Foods That Can Make Pee Smell Bad

Has your urine suddenly started smelling different than usual? No need to panic! Certain foods that you ate might be the culprit.

07 Jul 2022

You can tell a lot about the status of your health by the condition of your pee. Generally, pee colour indicates hydration levels, dietary habits, and potential undiagnosed ailments. But, the smell of urine can also reveal what's happening inside your system. Urine has a potent odour naturally that's a little icky, sometimes. While peeing, your body is on automatic mode to relieve and you rarely give it a thought unless you notice an unusual smell. A peculiar odour can certainly ring an alarm.


Urine forms when the kidneys purify and remove waste products from the blood. The intensity of odour is influenced by multiple factors such as diet, hydration, and medications. In some cases, stinking urine may not be a sign of disease, but rather the outcome of foods that make urine pungent, mentioned in a 2022 review article published in Frontiers in Analytical Science.


Related story: Your No-Nonsense Guide To Vulvar And Vaginal Care


Increased potency in pee is presumably due to foods you ate, dehydration, or health conditions like urinary tract infections (UTIs). Here are some logical and harmless reasons for the weird-smelling urine.


What are the foods that make your pee smell bad?


1. Asparagus

Asparagus can make your pee smell bad., According to a 2016 study in the British Medical Journal, 40 per cent of people can smell a difference in their pee after eating asparagus.


2. Garlic and onion

According to a 2013 study mentioned in the Indian Journal of Agricultural Sciences, garlic and onions belong to the same pungent-smelling vegetable family and contain sulphur. This component not only leaves a stench in your mouth but contributes to making your urine smell bad as well.


Related story: Add These 7 Superfoods In Your Diet To Boost Your Health


3. Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can make your pee smell. The reason behind this is your system breaks down toxins from alcohol and flushes them out through sweat and urine. A 2018 study published in Comprehensive Handbook of Alcohol Related Pathology states that alcohol contains ethanol which is broken down during the oxidation process in the body in two steps:

  • Ethanol upon oxidation is converted into acetaldehyde
  • Acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), a liver enzyme metabolises acetaldehyde into acetic acid, which is later converted in the cell into carbon dioxide and water.


Alcohol does not metabolise completely in the process, only a small amount (5-10 per cent) is excreted unchanged via breath and urine.


4. Coffee

Don’t we all love our coffee! You must have noticed your bathroom smells like coffee when you relieve yourself. This is probably because you might have gulped down several cups of coffee. According to a 2022 article issued in Industrial Crops and Products, coffee contains polyphenols such as hydroxycinnamic acids. When these compounds are broken down in the digestive system, they become waste products called metabolites, which are released in urine. These metabolites cause your urine to smell like coffee.


Related story: This Just In: Coffee May Hold The Key To Longevity


5. Cumin seeds

Cumin seeds are used in many curries and home remedies for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and potent antimicrobial properties. Cumin has sulphur compounds that can make your pee smell bad. A 2021 study issued in journal Antioxidants says, cumin contains bioactive components such as terpenes, phenols, a sulphur compound, 2-methylthio-3-isopropyl pyrazine, and flavonoids.


What are the causes that make urine smell bad?


1. You are dehydrated

One of the most typical explanations for strong-smelling urine is dehydration. A 2017 research article published in ACM Journals states that dehydration has three levels: mild, moderate and severe. When moderately and severely dehydrated, urinary waste products, such as ammonia, become highly concentrated and cause urine to stink.


Related story: How To tell If You Are Dehydrated: Symptoms, Myths And Facts


2. You may have Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A 2022 study published in Biosensors states that a foul smell of urine is a symptom of UTI. Women get infected easily with UTI due to the fact that urethra is exposed and bacteria gets in the bladder causing strong ammonia-like urine odour.


If you are suffering from a UTI or have symptoms, here are some resources to help you out:

Can Holding In Pee Causes A UTI

What Your Urologist Wants You To Know

The Lowdown on UTIs—Causes, Treatment And Ways To Prevent It


3. You are on medications

According to a 2017 research issued in Side Effects of Drugs Annual, if you are on medication and supplements, there is a high scope of getting a pungent pee smell along with dark shades of yellow urine. Some common medications are:

  • High doses of Vitamin B like thiamin and choline can interrupt chemical balance of urine making it smelly.
  • Drugs used in chemotherapy to treat cancer cells are reflected in the pee stench.
  • Diabetic medicines make urine odour unpleasant.
  • Sulfonamide antibiotics cause pee to smell like rotten eggs.
  • Calcium and iron supplements can add a metallic smell to pee.


4. You are pregnant

Some pregnant women can experience bad-smelling pee everytime they go to the washroom. The hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) that fertilise and aid in a baby’s development in the womb make pee stink due to a spike in hormones during pregnancy. Particularly in the first trimester, when lots of hormonal changes take place, this is also a time when a woman’s smelling abilities are at their peak. In other words, women’s noses become sensitive to all types of smell including pee, says a study published in Frontiers in Psychology, 2014.


Home remedies to avoid bad pee smell

  • Drink enough water to dilute the urine. It suppresses the noticeable stench to a great extent.
  • Cut down coffee intake to one or two cups a day. Try agua fresca (combination of fruit juice, water, lemon) instead for better hydration.
  • Avoid or limit foods that can make your pee smell, like asparagus, ginger or onions.
  • Visit the bathroom as soon as you get an urge to pee, as holding in pee may cause urinary tract infections.
  • Consult a physician for any guidance on managing health conditions or UTIs.


What foods can make your pee smell good?

Foods with high sugar content can make your pee smell good.

  • Pineapple
  • Instant oatmeals
  • Granola bars
  • Sugary and sports drinks
  • Pressed juices


Bad-smelling pee may seem worrisome, but it is often short-lived. It is good practice to drink more water and avoid foods that make your pee smell bad pee odour at bay. Nevertheless, if there is no change in the pungency of pee, then you must consult a doctor.



Q: Why does my urine smell rotten?

A: Stinking pee usually is the result of multiple factors such as diet, hydration, and medications.


Q: What causes bad-smelling urine?

A: Certain pungent food items (like asparagus, coffee, garlic, onions or cumin seeds.) can make your pee smell. Besides, having medical conditions and relying on supplements can also be one of the main reasons for bad-smelling pee.


Q: I do not have any underlying health issues. Why does my urine stink?

A: Foul-smelling pee can be caused due to moderate or severe dehydration.


Q: Does my UTI have anything to do with bad urine smell?

A: Yes, UTI is caused by bacteria that gets in the urethra and bladder causing inflamation and infection. Due to infection, urine releases strong ammonia-like urine odour.


Q: How would the urine smell if I have diabetes?

A: If you have diabetes then your urine might be sweet-smelling.


Q: Other than diabetes, what causes urine to smell fruity?

A: Sweet or fruity smell while urinating may be due to chemicals, glucose, or bacteria in urine.Another reason is maple-syrup urine disease, a genetic disorder where the body doesn’t break down certain proteins in the body.














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