Beets can be a wonderful health promoting food. Beets provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detox support in the body. Today, I want to talk about why that is the case. I often recommend beets to many of my clients, namely clients with obvious liver or gallbladder issues. The reason beets help with liver/gallbladder issues is that they support healthy bile flow.
How Beets Support Healthy Bile
Beets contain betaine and are rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, phosphorous, as well as carotene and B complex. Betaine is a substance that helps to protect the liver and stimulate the flow of bile. Betaine also plays a role in reducing levels of homocysteine in the blood, according to the National Institutes of Health. Homocysteine is a toxic substance in the body that can lead to osteoporosis and heart problems. The betaine is found in the peel and flesh of the beet, but is mainly concentrated in the top of the beet where the leaves connect. Traditionally, beets have been used as a ‘folk remedy’ for liver disorders. Betaine is essential for proper liver function, fat metabolism and to help promote the flow of bile. Betaine can actually help protect the liver from the impact of alcohol on the liver, making beets (or betaine) an excellent support for detoxification.
Healthy Bile & Bile flow
Fats in the diet require adequate bile production from the liver and adequate bile release from the gallbladder to be properly emulsified and digested. What is Bile? Bile is a soap like substance secreted by the liver. Bile salts emulsify the fats from our food. By increasing the surface area of the molecules, lipase (or fat splitting enzymes) digest fats and absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K more efficiently. Bile is made from cholesterol, it sequesters cholesterol and is a main way in which we eliminate cholesterol from our bodies. When our bile acid levels are high, our body stops making more cholesterol. When our bile acids are low our bodies can make up to 15 times more cholesterol. Bile also helps make calcium and iron more absorbable.
Bile is also the fluid into which the liver excretes toxins for removal. After the bile is produced in the liver, it goes to the gallbladder for storage, and eventually heads into the small intestine for removal. Bile is secreted by the gallbladder through hormone messages when we eat a meal containing fats. After the intestines absorb these fats they are then used by the body to build cells, hormones and prostaglandins. This only happens fully if our digestion is working properly.
Toxins are excreted from the liver through bile fluid, when the flow is encouraged and enhanced, the liver can remove those toxins/poisons more effectively. Bile an the toxins it contains, is incorporated into the stool. When the stool does not move through the intestines easily and timely enough, wast products accumulate and clog the bowel. When constipation occurs, bacteria in the intestines split the toxins that are bound up in the bile, in turn causing re-absorption of these already detoxified poisons. A clogged bowel actually irritates the lining of the large intestine, allowing waste products and other toxins to be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. Waste remaining in contact with the intestinal wall for a long period of time can cause chronic inflammation and other serious complications.
Beets are just one of the many foods that can help to support proper healthy bile flow and detoxify the body. I personally love beets and have several recipes for their use. Beets are in season summer through winter. Be sure to purchase organic beets with the tops and use both. Consider taking the very top of the beet where the leaves attach and shredding it up as a slaw to eat daily if possible, especially if you have a sluggish gallbladder.
Beets have a tremendous regenerating effect on the body, and for those recovering from digestive ailments beets help to can be used a digestive aid. It is an excellent tonic for the blood as it alkalizes the blood, promotes regularity, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones. Beet juice or beet kvass is also helpful in healing the gallbladder, or important for those without a gallbladder as it helps to thin out the bile. If the bile is too thick the liver and gallbladder get congested and problems start to occur. The betaine in beets is what aids digestion, as well as helps to promote healthy stomach acid and juices. The nice thing about drinking beet kvass is you get all the nutritive value of the beets without all the sugar content and the added benefit or lactic acid bacteria. Beets are also loaded with minerals, fermenting them only enhances their nutritive properties.
Here are a few beet recipes to try:
- Beet Kvass
- Spiced Apple & Beet Slaw
- Beef & Beet Green Stew
- Roasted Chicken & Root Vegetable Curry
- Mermere’s Beets
- Roasted Beet Salad with Feta and Citrus Vinaigrette
- Roasted Beets
- Beet Salad
- Spiralizer Spaghetti Beets
- Beet Chips
- Spice Pickled Beets