To sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE.

Summertime in general is a feast for nutritious eating with fresh fruit and veggies so readily available. But how well does your own body process it? Is your digestive system absorbing the nutrients in a timely way? You can buy charcoal strips that are sold at health food stores and Amazon to test the speed of how food moves through your digestive tract, (called “transit time”) but in my mind you just can’t beat a beet! Yes, a good old beet may provide some very important personal information.

Before we talk about the actual test, you also can’t beat a beet in terms of nutrition. Some experts consider beets (including both the dark purple red root and the greens) to be among the world’s healthiest food providing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support. Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains and belong to a family of called “chenopods” which also includes chard, spinach and quinoa. There are many delicious ways to enjoy beets, which I personally love, and and hope you’ll enjoy the recipe I’ve provided below soon if you’re not acquainted with this gem from nature.

The Eat a Beet Test:

For the digestion test all you need is to eat one beet! Raw is best (just grate it and think of it like shredded cabbage) but you can roast, steam or bake, whatever. Just so that it’s not pickled, processed, or super soft. (Note: Overcooking/steaming quickly depletes vitamins from these babies, so keep an eye on the timer, and cook un til just barely tender.)

Since testing how your digestive system is functioning might not sound like much fun, how about adding the beat of a happy tune? I came up with “Ease On Down” from the old Broadway musical “The Wiz” You can hum “Ease on down, ease on down, ease on down the ro-oad …” as you eat your beet then wait to see how well it eases on down your own digestive road!

Now just keep an eye on the potty, and you’ll have an excellent indication of how your food is being processed and if you’re really constipated. 

Holistic nutritionist Joy McCarthy says that “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 stool 24 hours or more after consuming the beet means you’ve got a “slow transit time” also known as constipation.

That food is sitting in your gut for that many days,” said McCarthy, who suggested increasing the fiber 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 fiber, 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 not consuming enough water. Their intestines just get very dehydrated and food just doesn’t move through effectively.”

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. (Note from Carolyn: another Word of Wisdom blessing! who knew that drinking coffee could be a deterrent to digestive health???)

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 another beet recipe, check out McCarthy’s book here  it looks amazing!).

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 fiber—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 Ward potty, er, party.

To read this article by Erika Tucker online, CLICK HERE


Yield: 4 servings Time: 20 minutes

1 to 1 1/2 pounds beets, preferably small
2 large shallots
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or to taste
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons sherry or other good strong vinegar
1 sprig fresh tarragon, minced, if available
1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves

  1. Peel the beets and shallots. Combine them in a food processor and pulse carefully until the beets are shredded; do not purée. (Or grate the beets by hand and mince the shallots, then combine.) Scrape into a bowl.
  2. Toss with the salt, pepper, mustard, oil and vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Toss in the herbs and serve.

Raw Beet Salad with Cabbage and Orange. Quite nice-looking: Use equal parts beet and cabbage, about 8 ounces of each. Shred the beets (with the shallot) as directed; shred the cabbage by hand or by using the slicing disk of the food processor. Add 1 navel orange (including its juice), peeled and roughly chopped.

Raw Beet Salad with Carrot and Ginger. Ginger and beets are killer together: Use equal parts beet and carrot, about 8 ounces of each. Treat the carrots as you do the beets (you can process them together), adding about a tablespoon of minced peeled ginger to the mix; omit the tarragon. Substitute peanut for olive oil, lime juice for sherry vinegar, and cilantro for parsley.

Raw Beet Salad with Yogurt Dressing. Creamy: Replace the olive oil and one of the tablespoons of vinegar with 2 tablespoons plain yogurt, preferably whole-milk or low-fat.

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available HERE. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She and her husband Bob are the parents of five children and grandparents of ten. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson Tennessee, close to Memphis where they center their online business and Carolyn serves in the Primary Presidency.