Do The Beet Test: How to Tell if You Have Low Stomach Acid & Weak Digestion

low stomach acid Do The Beet Test:
How to Tell if You Have Low Stomach Acid & Weak Digestion

~ by Heather Gardner

I’m sure you’ve been there. The moment when, in fright and fear, sure that you have some ghastly ailment; you reach for the phone in panic to dial the doc and announce that you have……pink pee!! Until, with a sigh of relief, you remember that you drank a virtuous vegetable juice or had eaten a salad containing beetroot.

That was me last week. At a festival for the weekend, I propped up the juice bar all morning, engrossed in a great raw nutrition book. I was slurping away on their joyous juices and several slipped down the hatch with blood building beetroot satisfaction. A few hours later the above “pink tinged pee” panic set in. Luckily I knew what it meant and took the opportunity to assess the health of my guts and decide to do a digestion detox. I knew it was time to make a crock of kimchi, stop going bananas with fruit, pile on the probiotics and dig out the digestive enzymes.

The Beetroot Test for Low Stomach Acid

Beet Test for Low Stomach Acid and Weak DigestionThis discolouration of the urine, to red or pink, after eating beets is called beeturia. It’s caused by the betalain pigments in the beets, breaking down and being excreted. The stomach acid and the flora of the gut play an important role in breaking down the pigments in food, so if they are low or compromised you may experience beeturia. Often people eat or drink beetroots on purpose in order to test their digestive health.

When you are low in stomach acid, your body is not able to metabolize and assimilate beetroot pigments properly. Chances are the same thing is happening for a lot of other foods you are eating. Being able to digest and absorb the vitamins and minerals in your food is very important for your health. If we can’t absorb our B12, we get tired. A lack of zinc will affect our immune system and thousands of the body’s processes. The partial digestion of proteins can cause havoc in the system, as they get absorbed in large portions into the bloodstream. Other factors involved may include an imbalance of the gut flora, the liver, and iron or B12 deficiencies.

Symptoms of Low Stomach Acid:

  • Healthy Stomach and Digestion

    Gain weight easily

  • Suffer from reflux,
    indigestion or gas
  • Have skin issues
  • Prone to asthma
    and allergies
  • Feeling tired / lethargic

Investigating the Solutions

  • Add warming spices to your diet.Use a good probiotic supplement and digestive enzyme; these are readily available at health stores.
  • Eat raw foods to up your enzyme intake.
  • Add warming spices to your diet, such as cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cumin, coriander, chilli & fennel seed to help kick start the digestive fire.
  • A small cup of miso soup will aid the digestion before meals. Try to look for soya-free unpasteurized miso. Mix a teaspoon into warm, not boiled water with a pinch of ginger, and drink a small cup before meals.
  • A tablespoon of lemon juice or raw apple cider vinegar in warm water, 15 mins before a meal will help raise the stomach PH for better digestion.
  • Make sure you are getting enough water.Make sure you are getting enough water. Drink it between meals and not with food. Drink your water warm or at room temp and with a squeeze of lemon.
  • Include soaked linseeds in your morning routine, just soak a teaspoon in a small cup of water overnight and drink in the morning. This will soothe and rehydrate your digestive system.
  • Remove for a time, cooling, dampening foods such as excess fruits, bananas, frozen or refrigerated food. You can warm your food up slightly first and serve on a warm plate.
  • Learn how to ferment your own vegetables, as these aid the digestion and repopulate the gut with beneficial probiotics. Other gut health happiness fermentations to try include kefir and kombucha.
  • A tablespoon of coconut oil daily helps to kill bad bacteria and candida in the gut. It’s not fattening, so don’t let that put you off, in fact it has the opposite effect.
  • Add lemon juice to your water.Use raw, local, unprocessed honey, this helps to repopulate the gut with good bacteria and deter the bad guys, don’t use if you have sugar balance or candida issues.
  • Have green smoothies and juices everyday as well as nettle tea, and seaweed in your meals. The nutrition in these will absorb easily and nourish the body with what it needs.

Important note:

If you see red urine and you haven’t had any beetroot or red/purple coloured foods, you need to see your GP.

