The Effects of Beets on Bowels

Beets are a winter vegetable and an excellent source of folate, manganese, potassium and antioxidants. The health-protective nutrients found in beets can help you optimize your health and fight chronic diseases. However, you may notice that the color of your stools change when eating beets. If you have sensitive bowels, you may also experience gastrointestinal discomfort and changes in your bowel movements after eating beets.

Close up of cooked beets in a bowl with a fork. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Red Stools

Beets contain natural pigments that give them their vibrant and dark purple-red color. These pigments are not absorbed in your body, and you may be quite surprised to see the drastic change in the color of your stools the morning following the consumption of beets. Despite eating beets, if you notice a change in your stool color, this could mean internal problems such as bleeding that may stem from serious health problems. If you have pain or the color does not improve, contact your doctor immediately.

Gastrointestinal Problems

If you have a sensitive gastrointestinal system or have irritable bowel syndrome, eating beets may cause you gastrointestinal discomfort, including bloating, flatulence, abdominal pain and cramping. Changes in your bowel movements -- including diarrhea or constipation -- may also occur when eating beets. You may try eating a small serving, such as a quarter cup, and gradually increase this serving size over a period of weeks or months, depending on how well you tolerate the increases. This will help your body adapt to the beets and may reduce gastrointestinal issues.

Tracking Food Sensitivities

Some foods can cause side effects. These may stem from a food allergy or sensitivity, but to make sure, your doctor may ask you to keep a food diary. Write down the foods you eat and your bowel symptoms or other issues you notice. If you only experience these problems when eating beets and you get relief when eliminating them, you may have found the food source.

Considerations

A change in stool color shortly after eating beets may stem from the pigment in the vegetable. However, this could mean internal problems such as bleeding that may stem from serious health problems. If you have pain or the color does not improve, contact your doctor immediately. Although you may enjoy beets, if you experience prolonged diarrhea or other stomach discomfort, you may need to avoid consuming beets.

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