Using Beets to Assess Digestion

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Using Beets to Assess DigestionBeeturia, have you heard of it?  It’s this fascinating phenomenon where the natural pigments found in beetroot (betalain) passes through your system into your urine, turning your pee pink.  I discovered this by accident one day after a minor panic attack when I thought I was surely dying because my pee was red.  I calmed down quickly after remembering that I had enjoyed a delicious bowl of red beet soup the night before, and if it turns my hands (and let’s face it, just about anything it comes into contact with) pink, then it must also be the culprit of my brightly-colored pee.

As it turns out, digesting beetroots can be a simple and somewhat brilliant way to test your stomach health.  The reason these colorful vegetables leave traces of their pigments in your urine is because the pigment is sensitive to oxidative degradation under strongly acidic conditions.  In other words, the healthier your digestive tract, the less likely you’ll have any pigmentation in your urine after you eat beetroot.  Stomach acid is a very powerful digestive agent.  When your stomach acid is low, it can cause uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, belching, heartburn, and indigestion (among other more serious side-effects).

Perhaps TMI, but my urine was completely saturated to the point it was more red than pink.  This was alarming and motivated me to make some changes to my stomach health.

Here are a few very natural things you can add to your daily routine to increase your stomach health:

  • Drink more water.  In whatever way that works best for you, try to consume more water, particularly between, and not during, meals.  I keep a water bottle with me throughout the day to help gauge how much I consume.
  • Add a tablespoon of lemon juice to warm water.  This is a great routine to add to your morning as a start to your day.
  • A tablespoon of coconut oil daily helps to kill bad bacteria and candida in the gut.  I have a tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffee every day, and it brings the deliciousness to a whole new level.
  • Use raw, local, unprocessed honey. This helps to repopulate the gut with good bacteria, keeping the “bad guys” at bay.

My underlying problem was my water consumption.  I was nursing and training for a half-marathon, and I was clearly not meeting my body’s hydration needs.  I now ensure that I drink at least 2-3 liters of water a day.  The result?  I can now eat beetroot without any sign of beeturia. 

The good news is that beetroot is both incredibly good for you and delicious.  If beets are new to you and you’re looking for a place to start, try the delicious recipes included in the beet food challenge.

Are you willing to test your stomach health and are you prepared for the results?