Get SUM facts: STD/STI, or… beets?

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So your pee usually comes out yellow(ish) and your stool comes out brown(ish), but there is one color we just do not want to see in either of them–red.  Passing red can certainly be worrisome, making you think about hematuria, internal bleeding, a UTI, or some STD/STI.

But this may actually not be anything serious.  In fact, this may just be something you ate: Beets.

beets

Beets are very nutritious vegetables, full of folate, manganese, potassium, and antioxidants that help strengthen your immune system. [1]

In addition, beet roots contain a chemical called betacyanin, or the red beetroot pigment, which some people cannot biologically breakdown.  The betacynanin would then pass in your urine (also known as “beeturia”) or in your stool, giving it a red/pink coloring which can easily be mistaken as blood but is not known to be harmful.  Research has not shown any strong correlation between breaking down the pigment and hereditary genes, and much is still to be understood about various factors, such as stomach acid levels, that could influence betacyanin metabolism [2, 3].

So if you see red next time you relieve yourself, it may not be a sign of an STD/STI or internal bleeding, but rather just your body getting rid of that betacyanin from beets.  Phew!

Please note: This article is by no means a substitute for medical advice.  You should always contact a health professional if you are uncertain about your condition, and consumption of beets may not be the actual cause of your condition.  If you experience pain in urinating or in passing a stool, or if the color continues to persist after having stopped eating beets, you should contact your doctor immediately.
[1] The Effect of Beets on Bowels by Aglaee Jacob, Livestrong.com
[2] Mitchell, S. C.. Food Idiosyncrasies: Beetroot and Asparagus. 2001
[3] Why isn’t beetroot dye broken down by digestion? The Naked Scientist. 2009.
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