Credit: © id-art / Fotolia

Credit: © id-art / Fotolia

Beetroot juice before exercise makes older brains perform younger

Beetroot juice before exercise makes older brains perform younger, according to the latest research from Wake Forest University.

According to the scientists at Wake Forest, drinking beetroot juice before working made aged brains function more efficiently, mirroring a younger brain.

We knew, going in, that a number of studies had shown that exercise has positive effects on the brain,” said W. Jack Rejeski, study co-author. “But what we showed in this brief training study of hypertensive older adults was that, as compared to exercise alone, adding a beet root juice supplement to exercise resulted in brain connectivity that closely resembles what you see in younger adults.”

This is the first study of its kind to examine the effects of beetroot juice combined with exercise in the motor cortex of the brain, and the connections in the brain that help with mobility.

So what makes beets potent for the brain and for exercise?

Beets are rich in dietary nitrate, which is converted to nitrite, and then to nitric oxide when it enters the body. Nitric oxide helps increase blood flow, and studies have shown that it can help with exercise.

Nitric oxide is a really powerful molecule. It goes to the areas of the body which are hypoxic, or needing oxygen, and the brain is a heavy feeder of oxygen in your body,” said Rejeski.

The Wake Forest study is not the first to show the benefits of beets for the brain.

Recent research from the journal Nitric Oxide found that just one dose of beet juice can boost brain function.

Deanna Minich, PhD, founder of Food and Spirit told GreenMedInfo:

One recent study in 40 healthy people showed that they were able to better perform on cognitive tests 90 minutes after drinking 450 mL beetroot juice compared with placebo (apple/blackcurrant juice, which is low in nitrates). What I really like about this study is that brain performance can be improved fairly rapidly in healthy people with a simple activity like drinking beetroot juice (high in dietary nitrates, which leads to more nitric oxide to open up oxygen flow in the brain).”

In simpler terms, the beet juice helped with haemodynamic response (HR), which is a type of response in the brain during task performance. HR rapidly delivers blood to brain tissues. Also, beet nitrates dilate blood vessels, which lead to increases of intake in oxygen and nutrients. This may explain the cognitive effects of beet juice.

The study showing that beetroot juice before exercise makes older brains perform younger was published in The Journals of Gerontology.

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1. “With Beetroot Juice before Exercise, Aging Brains Look ‘younger’.” Wake Forest News. Wake Forest University, 19 Apr. 2017. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
2. “Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain.” The Journals of Gerontology: Series A. Oxford University Press, 09 Nov. 2016. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.
3. “Acute Effect of a High Nitrate Diet on Brain Perfusion in Older Adults.” Nitric Oxide : Biology and Chemistry. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 01 Jan. 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

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