About Heather Gardner

Heather GardnerHeather is a Raw Food and Kundalini Yoga Teacher. A lifelong 3rd generation vegetarian she began learning about herbs and wild foods at a young age from her herbalist mother while growing up on a remote mountainside in Ireland. Due to numerous health challenges at a young age, she began delving into the world of foraging, potion making, herbs, nutrition, and raw & living foods as a teenager searching for solutions. At 20 while studying Natural Nutrition she began learning and experimenting with the Raw Lifestyle, and at 27 she began to move onto a raw diet and has transitioned to a balanced high raw diet over time. She is qualified in many healing modalities and has over 10 years experience as a Natural Remedies, Health & Beauty manager and Brand manager within the UK Natural Products industry, working to help people to achieve better health naturally. Now she lives in the west of Ireland, devising raw recipes, making beauty potions, foraging, writing, teaching and running her business as well as running after her feisty little toddler!  Connect with Heather on Facebook here.


  1. Ten says

    I have often wondered if this was a good or bad thing.

    I actually made a beautiful beet salad for dinner Monday night and today is wednesday and I still have slight pink pee.

    I do mostly everything you mentioned. I drink 2 litres of water a day plus the liquid in my green smoothies which I have every day.

    I have apple cider vinegar in those 2 litres of water.

    My diet is about %90 raw.

    I have ginger most days either in my smoothie or my sauces.

    So Im very frustrated to find out I might have low stomach acid. All this hard work at eating healthy I want to get the benefits. Thanks for posting this.

    I dont take porbiotics. I have never seen the need to. Maybe I need to now.


    Reply by Heather Gardner on June 1st, 2012

    The best thing to do is not too panic! This is a guide and there are no hard and fast rules with all our diferent bodies. Ive been eating healthy most of my life but I have inherintly low stomach acid, in my case its a strange thing connected to people who have or are prone to allergies and asthma (I got this info from the work of Dr Micheal Murray). In ayurvedic and chinese schools of thought they would say that eating raw can cool off the digestive fire, so having warming things like i mentioned helps. I hope you keep up your healthy diet and dont worry too much about it :) x


  2. Brooke says

    OMG! I had that pink/red pee panic a couple weeks ago…lol. I was so worried when I went to flush the toilet, but then I remembered that I ate beets the night before. It’s really interesting to know that the pigment coming out through the urine is a symptom of poor digestion. Thanks for this tip! Just another reason to eat more beets…..they keep you healthy and tell you when you aren’t :-)


    Reply by Heather Gardner on June 1st, 2012

    thats it, its just interesting to know, its not a prescription jsut how your body is doing in that moment, and how we can give it a little suport sometimes :)


  3. kelli says

    hi- how can u get “soya-free” miso when miso us fermented soy bean paste?


    Reply by Suzanne on May 30th, 2012

    Miso can also be made with rice, adzuki beans etc. Avoid the soy!


    Reply by Heather Gardner on June 1st, 2012

    I buy Field bean miso, and i know you can get chickpea miso ~ just have a scout around your area :) If your happy to eat soy then thats fine but, its not such a good thing as its mostly GMO and hormone distrupting :)


  4. says

    wow, this is amazing! I’d noticed that usually beetroot shows up in my urine, but sometimes not. I assumed its appearance meant I had no need for the nutrients, but now I know the reverse is true, and will take pink pee as a sign to up the probiotics and reduce the fruit sugar. Thanks


    Reply by Heather Gardner on July 2nd, 2012

    Ive also read the following in an email send to me, so I thought it might be useful to someone here

    “Eat beets. If they turn your urine pink/red, then you have low stomach acid. Stomach acid is a very important first step in digestion. Without enough, you can’t absorb B12, and you have trouble absorbing zinc as well as several other nutrients. If you don’t have adequate stomach acid, proteins aren’t broken down properly, and so they can cause trouble in the small intestine and/or get absorbed whole into the bloodstream.

    Gluten and casein are famous for being addictive because they form opiod-like substances. Stomach acid is necessary to prevent them from becoming opiods.

    Histamine helps trigger the release of stomach acid. Histamine is found in several foods, especially ferments, so pile on another reason to eat ferments with every meal. Adequate zinc is also necessary to produce stomach acid (remember what’s not absorbed well without it?)”.


