Side Effects Of Beetroot Juice
Beet juice is hard to swallow and an acquired taste, but the promise of better oxygen supply, improved stamina are reason enough to make you grin and bear it. Unfortunately, the risk of developing kidney stones due to the high oxalate content of beetroots, and the possibility of stomach upsets, or unsafe dips in blood pressure can be off-putting.
Beetroot juices are a popular addition to juice bars and spa menus, with the promise of helping your digestion, boosting endurance, and even lowering blood pressure. Whatever your motivations for having this deep red juice, you’d be wise to monitor just how much you’re having. As it turns out, there can be too much of a good thing.
Why We Love Beetroot Juice
Beetroot juice pulps the goodness of a beetroot into an easy to consume, nutrient rich serving that’s quick to have and easy to make. This, aided by the beet-juice craze that’s swept the nation over the past few years, make it a popular presence in health-conscious menus and fitness plans. The nitrates in it have been credited with helping athletes improve endurance and stamina by boosting their oxygen supply to muscles through vasodilation. The nitrates once converted to nitric oxide in your body can help your blood vessels to widen and relax, allowing the flow of a higher amount of oxygen-rich blood to your muscles. This means you can go further or longer without feeling as fatigued as you normally do due to reduced “oxygen cost” of exercise.1
Research indicates that beet juice, as with other inorganic nitrates can boost oxygen delivery to your heart, improve overall health of blood vessels, increase duration of exercise, and lower your blood pressure. This lowering of blood pressure, in turn, could lower risk of stroke and ischaemic heart disease.2
Plus, beets and the juice from them are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and folate, all of which have a multitude of health benefits including aiding your digestive health, fighting off cancer, and cutting inflammation.3
Side Effects Of Drinking Beetroot Juice
As tempting as all these health benefits may seem, chugging down gallons of beet juice may not be a good idea. Here’s side effects of beetroot juice you must watch out for:
1. Kidney Stones
The single most important side effect to be aware of is the impact on your kidneys. Patients with kidney problems or those at high risk of developing kidney stones may be better off avoiding beetroot juice. The NHS actually lists beetroot among the foods to avoid due to their oxalate content, for those looking to prevent kidney stone formation.4 Oxalates are a compound from which kidney stones are formed.5 While the root of the plant is lower in oxalate than the leaves, it is still high enough to merit caution.6
2. Colored Urine And Bowel Movements
Also known as beeturia, this phenomenon sees your body produce pink or red colored urine. For some, their stool may also be this alarming color and can be easily mistaken for blood in the stool or urine. While alarming, this isn’t a cause for concern and is usually harmless.The dark colored betanin pigment responsible for this trademark reddish pink hue of the beetroot merely color your urine and bowel movements. This condition should pass in 48 hours or less, and stools and urine after this should return to their normal color.7 Once you stop consumption of beet juice or beets, anything beyond this 48-hour timeline may need to be investigated by a medical professional.
3. Unsafe Dips In Blood Pressure
Beet juice can lower your blood pressure which is good news if you’re trying to keep it in check. However, if you combine regular intake of beet juice with other medication that lowers blood pressure, including drugs like Viagra, it may cause your blood pressure to dip unsafely. Added to that, extended vasodilation and overconsumption of vasodilating substances could even result in cardiovascular problems. The drop in blood pressure and the cardiovascular collapse may even be followed by the person going into a coma. If unchecked, this could be fatal. While research has centered around synthetic vasodilators, you may want to be careful until further study is done on the effect prolonged use of beet juice.8
4. Stomach Upset
Beetroot juice when consumed in very large serving sizes in one go can leave you with an upset stomach. Some suggest you try and stick to consuming half an ounce to an ounce of the juice at first, combined with other juices so that your body learns to adjust to it. 9 There have also been reports of gastrointestinal illness linked to raw beetroot consumption.10 The fructans, a form of short-chain carbohydrates, can be problematic for those with a sensitive gut, including people with irritable bowel syndrome.11
