After eating sprouts, you’ll notice that a few hours later you’re producing some pretty ghastly stenches. But why do they cause such pungent aromas?
When you eat sprouts, bacteria in the stomach and intestine will attempt to break them down and will release a variety of gases in the process including nitrogen, methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen.
Sprouts are hard to digest because our bodies can’t produce the enzymes needed to break down some of the chemical components they contain.
“Sprouts contain high amounts of cellulose which is difficult for the normal human digestive system to process. As a result, a lot of the original sprout arrives in the colon where it is digested by gut bacteria,” a GP explains.
The body also struggles to break down a sugar called raffinose, which is found in other brassica veggies such as cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower.
Raffinose is broken down by an enzyme called alpha-galactosidase. But because we don’t make that enzyme in the gut, the raffinose ends up moving along to the large intestine, which is where the party starts.
When the body attempts to break down raffinose, the process produces sulphide and mercaptan, which the doctor describes as “the sources of the stink”.
“Some people have the right bacteria to produce litres of the stuff,” they add.
At this point in the digestive process, you need to begin to worry about what’s going to come out of your other end.
For those who are concerned about stinking guests out with putrid botty burps this Christmas, a spokesperson from The Vegetarian Society suggests eating more vegetables all year round so your digestive system gets used to breaking them down.
They also suggest adding dill or caraway seeds to vegetables such as cabbage when cooking, or having a cup of peppermint tea after a meal.
Meanwhile you can also “ventilate the room well” and if all else fails, “blame the dog or the grandparents”.