  5. Tamara says

    How come the beetroot tests shows I have low stomach acid while a clinical test shows the opposite?
    I am really confused


  6. says

    You don’t mention how much beets? I tend to eat a ton of them when I make them. And I’ve never heard of anyone eating beets and their pee NOT turning pink. Can you help me understand from what resources it is indicated as a sign of low stomach acid and what quantity of beet consumption you are talking about. Thank you.


  7. Cathy says

    I have recently had a run in with giardia and candida, it total 8.5 months of stomach trouble. I’m now candida and parasite free but I can’t seem to get my energy back. The food feels like it sits in my stomach forever, I get heaps of wind and egg tasting burps plus I always feel bloated. I’m low in magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, vit D (to only mention a few) and I have excessively low cholesterol. I’ve been breasting feeding my 9.5 month the whole way through my sickness but now I’m not sure whether to give up breast feeding or whether the parasite and candida could have caused or contributed to low stomach acid.


    Reply by Heather on October 8th, 2012

    I would say to keep breastfeeding that baba if you can, but to start really looking after yourself. Try using slippery elm mixed in a little water before meals to soothe your tummy. Alos try nettle infusions (3oz herb to 1 quart boiling water and steeped overnight) to help your mineral levels. It may be good to up your healthy omega 3 oils a bit, so flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin. I would suggest that you have a look in your area for a naturopathic nutritionalist or great herbalist or other healthcare provider who may be able to help you. We run a great course here, helping to deal with digestive and parasite issues, the programme coach has also just had a baby, here are the details – I also encourage you to reach out to a like minded community at the Raw Mom club – I hope this helps and you feel better soon xxx


  8. MomLadyOR says

    Does it mean anything if your bm color is dark purple after eating beets? Or is that just normal? Didn’t notice any difference in pee, but bm next morning was very dark. Thanks for your article!!


    Reply by Heather on October 9th, 2012

    I’m not 100% sure, I would guess it is the same thing to a degree, so also normal to a degree. The stronger our digestion is the more able it would be to process the pigments. The best thing to do not not see this as a absolute sign of digestion but more like a simple quide. I see the difference as I eat beetroot pretty much everyday and on ocaision when Im a little run down or stressed I see the colour come through, not on a daily basis though, so know your body and see this as a tool to know it a little better xxx


  9. C. Lee says

    A tablespoon of lemon juice or cyder vinegar in warm water, 15 mins before a meal will help raise the stomach PH for better digestion.

    should have been ‘–help lower the stomach pH –‘


  10. lisa says

    Hi there, thanks so much for the article Heather! I have this problem I notice that my pee/bowel movements turn out bright red! I was just wondering what enzyme supplements or probiotics you use? I’ve used probiotics before but didnt’ notice a big difference. Never tried digestive enzymes though. I’ve always been tired and needed more sleep than normal and had digestive problems/allergies as well. I used to have severe stomach bloating in response to salads as well although now that I’ve cut down on raw food it’s gotten better.


    Reply by Shannon on November 20th, 2012

    Lisa, the salad problem is what got me really worried and sought out a “fix” and found GAPS Diet! I know for myself all signs pointed to gut “dysbiosis” of the flora and substantiated by family history.


  11. Shannon says

    Thank you! This is the best resource I have found to explain natural remedies to low stomach acid. I certainly do not pass the beet test – comes out same color it goes in! I am a lifelong “healthy eater” but have been several months gluten free. I hear that can impact stomach acid levels. I am one week on a strict GAPS diet for various persistent health problems and am afraid to use “unnatural” stomach acid boosters. I believe the cider vinegar is “GAPS legal” and suspected that all the water I felt like I must drink while eating was likely working against me. Thanks for the validation and the natural remedy suggestions. THANK YOU SO MUCH!


  12. Heather says

    If we can’t absorb vitamin B12, we don’t just get “tired,” we die! There is an autoimmune disease called pernicious anemia whereby the body’s intrinsic factor cannot absorb B12. Supplementation has to be given monthly, or if the person goes long enough without B12, nerve damage and eventually death occurs. Other things can destroy the mechanism as well, like chemo or taking Accutane. I know this because my sister and I have pernicious anemia, due to it running in our family. It’s a rare disease. If doctors have led you to believe that low B12 only makes you tired, they need to do some research because you’re risking your life with being low.


