Beets are a great health food. This is why a lot of diets and salad include it. The one question everyone asks about these vegetables though is, can beets turn your poop red?
This article turns its attention on the “redness” that occurs when you go to the bathroom after consuming beets.
Is there something to worry about when this happens? And, more importantly, is it normal or safe?
Can Beets Turn Your Poop Red?
To answer the question as simply as possible, yes!
Beets can turn both your poop and your urine red.
The reason for this is betanin. Betanin is a pigment that’s found in beetroot. It’s one of those compounds that can change the color of our urine as well as our stools.
The good news is, betanin only changes the color temporarily. And it has no harmful effects at all. If you’re not aware that beets do this, you may get the scare of your life. But other than that initial fear of something’s wrong with you health wise, there’s nothing much else to it.
This red change in urine and poop color usually occurs between 12 and 24 hours after consuming the beets. It’s such wide time window because it all depends on the amount of fiber and water in your digestive tract.
The longer it takes for digestion and absorption to occur, the more take it takes between eating the beets and seeing its red results. Fiber and water help speed up this process.
In the same way that it takes a while for the effects of betanin to show in our feces and urine. It also requires some time for it to go away.
And this takes us to an important use of beets for medical and health reasons.
Using It to Our Advantage
Eating beets can tell you your “transit” time if you pay attention to the time. Your “transit” time can tell you if you are constipated or regular.
Basically, transit time is how long it takes for food to go through your digestive tract. Our bodies usually take a certain amount to process food.
This gives it enough time to absorb all the nutrients from the food for the body to use.
Too short or too long transit times aren’t good.
- A fast transit time means that you could be missing out on absorbing all the nutrients you consumed. This is what happens when you have diarrhea. The food and everything else just quickly passes, not giving the intestine a chance to fully absorb all the nutrients.
- Too long a transit time also isn’t good. The longer it takes to get through, the bigger the chance of constipation.
The Beet Test
Beets are useful in what’s called the beet test.
This test helps you measure transit time. By monitoring the time between you consumed the beets and when you go to the bathroom to poop red, you’ll be able to tell whether or not you’re bowel movement is regular or constipated.
How it Works
- Step 1: Pay attention to the time when you eat raw or roasted beets.
- Step 2: Then wait for them to be eliminated.
- Step 3: Most people who are regular illuminate the beets 12 to 24 hours later.
What the Results of the Beet Test Mean
Here are the common results of the beet test, and what you should do in case of each one.
Scenario #1: You Poop Red More Than 24 Hours After Eating Beets
If it takes longer, it’s a strong indication that you’re constipated. And, that you need to add fiber and water to your diet.
Adding fiber and water will begin to speed up your “transit” time to normal. This way the food is not fermenting in your gut.
Some good fiber to try include:
- chia or flaxseeds,
- fibrous vegetables such as broccoli, beets, and Brussels sprouts.
- Whole grains
If you are not used to eating fiber, increase it slowly to allow your stomach to adjust.
Also increase your water intake or your stool will be hard and dry making it uncomfortable to eliminate.
Scenario #2: You Poop Red in Less Than 12 Hours After Consuming Beets
When you do eliminate the beets, your poop and sometimes and your urine will be red.
If it happens in less than 12 hours there’s a good chance you’re not chewing enough or you are swallowing your food too fast. When this happens your stool will have particles of undigested beets.
This can also happen when you have too many stimulants in your diet.
If so, you are not absorbing all the nutrients in the food you are consuming.
When doing the beet test do not use pickled or boiled or canned beets, the pigment will not be evident enough.
Scenario #3: You Poop Red Between 12 to 24 Hours After Consuming Beets
You’ve got good food transit time. And regular bowel movement to boot.
These are good things because it helps keep your digestive system working properly.
Additionally, you’re able to absorb the nutrients properly from food, with no problems in the bathroom like constipation.
If you do fall outside the 12 to 24 hour window, you either have too fast or too slow a transit time. And making the adjustments mentioned in the sections above will help fix that.
Some Helpful Tips
Another helpful strategy to speed up your digestive system is to have a lemon water first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach.
Use room temperature water and 1/4 to 1/2 freshly squeezed lemon juice. Lemon helps stimulate the liver’s detox enzymes.
Lemon also stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile, which along with the fiber is a carrier of toxins.
All this will stimulate the digestive tract to have a healthy bowel movement. The lemon water also helps those with a lot of heartburn.
Although many believe heartburn to be from excess acid, when in truth 90% of those with heartburn don’t make enough and the food they eat is digesting by fermenting which pushes gaseous substances through the esophagus causing pain.
Is It the Beets or Is It Blood?
Back to seeing red in your stool.
If you are unsure if it is beets in your stool or blood, here’s a question you can quickly answer with a visual check on the contents of your toilet bowl:
- Is the red red, reddish brown or reddish pink with a tinge of magenta?
- Also, is the red floating in a halo around the poop and disbursing gradually? Or is the red clinging to the poop and clumping somewhat in the water?
If the red is magenta tinged, and dispersing into the water evenly, it’s probably beet juice.
If the red is clinging to the poop and disbursing unevenly from clumps, it is probably not beets and you may want to discuss this with your physician. It’s probably blood.