by Erika (age 12, @KNEstemGirls)

Have you ever heard the phrase ‘You are what you eat?’ It sometimes crosses the line of figurative language. Flamingos are actually born with white or gray feathers. There is nothing wrong with them, but their diet of shrimp is what makes them pink.

Shrimp and many other foods have compounds called carotenoids. If eaten in large quantities, carotenoids can change the color of your skin (or feathers if you’re a bird).

When people eat too many carrots, sweet potatoes, or tomatoes, areas of their skin, like the nose and palms of the hands, can turn orange. This condition is called Carotenosis, because carrots are one of the major causes.

Some things that aren’t meant for eating can also change the color of skin. Argyria is a condition where people have drunk a lot of liquid silver which turns their skin a dark bluish-purple color. Unfortunately there are currently no ways to reverse Argyria.

Certain foods that are prepared improperly can change your skin color, such as snails which can turn you yellow (if you eat a lot of them). A college prank, usually in the biomedical department, is to spike someone’s drink with methylene blue. It is generally harmless, but the person’s pee will turn blue. (Please don’t try this at home.)

So if you wake up looking like a chameleon, well, that’s odd, so first thing to do is see a doctor. But as you go, try to remember what foods you ate.  If that’s why, next time try not to eat them in such large proportions. It can get weird.