5. Sugar High?
There’s no getting around the sugar content in beetroots and beet juice. A 100 gm serving of raw beets has nearly 7 gm of sugar. Assuming you make a serving of juice using just this amount of beets, that’s a hefty amount of simple sugars you’re getting.12 However, it is prudent to note that while its glycemic index around 64(medium on the scale), its glycemic load which measures the actual effect of a food on your body’s blood sugar(which factors in carb content as well), is just 5(considered low). In other words, you can safely consume beetroot juice provided it has no added sugars, even if you’re watching your sugar intake. Just be sure you balance it out with other foods and keep total sugar and carb intake for the day within prescribed limits for your health profile.13
6. Blood Pressure Regulation Issues
Prolonged intake of vasodilators may cause your body to eventually stop producing nitric oxide, according to some theories. If this is true, then in the absence of a natural blood pressure regulating mechanism, you open yourself up to the risk of high blood pressure in the long run. There is a divided view on whether or not the quantity you get from beets is enough to get you in trouble. But to err on the side of caution, side with the experts who warn that while natural nitrates are certainly safer than synthetic nitrates, having too much of these too, could prove harmful.14
How Much Is Too Much?
Nutritionists suggest keeping intake to under eight ounces a serving, taken no more than thrice a week. That’s the equivalent of about two beets run through your juicer for each serving. If you find the flavor off-putting, combine beet juice with other sweeter or palate pleasing fruit like oranges or apples.15 According to some health gurus you can have beet juice daily without a problem. But the reality is you need to consult with your doctor before taking such large quantities of the juice. If you are already on blood pressure lowering medication, this could jeopardize your health. Be sure that there will be no adverse reactions or side effects based on your medical history and other drugs you may be taking. And do not use this as a substitute for your prescribed medication without first checking with your doctor.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Beetroot juice boosts stamina, new study shows. University of Exeter.|
|2.||↑||Kapil, Vikas, Rayomand S. Khambata, Amy Robertson, Mark J. Caulfield, and Amrita Ahluwalia. “Dietary Nitrate Provides Sustained Blood Pressure Lowering in Hypertensive PatientsNovelty and Significance.” Hypertension 65, no. 2 (2015): 320-327.|
|3.||↑||Beets. Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition.|
|4.||↑||Kidney stones. NHS.|
|5.||↑||Chai, Weiwen, and Michael Liebman. “Effect of different cooking methods on vegetable oxalate content.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 53, no. 8 (2005): 3027-3030.|
|6.||↑||Ugrinović, Kristina, Veronika Kmecl, Mirjana Herak Ćustić, and Dragan Žnidarčič. “Contents of oxalic acid, nitrate and reduced nitrogen in different parts of beetroot (Beta vulgaris var. conditiva Alef.) at different rates of nitrogen fertilization.” African Journal of Agricultural Research 7, no. 20 (2012): 3066-3072.|
|7, 9.||↑||Murray, Michael T., Joseph E. Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. The encyclopedia of healing foods. Simon and Schuster, 2005.|
|8.||↑||Petróczi, Andrea, and Declan P. Naughton. “Potentially fatal new trend in performance enhancement: a cautionary note on nitrite.” Journal of the international society of sports nutrition 7, no. 1 (2010): 25.|
|10.||↑||Jacks, A., S. Toikkanen, A. Pihlajasaari, T. Johansson, M. Hakkinen, K. Hemminki, P. Hokkanen et al. “Raw grated beetroot linked to several outbreaks of sudden-onset gastrointestinal illness, Finland 2010.” Epidemiology and infection 141, no. 08 (2013): 1640-1646.|
|11.||↑||Fedewa, Amy, and Satish SC Rao. “Dietary fructose intolerance, fructan intolerance and FODMAPs.” Current gastroenterology reports 16, no. 1 (2014): 1-8.|
|12.||↑||Beets, raw. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28.|
|13.||↑||Foster-Powell, Kaye, Susanna HA Holt, and Janette C. Brand-Miller. “International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 76, no. 1 (2002): 5-56.|
|14, 15.||↑||Beet juice benefits. Outside Magazine.|