C-Print (180 x 60 cm), Wooden box with Urine samples
The phenomenon of red urine after eating beetroot was first documented in 1919, when scientists observed some healthy children
had a red pigmentation in the urine, whereas others did not have this
symptom. In 1924 another group studied the urine of 30 children after eating beetroot. They tried to repeat the result but succeeded in only 8 out of 15 cases. Others experimented with the acidity of the urine. Later on, in 1956, families were tested, which led to thoughts that this phenomenon is hereditary, even though there where some exceptions.
An association was also noted between allergy and beeturia and the dysfunction of the permeability of the kidneys, but further investigations with different kinds of illnesses did not show a significant association between a certain dysfunction in metabolic performance and beeturia. Another group of scientists investigated healthy people and people with different kinds of anaemia and iron deficiencies. They discovered that beeturia is more likely to occur at a time of ‘iron hunger’ and that there could be competition between iron and betanin for the acceptor substance. Thus, the absorption of non-heme iron from popular Western lunch and dinner meals became an interesting basis for an intervention, given the well-known fact that the absorption of non-heme iron varies more than 7-fold. The scientists had figured out that the absorption percentage was highest in meals with sauerkraut and sausage, and with borscht soup with meat. I discovered a paper that was written in 1967 by a group of scientists
from the Medical University of Erlangen. There they developed a sensitive column chromatographic procedure to detect betanin in urine. 58 out of 60 healthy people had betanin in the urine after eating beetroot, sometimes only a very small amount. Many of the urine samples did not present a rose pink colour even though they had measurable
concentrations of betanin – it was too low to affect the colour of the urine.
They stated that the classification into betanin ‘excretors’ and ‘nonexcretors’ is false.
Based on the study of this yet-to-be solved phenomenon, I conducted a self-experiment over five weeks and documented my personal picture of the excretion of betanin. All the interventions I made had no significant effect.