color of your poop. These bile pigments are secreted when you eat and are carried by your digestive tract during food digestion. These bile pigments make it all the way out into your stool and are the main source of the color of your brown stool. But there are other things that also come into play with your overall poop appearance, such as what food you’re eating, ingredients in your food, a combination of bacteria, and how much water content is in your stool.
Foods That Can Make Your Poop Smell Bad
If you’re experiencing smelly poop, it may be due to your diet. Certain foods are known to produce odorous hydrogen sulfide gas during digestion, which can mix into your poop and add an extra stench. Foods high in sulfur, such as meats, eggs, dairy, garlic, and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, kale, and cabbage, are harder to digest than other foods. Your gut has to work overtime to break them down, producing a lot of gas in the process. This gas makes your poop smell bad.
Other foods that can make your poop smell bad include tuna fish, which contains trimethylamine oxide that gets converted to trimethylamine after the fish dies. This substance is responsible for the fishy odor that can linger in your body after consumption.
Red meat, poultry, fish, pork, and eggs can also make your gas smell bad because they contain certain amino acids that contain sulfur. If you consume these foods with wine or beer, it might be even stinkier as alcohol can also be a trigger for unpleasant, malodorous bowel movements.
To lessen the odor effect on you, you can try rinsing fish before cooking or using lemon during or after cooking. Additionally, you may want to consider reducing your intake of sulfur-rich foods or avoiding combining several sulfur-rich foods in single meals. Drinking more water and using probiotics to restore the balance of healthy bacteria in your gut may also help settle some GI symptoms if they are minor. Keeping a food diary might also help you figure out what foods upset your gastrointestinal tract.
Sulfur-Rich Foods And Their Effects On Bowel Movements
Sulfur-rich foods, such as cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and kale), dairy, eggs, and meat, can make your bowel movements smell bad. According to the Cleveland Clinic, these types of foods are more challenging to digest, and they can change the smell of your stool.
However, it’s important to note that sulfur is not inherently bad for you. In fact, it’s a common element that your body needs to produce the antioxidant glutathione and support blood and digestive function. Additionally, sulfur has been shown to have an antibacterial effect against the bacteria that cause acne and dermatitis.
If you’re consistently stinking up your bathroom, check in with what you’re eating. While there aren’t necessarily foods that make your poop smell good, there are certain healthy foods that can make your bowel movements smell super bad. Other common stink-inducing foods include lactose, alcohol, and sugar alcohols.
If you have a digestive condition like carbohydrate intolerance or dairy protein intolerance, consuming sulfur-rich foods can trigger foul-smelling diarrhea or constipation. People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) also often complain of foul-smelling diarrhea or constipation after eating certain foods. IBD is an autoimmune condition that can cause inflammation of your intestines.
The Role Of Giardiasis In Poop Odor
Giardiasis is an infection caused by a parasitic protozoan called Giardia. It is known to cause diarrhea, which can lead to foul-smelling stools. The infection can also cause bloating, nausea, pain, gas, fatigue, and loss of appetite. In severe cases, giardiasis can cause weight loss and keep the body from absorbing nutrients it needs.
The parasite is transmitted through contaminated food or water that contains infected feces. Once inside the body, the parasite attaches itself to the lining of the small intestine, causing inflammation and damage to the intestinal wall. This damage can cause malabsorption of nutrients, leading to foul-smelling stools.
The symptoms of giardiasis usually begin with severe watery diarrhea, which can progressively become greasy and foul-smelling. The diarrhea can last for 1-6 weeks and can get better and come back in some people. In severe cases, children may lose weight or show other signs of poor nutrition.
To prevent giardiasis infection, good personal hygiene is essential. Washing your hands often with soap and water and avoiding drinking water or consuming fruits and vegetables that may have the parasite are crucial steps in preventing infection.
How To Counteract Foul-Smelling Stools
Foul-smelling stools can be caused by a variety of factors, including certain medications, over-the-counter multivitamins, and imbalances in gut bacteria. If you’re experiencing this issue after consuming tuna, there are several things you can do to counteract it.
Firstly, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. This will help move stool through your colon more quickly and reduce the amount of time it has to ferment and cause a foul odor. Additionally, increasing your intake of fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help regulate your bowel movements and reduce odor.
Probiotics have also been shown to help regulate gut bacteria and improve digestive health. They promote good bacteria in your gut, which can help cut down on nasty smelling gas and waste. You can find probiotics in supplement form or in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut.
Incorporating spices like ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, and black pepper into your meals can also help awaken the digestive process and reduce sulfuric smells in your stool. On the other hand, it’s important to avoid foods that are high in fat or sugar as they can contribute to sluggish digestion and worsen odor.
Lastly, if you’re experiencing persistent foul-smelling stools despite making dietary changes, it may be a good idea to consult with your doctor. They can help identify any underlying health issues that may be contributing to the problem and recommend appropriate treatment.