Can Tomato or Vegetable Juice Change a Bowel Movement to Red?

Fresh tomato and  juice on the mat,
Don't be surprised if tomato juice gives you red stools. (Image: tatui1761/iStock/Getty Images)

Foods and juices with strong colors can change your bowel movements to red. This particularly applies to children and weaning babies. Juiced tomatoes and vegetable juices that include ingredients such as beetroot cause a red tint. If you're not expecting to see such as change, it can make for quite a shock when you look back in the toilet bowl. In most cases, however, this coloring is harmless and temporary.

Tomato and Vegetables

Tomatoes and some vegetables contain strong pigments in their flesh. In tomatoes, the pigment is the carotene known as lycopene. Vegetables such as beets contain anthocyanin. In both cases, the pigment stays mostly intact during the digestion process. This colors the mass of broken down food and waste that makes up a stool, so your bowel movement looks red. The redness of your stools may be a small price to pay for the rich vitamin and fiber content of most freshly prepared vegetable juices.

Babies

A baby's digestive system is immature, so his foods can't be broken down well. That's why mothers slowly wean babies on to solid foods. During weaning, juiced or mashed vegetables are commonly used. As pediatric nurse practitioner Mary M. Gottesman, points out on the Netwellness website, all vegetables are likely to change the color of a baby's bowel movement. In particular, look out for beets. They're great when pureed into a thick pulpy juicy for your baby, but you will see bright red stools. It's best to avoid tomatoes because of the numerous seeds that make digestion more difficult.

Seeing a Doctor

A change in bowel movement color soon after drinking tomato or vegetable juice isn't too much of a concern. If you notice your bowel movements stay red for many days, experience tarry stool or have pain when on the toilet, however, speak to a doctor. Similarly, if stools become very foul smelling, start floating on the water surface or become very watery, you may have a bowel infection or more serious complication. If these symptoms stay around for a week or more, ask your doctor for advice.

Fiber

Tomato and vegetable juices contain a lot of dietary fiber, particularly if the juice is pulpy and thick. Fiber helps bowel movements by bulking stools into moist, firm shapes that pass easily. In some people, however, such as those with irritable bowel syndrome, very high fiber can cause digestive irritation. This might lead to foods moving through the bowel faster. That means more part-digested food, such as tomato skin and beet fragments. This could make your stool look even redder.

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