Beet juice has become a popular health drink in recent years, often promoted for benefits like lowering blood pressure and increasing endurance. Some people also claim that drinking beet juice helps “clean you out” by promoting digestion and detoxification. But is there any truth to this? Let’s take a closer look at what the science says.
How beets support digestion
Beets are packed with fiber, containing 2-3 grams per cooked cup. This fiber is partly soluble and partly insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves into a gel-like consistency and helps feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool and helps food pass more quickly through your digestive tract (1).
Together, the fiber content in beets supports regular bowel movements and healthy digestion. Increased fiber intake is associated with reduced constipation and less straining, which may give the sensation of being “cleaned out” (2).
Beet juice and detoxification
Some advocates claim that beet juice supports detoxification – the process of eliminating waste and toxins from your body. This is attributed to betalains, the pigments that give beets their deep red color.
However, there is limited evidence that betalains bind to heavy metals and escort them out of the body. Human studies are lacking.
Some research shows that betanin, one type of betalain, may limit the oxidation (damage) caused by some toxins. This antioxidant activity occurs in test tubes, with effects in humans still unclear (3).
Overall, there is little scientific support behind the idea that beet juice specifically stimulates detoxification pathways or binds to toxins in your body.
Other possible digestive benefits
A few other aspects of beet juice may contribute to its digestion and detoxification reputation:
– Liver protection: Animal studies show beetroot juice may reduce fat deposits and inflammation in the liver. This helps maintain normal liver detoxification ability (4).
– Anti-inflammatory: Beets provide anti-inflammatory compounds like betaine. Reducing inflammation in the gut may improve digestion (5).
– Nitrates: Beets are very high in nitrates. Nitrates are converted to nitric oxide, which relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract (6).
So while beets support healthy digestion through fiber, they may provide additional benefits by protecting liver function, decreasing inflammation, and relaxing smooth muscle. However, human research is still emerging in these areas.
Potential downsides of beet juice
Beet juice may cause digestion-related side effects in some people, including:
– Bloating and gas from high fiber intake
– Red or pink stools – harmless but alarming side effect of betalains
– Sugar spikes – beets have 5-10 grams natural sugars per cup
– Upset stomach – some notice nausea or cramping from beet juice
These effects appear to be more common when consuming large amounts of beet juice. Moderation is key.
Putting it all together
|– Increased fiber supports healthy bowel movements||– May cause bloating or gas|
|– Nitrates relax smooth muscle in digestive tract||– Natural sugars may cause spikes in some|
|– Anti-inflammatory compounds improve gut health||– Pink/red stools can seem alarming|
|– Antioxidant activity may limit some toxin damage||– Upset stomach if consuming too much|
When it comes to “cleaning you out,” beets do seem to promote healthy digestion and bowel regularity. This is likely due to their fiber and antioxidant content.
However, evidence is lacking to support detoxification claims. And some people may experience unpleasant side effects.
Moderating your intake and slowly increasing fiber from beets seems to be the best way minimize digestion issues. Overall, beets can be a healthy addition to your diet, just don’t expect miracles in the detox department.
Tips for integrating beets into your diet
If you want to try harnessing the digestion and detox potential of beets, here are some tips:
– Start with a small 4-6 oz serving of beet juice and assess tolerance
– Slowly increase high-fiber foods over 2-3 weeks to allow gut bacteria to adjust
– Include fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, or kefir which support healthy gut bacteria
– Drink beet juice diluted with water or combined with low-fiber ingredients like apples or carrots
– Have beet juice an hour before or after taking medications or supplements since the compounds may interact
– Consider light cooking methods like roasting or steaming beets to maintain antioxidant levels
The bottom line
Research shows that beets and beet juice can promote healthy digestion, likely due to their fiber content and anti-inflammatory effects. However, evidence that beet juice “cleans you out” through detoxification is currently lacking.
Beet juice may even cause unpleasant side effects in some people when consumed in excess. Moderating your intake and slowly integrating beets into your diet seems to be the best way to take advantage of their benefits while avoiding problems.
Overall, beets can be a nutritious addition to your diet and may assist with digestion. But they aren’t necessarily a magic detox elixir on their own. Pay attention to how you feel after drinking beet juice and adjust your intake accordingly.