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Pretty in Pee-nk

Beeturia, the passage of pink urine after beetroot consumption, is a reminder that phytonutrients circulate throughout our bloodstream, explaining the connection between “garlic breath” and the use of garlic as an adjunct treatment for pneumonia.

February 20, 2012 |
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Beeturia, pink pee after beet consumption, is totally harmless, you’re just peeing out some of the pigment, but it can be used to remind us of an important fact. When we eat plant foods, many of these wonderful antioxidant pigments—lycopene, beta carotene—the phytonutrients are actually absorbed into our bloodstream and bathe the organs, tissues, and cells of our bodies.

There’s no direct connection between our gut and our bladder. The only way those beet pigments are finding their way into our urine is by being absorbed through our gut, into our bloodstream, and circulating throughout our entire body before being eventually filtered out by the kidneys. Our blood for a time is a little pinker too!

When we have garlic breath; it’s not because of garlic residue in our mouth, it’s the fact that those wonderful health-promoting garlic compounds got absorbed into our bloodstream, and are actually being excreted straight out of from our lungs. If you just had a garlic enema; you'd still get garlic breath.

So when you see studies investigating the antibacterial effects of garlic and you’re thinking who cares what garlic does outside the body in a petri dish, that’s why we care, because it does circulate throughout our body. That’s why garlic has been found useful as an adjunct treatment for pneumonia in critical cases; it's excreted by our lungs to get that garlic breath and can wipe out bacteria on the way out.

Other than pink pee and red stools, which gives a whole new meaning to the term toilet bowl flushing, any other side-effects to beet consumption? One more.

Should you get run over while you’re out biking on beets, on autopsy, you might amuse your pathologist: the case of the purple colon…

Purple discoloration of the large bowel related to beetroot ingestion.

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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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

This is a follow-up to Friday's video-of-the-day Asparagus pee, a tangent in my series about the athletic performance-enhancing effects of vegetables that started with Doping with beet juice. For more on the wonders of garlic, check out videos #1 Anticancer Vegetable and the "prequel," Veggies vs. Cancer. And that's just one of more than a thousand subjects I have videos on here at NutritionFacts.org—an all-free, no-ads, and evidence-based (see links to all the papers in the Sources Cited section above) resource for all.

For some context, please check out my associated blog posts: Using Greens to Improve Athletic Performance and  Treating an Enlarged Prostate With Diet.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/mgreger/ Michael Greger M.D.

    This is a follow-up to Friday’s video-of-the-day Asparagus pee, a tangent in my series about the athletic performance-enhancing effects of vegetables that started with Doping with beet juice. For more on the wonders of garlic, check out videos #1 Anticancer Vegetable and the “prequel,” Veggies vs. Cancer. And that’s just one of more than a thousand subjects I have videos on here at NutritionFacts.org—an all-free, no-ads, and evidence-based (see links to all the papers in the Sources Cited section above) resource for all.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/vjimener/ vjimener

    Hi Doc!
    Can you give me your opinion about hemp seeds? I’m interested in them from the point of view of amino acids.
    Thanks

    • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/toxins/ Toxins

      Hello vjimener,

      If your wandering if hemp seeds are unique due to the “completeness” of the amino acid makeup, this is not a special trait. All whole plant foods, from berries, bananas and to greens, contain a full profile of the essential amino acids.

    • Joe

      I eat hemp seeds every day ground up in smoothies and on muesli. They do have a good protein content -10g in 4 tablespoons – but they also have lots of healthy fats – a good balance between omega 3 and 6.

  • http://nutritionfacts.org/members/docholliday2006/ Docholliday2006

    Hi Dr. Greger.

    I’m living in Thailand right now, and one of my favorite fruits is dragon fruit.

    It has the impressive ability to turn my urine and stools pinkish red.

    I’m wondering if there is a connection here. What causes the pink pee in dragon fruit?

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    For some context, please check out my associated blog post Using Greens to Improve Athletic Performance!

  • Radonna Willis

    I watched your beeturia video after my friend told me you only get pink urine after consuming beets if your stomach has a high pH level. Should I be concerned about that?

  • Derrek

    I have beeturia? Is this a problem? Anything I can do about it? I say it can signify a weak gut and possibly lead to leaky gut syndrome. Any advice? Thanks!

    • Tommasina

      According to the video above, beeturia is harmless and to be expected after eating beets! If you can’t watch the video for some reason, you can always click the transcript button under the video to read exactly what Dr. Greger says in the videos. :)

  • Mc

    My body odor smells like vinegar, does this mean I’m acidic?