  13. Lety says

    Very interesting article! I recently had my own pink urine scare which prompted me to do some googling. I’ve always thought I had digestive problems because I gain weight very easily, can’t seem to get rid of my acne and because I have poor bowel movements. Can’t wait to try out your tips to see if they work for me! Thanks!


  14. Irene says

    Hi! I really enjoyed reading your tips here. I just discovered raw beets today, even tho I enjoy pickled beets…however raw beets have won me over.
    I have a comment to make about one of your points above. It’s regarding adding a squeeze of lemon to water. Lemon juice is acidic, but magically turns basic in the stomach, so I’m thinking if we are trying to increase the acidity of our gastric juices, lemon juice is going to hinder instead of help. Lemons are the strongest citrus fruit to do this… Thanks for all the info! Take care, Irene :)


  15. Michelle says

    O I am so thankful to have your article. So many times I find one that has a bit of good info and the rest is typical misconceptions. You are spot on with everything! This makes perfect sense…I have just been blood tested and found to be low in iron, B12, and D even though I eat organic fresh meats, spinach, herbs, kefir, you name it…I have really been having stomache issues recently and can’t seem to “go” and continue to hold on to everything. I can feel my stomach swell and it’s miserable! Just today my pee looked like blood after eating beets only a few hours ago. I am going to start a detox/cleanse with psyllium, flax, chia, and bentonite clay and then do an herbal parasite cleanse. Any thoughts? Thank you so much for all your hard work and replys!


  16. Kirstin says

    Hi Heather, I thought I would give you another cause of low stomach acid, that a lot of people son’t know about – low intrinsic factor. Here is a wiki link that explains it:

    Long story short, when the intrinsic factor is low, so is the stomach acid in most cases, no matter many digestive enzymes or HCL you take. I was just tested for this last week and am awaiting the results, after suffering for years with horrible reflux, digestive problems, gas and bloating, being unable to lose weight, fatigue, muscle and joint pain and magnesium deficiencies and a host of other problems. I almost hope I have it, since it can be treated and hopefully reverse my chronic stomach problems. Hope this helps.


  17. Heather says

    For what it’s worth, lemon juice or cider vinegar will *lower*, not raise, the stomach pH. I think you intended to say “increase the acidity” but as written, this point is scientifically inaccurate.


  18. Reagan says

    Hi, I do 90% of what you’ve posted here and today was the first day I’ve had pink pee! I have wanted to take a probiotic for sometime now but I do not know what is safe to use while breastfeeding, or even how to choose a probiotic! There are millions whenever I go to buy one and I end up getting overwhelmed and leaving. Can you recommended a safe one (if not all are safe) to use while breast feeding? Thank you in advanced, health and happiness to you – Reagan


  19. stephen smik says

    I appreciated the information about the beet juice testing. I am 87 and having a lot of gas regardless what I eat. My gastroenterologist has me on anacids. I’m confused as what to do. I am loosing muscle mass and weight. I am taking BOOST products daily.


    Reply by Marcia Martin on May 18th, 2014

    Do like i did Stephen..Try what Heather said with vinegar or lemon..i do a tablespoon of vinegar in a glass of water.No more indigestion or gas..


  20. Rob H says

    Apparently, from research about the “blood type diet” I have found an article saying that people with blood type A (+ or -) are most prone to low stomach acid, and they should consider being vegetarian as digesting meat requires a fair amount of stomach acid,


  21. says

    Thanks Ms Heather Gardner,

    for interesting info on Beeturia…i (male 46) experience it off late. What worries me is, i excrete the colour within an hour or at the most two hours. I wonder…how quickly it gets absorbed runs through the bloodstream gets filtered through and excreted. Is such rapid removal healthy…?
    Pl comment.
    with regards,


  22. Sid says

    I have cold hands on a continual basis. I do feel lethargic at times and sleep is difficult unless I take a variety of sleep meds. I do sffer from occasional acid reflux but taking alkaline foods will help to alleviate it. I am trying to consume more raw foods. I have a Vita-Mix blender. Can I blend raw beets & daikon? One time I prepared very lightly cooked beets, ate them and then I had a tremendously upset stomach for weeks thereafter.


  23. Marcia Martin says

    Thanks for.the great article…you were right..I got my husband on Kiefer a good prebiotic drink and he has no more pink pee..thanks again.



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