beet

Beet Poisoning Symptoms

Believe it or not, eating too much beetroot is bad for you and could result in you experiencing beet poisoning symptoms. A beet is a vegetable with many health benefits packed in them. They contain essential nutrients such as Vitamin C, fiber, and potassium. Eating beets can boost your energy level, increase your brainpower, and enhance your immune system.

However, consuming large amounts of beets can have adverse effects that not many people know of. Beets can cause beeturia, where the urine turns red or pink. It also contains a high level of nitrates which can cause your blood pressure to drop. Beets have elevated levels of oxalates, which can aggravate kidney stones in people prone to kidney disorder.

Symptoms Of Beet Poisoning

Beeturia

The main symptom that presents with beet poisoning is discolored urine or stools. Urine appears red or pink after consuming beetroot or other by-products of beetroots such as juices or foods containing extracts or pigments from beetroot. 

How discolored the urine is may vary in different individuals. It also varies based on the form of beetroot ingested. Raw beetroot juice would cause a darker shade of red or pink urine, while cooked beets may result in a lighter shade of pink or red.

Allergic Reactions

There are those that are allergic to some of the nutrients in this vegetable. These reactions may present with skin rash, hives, fever, chills, and itching.

There have also been claims that overconsumption of beets may cause low calcium levels and even kidney damage.

Nitrate Poisoning

While fitness enthusiasts swear by the efficacy and nutrient-filled benefits of beetroot, overconsumption of this vegetable can lead to nitrate poisoning. When in the body, nitrates are transformed into to nitric oxide and act as a vasodilator. This causes the blood vessels to expand, enhancing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the muscle cells.

But too much nitrate in the body is harmful can lead to extremely low blood pressure.

Digestive Upset

Eating beetroot can come with uncomfortable digestive symptoms. It can present with bloating, diarrhea, and even cramping. This is possibly due to your digestive system being sensitive to FODMAPS (fermentable oligo-, di, monosaccharides, and polyols) present in the vegetable.

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Causes Of Beet Poisoning

The first time you see red or pink discoloration in your urine can be frightening. But it’s vital to bear in mind that beet poisoning is a harmless condition. Beets contain a compound called betanin which gives it its red pigment. This pigment is not easily broken down by the body in some people.

After digesting beets, betanin travels through the body to the kidneys, which filter the substance out. This results in the discoloration of the urine. While beeturia is not a cause for concern, it can act as an indicator for other underlying health problems.

Iron Deficiency 

Beetroot poisoning is often a symptom of an iron deficiency. Iron deficiency occurs when your blood doesn’t have enough red blood cells to transport oxygen to parts of the body.

Low Stomach Acid

Beeturia can also occur in people with reduced levels of stomach acid. An optimal amount of stomach acid is essential to the absorption of vital nutrients from food. 

Due to low stomach acid levels, the body may find it hard to properly metabolize the red pigment in beetroot. This leads to beetroots poisoning.

Diagnosing Beet Poisoning

Even if you think your red or pink-colored urine is caused by bacteria, it is essential to consult your physician if the discoloration happens often. Discolored urine or stool could be caused by a variety of other conditions. To rule out the possibilities of other more concerning health problems, your doctor needs to conduct some tests.

Full Blood Count

This test determines the amount of red blood cells in your body. This way, your doctor can determine whether or not you’re anemic.

Urinalysis

This test checks kidney function and examines for traces of blood and bacteria in the urine.

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Stool Analysis

This test is done to examine the stool and rule out blood in the stool

Heidelberg Test

This test checks the level of stomach acid.

If all these tests come back standard, your doctor can correctly diagnose beetroot poisoning.

Treatment For Beetroot Poisoning

Beeturia is harmless, so there is no treatment. However, an underlying condition contributing to beetroot poisonings, such as low stomach acid levels or anemia, would have to be treated to cure beeturia.

However, for other conditions caused by beet poisoning, it is advisable to avoid the vegetable or consume it in small amounts.

Who Should Not Eat Beetroot

People Prone to Low Blood Pressure

Due to the high level of nitrates present in beetroot, people who battle with low blood pressure should avoid this vegetable. The nitric oxide it produces has a relaxing effect on the blood vessels. This triggers the dilation of the blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure.

People who have Kidney Stones

The high level of oxalates in beetroot can aggravate your kidney stones if you consume them. It can also be harmful to people who are prone to kidney stones.

People Suffering from Diabetes

The fiber in beetroot juice gets broken down and contributes significantly to the glycemic load. This can be very detrimental to diabetic patients. It is advised to avoid beetroot or take it in minimal amounts.

Bottom Line

Beet poisoning can be scary, but it is not a cause for concern. Consult your doctor if you notice urine discoloration after consuming beets. Or if you can’t tell if the reddish tinge is blood or not. You must also let your doctor know if the beeturia presents with other symptoms that may indicate other health issues.

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