Not only is asparagus delicious, it is also very good for us. Last week’s ‘recipe’ was a couple of tips on how to reduce post prandial parping. Eating asparagus can also help reduce bloating and excessive windiness because it is a good source of pre-biotics. For our guts to be healthy, they need a good amount of good bacteria in the colons, which should be living in constant war with the bad boys, both necessary for our survival. Bacteria are living things, so need to eat to survive, and what they like to eat are fructooligosaccharides – shortened to FOS. Apparently FOS are normally divided into three groups and both onions and asparagus contain all three. So for those of us who can’t eat onions, asparagus is a good choice.
There is a problem with FOS in that it feeds both good and bad bacteria, so the guts do need to be in reasonable balance for any source of FOS to help. If the good bacteria, the acidophilus and bifidobacteria, are in short supply then FOS will make things worse. What unbalances the bacteria is drinking unfiltered tap water, taking anti-biotics and going a bit bonkers with the anti-bacterial soaps and cleaners. Regularly taking high quality pro-biotics will help things recover and is now thought to be an essential supplement by leading naturopaths in America. But by pro-biotics I do not mean the overpriced, over sugared stuff like Yakult. To use a Poliquin phrase: taking these products is akin to farting against a hurricane.
Then we have the question of asparagus pee. Apparently everybody’s pee does smell after eating asparagus, but not everybody can smell it. Being able to smell it is a sign of having the MTHFR gene, which is a defective gene meaning we can’t process folate properly. This is not a good thing and leads to developing such fun things as dementia, heart attacks, strokes, fibromyalgia, poor kidney function, or difficulties getting or remaining pregnant. I have written a couple of blogs that attempt to explain the problem, neither of which are particularly successful. Patrick Holford has written a book The H Factor which does explain things. Essentially, if we can smell our pee after eating asparagus then we need to supplement with folate (or folic acid) in the form L-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, then we get the folate we need to stay healthy. And, interestingly, our pee won’t smell quite so awful to us.
So asparagus is good for us in that it feeds our resident bacteria, if we suffer bloating after eating it, it shows us that we have too many nasties lurking in our colons since we’ve just given them a nice dinner and asparagus can give us a sign of having a defective gene that directly leads to developing very nasty conditions as we age. So bring on the green spears. Eat them with butter and we do our guts even more good, since butter is the only direct dietary source of butyric acid, which also feeds the good bacteria in the gut.