Young infants and perhaps those with recurrent oxalate kidney stones should avoid beets, but most commonly the chief side effect is beeturia, the harmless passage of pink urine, though not all are affected, akin to the malodorous urine (“stinky pee”) that sometimes results from asparagus consumption.
I just presented evidence from this a groundbreaking new series of experiments suggesting beets can significantly improve athletic performance. Can’t be that easy, there has to be a downside.
Well, those who want their kids to get a jump on physical fitness should know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends we shouldn't feed vegetables to infants less than three months of age, but we shouldn't be feeding babies anything but breast milk at that age anyway.
What else? Beets do have a lot of oxalates in them, and though the primary means of preventing oxalate kidney stone formation involves meat restriction, and eating more fruits and vegetables, some people are genetically predisposed to oxalate absorption, in which case they might want to instead choose a different high nitrate plant food to boost their performance.
Other than that theoretical concern, only two side effects were consistently noted in these studies: no deleterious side effects, but subjects did, however, report beeturia (red urine) and red stools.
That’s actually the real name, Beeturia, the passage of pink or red urine after the ingestion of beetroot, and it doesn’t happen in everybody, which is kinda interesting.
Same thing with asparagus— only about half of the population gets stinky pee from asparagus, whereas the frequency appears greater among Americans. Those who produce the odor assume, politely, that everyone does and those who do not produce it have no idea of the olfactory consequences of asparagus. There is no reason as to why these two opposing factions should converse on this subject. A brief discourse with one’s colleagues will confirm such differences and verify this state of affairs.
It actually gets curioser and curioser. There are not just two types of people in the world when it comes to asparagus pee, but four. Some people get stinky pee but apparently genetically don’t have the ability to smell the smelly compounds themselves: some people are excretors of stinky asparagus pee while others are nonexcretors; however others are perceivers (able to smell the odor) while others can’t. So some people think they don’t have stinky pee but in actuality it’s just not stinky to them.
You’ve got to love nutritional science.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by MaryAnn Allison.
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If you missed the beginning of this series, start with the experiments described in Doping with beet juice and replicated in yesterday’s video. In Monday's video-of-the-day, I'll use beeturia to illustrate an important point about phytonutrients and return to the nitric oxide story on Tuesday. Have a great weekend, and feel free to spend it watching hundreds of my other videos on more than a thousand subjects :) For the asparagus lovers out there, check out my videos #1 Anticancer Vegetable and Best Cooking Method.