Beets are extremely nutrient dense as well as versatile and healthy. Beet lovers will use every part of the root vegetable, and they won’t throw away the beet greens.
Beet greens and beets are both excellent in salads or smoothies. Roasting beets with olive oil and salt makes for a tasty side dish. Beets also make a delicious and rich Russian soup called borscht. Juicing is also an easy way to get a quick dose of healthy beet power.
Types of Beets
I enjoy using beets for a variety of reasons. For starters, there are several varieties of beets with different sizes, shapes, and colors. There is the classic dark red beet, which has a deep color without any rings or streaks.
Types of red beet include Detroit Dark Red, Crosby Egyptian, and Crapaudine. Other popular beet types include the mild tasting golden or yellow beets. Some farmers will grow varieties such as Golden Detroit, Burpee’s Golden, and Golden. There are also striped beets with the varieties Bassano or Chioggia beets. There are also cylindrical shaped Danish heirloom beets, which are visually appealing.Ad
Benefits of Beets
Beets are full of health benefits. For example, beets are high in immune-boosting vitamin C and other nutrients like fiber, potassium, manganese, magnesium, tryptophan, and B vitamins like folate. The beet greens are also full of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, protein, zinc, fiber, and vitamin B6. Beet greens even contain more iron than spinach.
Beet consumption can also help reduce the risk of certain disease and treat various health conditions, including dementia, hypertension, cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and digestive issues. Beets contain energy-boosting, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. The betalain pigments in beets help the body support the Phase 2 detoxification process. In other words, beets help purify your liver and blood. Beet greens can help prevent osteoporosis, fight Alzheimer’s disease, and strengthen your immune system.
Beets and Your Stool
Although beets are nutritious and delicious, they can also leave behind a sudden surprise in your toilet bowl!
Warning: This may be shocking, especially if you are new to eating beets. Let me explain…
The other day I ate some roasted beets with dinner. The next day my stool looked redder than normal. In situations like these, it is best not to panic. It is a common thing, and the medical term is called beeturia. It is a harmless condition where undigested beet juice will be seen in your urine or stool. You may see red or pink after beet consumption. To be exact, you should see a distinct light reddish-fuchsia or light reddish-magenta color. It is a color you just won’t see with pure blood.
Since beets are high in fiber, it will encourage quicker digestion. As a result, you may see the bright beet pigments in your stool. The color of many natural foods is largely altered from enzymes during digestion; however, beets pigments tend to remain undamaged. This is why it is not uncommon to see a red tinge in your stool within 48 hours of consuming beets.
Causes of Blood in Stool
On the other hand, if beets haven’t been on the menu in the last two days, the pink tinge in your toilet bowl may in fact be blood. This is a condition called rectal bleeding—the medical term is hematochezia. A person with blood in the stool may be oblivious to the fact. However, there may be other noticeable symptoms such as weight loss, diarrhea, palpitations, fainting, vomiting, weakness, and abdominal pain. Still, don’t panic, there are a variety of factors that might cause your rectal bleeding:
- Hemorrhoids: When there is bright red blood in your stool, hemorrhoids may be the cause. They are swollen blood vessels from the anus or rectum that are itchy, painful, and may show bleeding. A common symptom of hemorrhoids is painless rectal bleeding during a bowel movement. You may find that bright red blood will coat your stool. Blood may also stain the toilet paper or drip into the toilet.
- Anal fissure: An anal fissure is a small tear or cut in the tissue lining of your anus. It will look similar to cracks from a paper cut or chapped lips. The most common cause of anal fissures are the act of passing hard, large, and painful stool. Anal fissures will cause bleeding and a sensation of burning, ripping, or tearing after or during a bowel movement.
- Peptic ulcers: A peptic ulcer is an open sore inside the lining of the upper end of the small intestine or the stomach. A main cause of peptic ulcers is a bacterial infection called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). Long-term or high use of anti-inflammatory drugs will also cause ulcers. Without treatment, severe peptic ulcers can cause black or dark stools due to bleeding.
- Diverticular disease: Diverticular disease is also called diverticulosis. It is a condition known for small abnormal pouches on the colon wall. Complications will occur in 20% of those with diverticulosis, including diverticular rectal bleeding. Another complication is a diverticular infection called diverticulitis. If there is a large amount of blood in the stool from diverticular bleeding, visit a doctor as soon as possible.
- Gastroenteritis: Gastroenteritis is a bacterial or viral infection of the bowel and stomach. Diarrhea is a common symptom of the condition, and you may find traces of mucous and blood in your stool. Other symptoms will include stomach cramps and vomiting. Your immune system will likely fight gastroenteritis for a few days.
- Inflammatory bowel disease: Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is the general term to describe chronic inflammatory intestine disorders. The two main types include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In IBD, bleeding from the rectum and large intestine is often red or bright red. On the other hand, blood from higher up in the digestive tract will form darker red or black stool.
- Angiodysplasia: Angiodysplasia is a small vascular gut malformation. The condition of fragile, abnormal blood vessels in the colon will lead to gastrointestinal bleeding. It often occurs on the right side of the colon, and it is more common in older adults and the elderly.
- Polyps or cancer: This is probably the most serious reason for blood in your stool, but in this case, you likely won’t see it with the naked eye. Polyps are benign growths that will grow, bleed, and later cause colorectal cancer. In the U.S., it is the fourth most common cancer.
Other blood in stool causes includes esophageal problems, bowel ischemia, gastritis, or trauma. Certain medications like laxatives may also cause a pinkish hue in the urine.
When to Contact Your Doctor
Regardless of what you think the cause might be, always contact your doctor just to be on the safe side when blood in the stool is a concern. Your doctor may suggest certain tests to help determine the causes of blood in your stool. The tests may include an angiography, barium x-rays, bleeding scans, blood studies, a colonoscopy, an esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD), stool culture, H. pylori detection tests, capsule endoscopy, laparotomy, radionuclide imaging, or a double balloon enteroscopy.
It is also important to note that digestion may be a problem with other red foods. You may see a red color from eating tomatoes, rhubarb, or berries. Make note of everything you’ve eaten within a two-day period. This will prevent you from panicking the next time you think you see blood in your stool.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Mateljan, G., The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the healthiest way of eating (Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation), 244-251.
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