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Why does eating garlic cause bad breath and body odor?
- Jan 30, 2018 -


What is the smell of garlic that makes people love-hate intertwined?

Garlic is the most common food in daily life. However, eating garlic includes dehydrated garlic such as dehydrated garlic flakes, dehydrated garlic granules, dehydrated garlic powder and so on. There are also embarrassing times, such as eating garlic before a date, which will make you very embarrassed. So, what is the smell of garlic that makes people love and hate each other?


In order to find out what the “garlic flavor" is, people have been searching for more than a century.

In the early 19th century, German scientists used high-temperature and high-pressure steam to “sauna" chopped garlic to obtain essential oil with a strong smell of garlic. Since 1844, scientists have begun to study the chemical composition of garlic oil. In 1892, it was determined that the garlic flavor originated from several unsaturated fatty acids containing sulfur. Until 1944, an oily, colorless and chemically unstable substance called allicin was isolated and identified as one of the main components emitting garlic flavor, and in vitro experiments showed that allicin had strong antibacterial activity. In 1947, the chemical formula of allicin was clarified. At this point, people finally found the source of the “garlic flavor".

Eating garlic can lead to bad breath. The main culprit is allicin in garlic. Allicin is known as diallyl trisulfide (C 6H10 S 3 ), and it also has brothers and sisters such as monosulfur, disulphide and alliin. So, it's a sulfur-containing substance with a strong pungent smell. Sulfur - containing substances often have a strange odor, such as hydrogen sulfide (H2S ) odor of rotten eggs. When people eat garlic, allicin will remain in their mouth, causing unpleasant smell.

However, it has been found that far more than that, eating garlic will not only lead to bad breath, but even smell of garlic all over the body, and this smell will last for several days. This problem has also caused confusion for two doctors in the United States. They injected a garlic preparation into the stomach through an abdominal fistula for an esophageal cancer patient and found that the garlic smell in the patient's mouth could not be dissipated even the next day. With scientific research, this problem has gradually been solved, and allicin will be decomposed into volatile compounds when it enters the stomach, eventually forming allyl methyl sulfide (AMS ), a chemical that emits a special smell of garlic. AMS cannot continue to degrade in vivo, but it can only be discharged from the body through exhalation, sweat and urine. So after eating garlic, even brushing your teeth and gargling can't wipe out the smell of garlic.

But!  British and Czech researchers have recently found that eating garlic can make men's armpit sweat smell " more attractive" and make them more likely to win women's hearts. Scientists have explained that a man who releases a “garlic signal" in sweat may make a woman feel his health image, and the odor of underarm sweat mainly comes from microorganisms, and garlic sterilization may make sweat smell better.

In fact, when garlic is still a white and fat garlic clove, there is no outstanding garlic flavor. But when garlic is chopped, mashed or destroyed, the taste of garlic comes out. Why? This is derived from two substances in garlic - alliin and alliinase. They didn't live together and were in different parts of the cell. Alliin also had no peculiar smell. When the cell's “room" was destroyed, alliin met alliinase. As soon as they met, they reacted quickly to produce allicin, which eventually produced a unique taste of garlic.

When garlic is fried, including dehydrated garlic slices, dehydrated garlic granuled, dehydrated garlic powder and so on, alliinase is inactivated due to the high temperature, so it will not be able to generate so much allicin. This is also why the smell of garlic after cooking is not so obvious, and the taste of garlic after cooking will not cause a big smell.

The reason why garlic has a unique flavor is that garlic should protect itself. Garlic produces its own irritant substance allicin, which keeps bacteria, fungi, parasites and so on from approaching. This also makes allicin a natural plant broad-spectrum antibiotic. It is said that Caesar ordered soldiers to take a garlic every day to strengthen their strength to fight diseases when he was on an expedition to Europe and Africa. It was a hot summer, the plague was prevalent, and none of Caesar had contracted diarrhea. During the First World War, the munitions department of the British Empire purchased ten tons of garlic juice as disinfectant to prevent bacterial infection.

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