Photo: mamichan (Flickr)
Garlic-lovers, and the unfortunate people who live with and love them, are well aware that your breath reeks for days after a serious garlic fest.
Why don’t tooth-brushing and mouthwash really help? Why makes garlic so persistently stinky?
Garlic owes its smell to a sulfur compound. The fact that it stinks isn’t unique, sulfur compounds are renowned for their nasty odors. In fact, sulfur compounds in intestinal gas are responsible for the smell of flatulence. Those sulfur compounds are pretty potent stuff, considering that they make up just one percent of the total intestinal gas released!
Now that you know the fate of other sulfur compounds in the body, let’s get back to garlic. When you eat garlic-laden food, the sulfur compounds aren’t expelled by the intestines. Instead, they’re absorbed through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, along with other harmless gases and nutrients. From there they circulate throughout the body, including into the lungs, and that’s what turns you into a garlic-breathing dragon. Toothpaste and mouthwash may help for a few minutes, but the smell will keep emanating from your lungs for days.
Even people who take garlic supplements, or rub garlic compounds into their joints to ease symptoms of arthritis, end up with garlic breath because the mechanism is the same. Once the sulfur compounds in garlic are absorbed into the bloodstream, they’ll make their odoriferous exit through the lungs. How can you ease the social stigma of this sulfur compound you so adore? Surround yourself with equally stinky, garlic-loving friends!