Have you gone to the bathroom to urinate and the color you saw scared you? When the color of urine is red we can suspect that we have a urine infection, even if this color is something more pink. But if it appears after eating purple food, then it may be beeturia.
After eating beets or other foods with a similar color, such as blueberries or blackberries, the urine may have a red or pink color. This phenomenon has been observed, after several studies, in 14% of people, although it is rare.
The reasons why consuming beets, blueberries, blackberries or other foods that have pigments of this color cause the urine to have a red or pink color is in the betalain. This is the quintessential red pigment in beets and the cause of the urine color change.
Occasionally, the consumption of beet can also color the stool, although this is less frequent. The reason for this is that betalain is excreted through urine and feces. Therefore, if it appears in the urine, it is possible that it is also present in the beets when going to the toilet.
According to a study reported in the NCBI, “beeturia has not been extensively studied, as it appears to be benign”. It is just a normal reaction, an elimination of the pigment that occurs naturally in certain foods such as beets or blueberries.
However, it is clear that in the presence of a red or pink coloration in the urine, it is advisable to have a urine culture to be sure that this is not a symptom of a urinary tract infection. Let us remember that an unresolved infection can affect the kidneys (pyelonephritis).
Some people are more predisposed to beeturia. The aforementioned study reported in the NCBI states that “those who are iron deficient or suffer from malabsorption diseases” tend to show a red or pink coloration in their urine more frequently after consumption of foods such as beets. Because betalain is not well absorbed, it appears in the urine.
In other cases, a person who does not have malabsorption may also have beeturia. However, since not much research has been done on this phenomenon, not much more is known. For the time being, experts do not attach much importance to this.
However, now that we know that beeturia may be related to malabsorption of food, it may be interesting to go to the doctor to determine what is causing this. Beeturia can even be mistaken for a urinary tract infection. So seeing a doctor is important.