There is no denying that the popularity of beet juice has skyrocketed in recent years. People have been singing praises about its health benefits left right and center, what it does to the overall body and wellbeing of the soul.
With that said, more and more queries have been raised recently as to whether or not beet juice is actually bad for the kidneys.
The short answer to that is – up till now, there is no clear answer.
Beet Juice and Your Kidneys
You see, while the health benefits of beet juice had been widely reported in the news, there had been sayings that they could be bad for your kidneys too. The debate is ongoing, and reports on how it may affect the kidney function have been conflicting to say the least.
It is therefore no surprise that people continue to wonder if this well-known superfood can harm the kidneys. According to a new research from the University of California Davis though, is that it seems unlikely to do so.
Putting it shortly, the study indicates that beet juice does not have a detectable effect on the kidney’s filtration process, and therefore should be safe to consume.
“We’re very excited by these findings,” said Dr. Jeffery Stout, lead researcher of the study and Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine at UC Davis. “This will be good news for athletes who want to take full advantage of beet juice’s benefits.”
It is worthy to note that beet juice and orange juice are found to not have the same effect on the kidney’s filtration process. So, one cannot assume the two to have gone through the body system the same way.
The same research shows that beet juice consumption does more than just benefit your heart and liver health, and that’s something always good to know about.
Ingredients in Beets That May Cause Complications if Consumed in Large Quantities
Having said that, it is important to note that the study only shows that beet juice does not affect the kidney’s filtration process. It does not show whether or not consuming large amounts of this nitrate-rich food will be harmful in other ways.
You see, the amount of nitrates found in beets is actually quite high. Nitrates are a form of substance naturally found in leafy green vegetables and food that have been processed with pesticides. It is something experts recommend avoiding as much as possible, unless you cannot find organic produce or if the cost is prohibitive.
Due to the high levels of nitrates in beets, it is recommended that you do not consume more than 500g (18 ounces) per day. This high amount may cause complications including methemoglobinemia (blue baby syndrome), toxicity, stomach irritation and gastrointestinal issues.
With that said, even if one is not armed with such knowledge, it is still pretty unlikely that beet juice will be consumed in such large amounts to that it causes the aforementioned potential complications.
And given the study has shown that beet juice does not have a significant effect on kidney cells, it is unlikely that its high nitrate content will do harm to your kidneys.
How to Make the Most of Beet Juice’s Health Benefits Without Harming Your Kidneys
Portion control is therefore very important when it comes to drinking beet juice. As with everything else, moderation is key. Even if beet juice has many health benefits, experts urge against consuming too much of it due to the potential health complications that can be caused by nitrates as mentioned above.
So while beet juice’s position on the “safe food” list is not yet clear at this stage, it seems that there are few reasons to worry about drinking this healthy beverage if consumed in moderation.
The Health Benefits of Beet Juice
With all that said, here’s a little bit of reinforcement regarding the health benefits of beet juice.
Given a lot of them have been commonly reported in the media, we won’t go too much into the details here. However, some notable ones worth mentioning is that beet juice increases endurance during physical activity, and decreases blood pressure by opening up the blood vessels to allow better blood flow.
In particular, its role in lowering the LDL cholesterol is eye-opening.
Beet Juice Can Also Help To Lower LDL Cholesterol
In addition to the positive effects that beet juice has on the cardiovascular system, its consumption may potentially decrease the development of diabetic-related kidney disease and other conditions associated with increased oxidative stress.
Beetroot also has a high nitrate content which is converted into compounds called nitrites and eventually nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is known to dilate blood vessels, lower blood pressure and increase endurance performance.
Researchers in this study took human kidney cells which they treated with either nitrate or oxygen (the control), and then subjected them to oxidative stress created by hydrogen peroxide which caused free radical damage to the cells. The mitochondria in these damaged cells were measured for their ability to function properly.
The results showed that the kidney cells with nitrate were better able to survive the presence of oxidative stress compared to the control group. Furthermore, when these cells were treated with hydrogen peroxide, less cellular damage occurred in those that had been pretreated with nitrates.
“These experiments show for the first time that nitrate supplementation may reduce oxidant-mediated damage to the kidney by increasing the amount of nitric oxide in these cells, thereby mitigating oxidative stress,” Stout said.
“Nitrate appears to act as an electron donor and has been shown to improve mitochondrial function,” he concluded. “This finding provides a molecular mechanism that could explain some of beet juice’s athletic performance benefits, and it also suggests a possible new strategy to protect kidney cells from oxidant-mediated damage.”
The results of this study have been published in the Journal of Physiology. The research has been funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Unilever Home and Personal Care, American Heart Association, and UC Davis.
Final Thoughts On The Benefits of Beet Juice For People With Kidney Disease
While the results of this research provide evidence that beet juice is unlikely to have an effect on your kidneys, it does not indicate that you should drink it excessively.
Safe to say that more studies need to be conducted on the topic, before we can say for sure whether or not drinking beet juice is bad for your kidneys.
Moderation is key when consuming any food or beverage, so be mindful of how much you are drinking and its possible effects. If you have concerns about what beet juice may do to your kidneys, please consult your physician.