beets is one of the best days to cleanse the digestive tract and blood of built-up contaminants due to a diet and lifestyle that leads to high inflammation. Detoxification in this way combined with the high antioxidant values found in beets is an effective way to help naturally slow aging.
Beets are a great way to help balance pH levels and to alkalize the body as well. The pH scale is used to determine acidity versus alkalinity, with 7.1 to 14 being alkaline and 7 being neutral. Most diseases live in an acidic environment, so your body’s goal is to be slightly alkaline- and many whole foods like fruits and vegetables help to achieve this.
Limiting consumption of low-quality, processed acid-forming foods and eating more alkaline-forming foods like beets and other root vegetables can protect your body from diseases that occur more commonly in people as they age. This is due to their ability to decrease inflammation. Beets are also a great source of fiber, which helps the digestive system to properly function and even supports weight loss, another key area that can be struggle as you get older.
GrainsEating foods made with whole wheat can help you get more betaine in your diet, since both wheat germ and wheat bran are among the better sources of betaine. Wheat germ contains 1,241 milligrams per 100-gram serving, and wheat bran contains 1,339 milligrams. Snack on pretzels, which provide 237 milligrams per 100 grams, and make your sandwiches with whole-wheat bread, which contains 201 milligrams per 100 grams. Dry spaghetti, all-purpose flour and cheese crackers are also good sources of betaine.
VegetablesWhen it comes to vegetables, spinach is your best bet for increasing your betaine levels, since it is particularly high in this nutrient, with 645 milligrams per 100 grams. Beets are another good way to get your betaine, since they contain 297 milligrams per 100-gram serving. Try a side of spinach sauteed with garlic and olive oil, add grated or cooked beets to your salads or start your meal off with borscht, a Russian beet soup.
Animal ProductsIf you aren't a fan of whole grains or greens, try eating more shrimp. It contains more betaine than most other animal-based foods with about 218 milligrams per 100-gram serving. Other types of seafood are also good sources of betaine. Start your meal with a spinach salad with seared scallops, make your main dish a shrimp-and-broccoli stir-fry or cook up a seafood stew for a delicious meal high in betaine. Although meat and poultry aren't particularly good sources of betaine, many Americans get a lot of their betaine from these foods because they eat so much of them, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
ConsiderationsYou don't necessarily have to eat betaine-rich foods to increase your betaine levels, because choline is a precursor to betaine. Eating foods high in choline, like chicken or beef liver, eggs, pork or soybeans, can also improve your betaine levels. Check with your doctor before taking betaine supplements, because these can cause side effects, including diarrhea and nausea and may raise your cholesterol levels. However, you don't have to worry about getting too much betaine from foods.
All you need is about half of a raw beet, and the stomach to glance into your toilet after a successful bowel movement sometime in the near future—hopefully between 12 and 24 hours after you chow down on that beet.
Holistic nutritionist Joy McCarthy said it’s a simple way to “check your transit time.”
“What I mean by that is when you eat a food, how long does it actually take to come out the other end?” explained McCarthy. “This is a good indication of how your food is being processed and if you’re constipated.”
McCarthy said even though a lot of people are “regular,” they’re not eliminating effectively. The beet test allows you to get a sense of whether you fall into that ideal 12-24 hour range, since you’ll be able to see the bright red pigment in your stools.
Fiery red poop 24 hours or more later means you’ve got a “slow transit time,” also known as constipation—a common result of the beet test.
“That food is sitting in your gut for that many days,” said McCarthy, who suggested increasing the fibre in your diet as one solution. Eating chia or flax seeds, more vegetables, pears or berries can combat constipation, but don’t overdo it if you’re not used to it.
“If you’re not someone who eats fibre, then you want to increase these fibrous-rich foods slowly because it can also have the opposite effect,” she said.
Drinking water is another key method to improve your digestion.
“A lot of people have the slow transit time because they’re just not consuming enough water. Their intestines just get very dehydrated and food just doesn’t move through effectively.”
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Less common is if you’re seeing those beets in less than 12 hours. McCarthy said that means you’re not really absorbing all the nutrients from your food. You might be eating too fast and not fully chewing your meals, which will leave you with food particles in your stools.
Or you could have too many stimulants in your daily life, like coffee.
“You have less absorption of nutrients when you consume stimulants because they basically force food through the gut much faster,” she said.
So take your raw or roasted beets—peeled or unpeeled—and eat them as you wish: in bites or grated as a salad topping (for more on the beet method and a beet recipe, check out McCarthy’s book here).
McCarthy warns against using pickled beets from a jar since boiled, over-processed beets don’t have the rich red pigment that will stand out in your lavatory.
Another helpful at-home strategy to promote digestive health is lemon and water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. It won’t do anything weird to your body waste, but McCarthy said it’ll give you a better quality bowel movement. (A BQBM, if you will).
“Lemon helps stimulate the liver’s detoxifying enzymes. And it really helps to stimulate you to have a good bowel movement, because the lemon actually stimulates your gallbladder to produce bile, and bile—along with fibre—is a carrier of toxins.”
McCarthy said she recommends this for clients who have heartburn.
“You think that heartburn is excess acid, but 90 per cent of people who have heartburn actually don’t produce enough acid,” she said. “They’re digesting by fermentation, which as a byproduct causes gaseous substances to push up through the esophagus and cause pain. So lemon and water is really helpful for preventing that.”
Use a quarter to a half of a freshly squeezed lemon in a cup of room temperature water, and drink it on an empty stomach first thing in the morning—for maximal absorption.
And after drinking all the lemon water and eating the beets, you’ll be well on your way to a healthy digestive experience, and loaded up with a helpful tip to share at your next cocktail potty, er, party.