- Drinking beetroot juice before exercise can improve brain function in older adults with high blood pressure, finds a new study.
- Beetroot juice contains nitrates that convert to nitric oxide, which improves exercise performance.
- Combining beetroot juice with exercise supplies more oxygen to the brain and strengthens the somatomotor cortex.
A healthy diet
and regular exercise can have a positive effect on the brain function. A new
study conducted among the elderly found that drinking beetroot
juice before exercising can make the brain perform more efficiently.
A research team at the Wake Forest University conducted an experimental study on older adults with high blood pressure. The research team compared the effect of beetroot juice and exercise in improving the brain function.
Effect of Beetroot Juice and Exercise in Older AdultsThe study group involved 26 men and women aged over 55 years who did not follow a daily exercise regimen. All the participants had high blood pressure and took two anti-hypertensive drugs
For the experimental study, the participants were given beetroot juice supplement three times a week for six weeks. They drank a beetroot juice supplement called Beet-It Sport Shot one hour before exercise. The duration of the exercise was 50 minutes walk on a treadmill. One group received Beet-It containing 560mg of nitrates, and the other group received a placebo Beet-It with low levels of nitrate.
How Beetroot Improves Exercise Performance?Beetroot contains high levels of nitrate, which is converted to nitrite and nitric oxide when consumed. Nitric oxide increases blood flow in the body. Studies have shown that nitric oxide can improve exercise performance in people of various ages.
"Nitric oxide is a 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 W. Jack Rejeski, a study co-author.
The brain's somatomotor cortex, which processes information from the muscles, sorts out the cues coming in from the body during exercise. Thus, exercise strengthens the somatomotor cortex.
The findings of the study suggest that combining beetroot juice with exercise delivers more oxygen to the brain and strengthens the somatomotor cortex.
The levels of nitrate and nitrite in the blood before drinking beetroot juice was similar in both the groups. However, the post-exercise analysis showed that the beetroot juice group had higher levels of nitrate and nitrite than the placebo after exercise.
"We knew, going in, that a number of studies had shown that exercise has positive effects on the brain," said Rejeski. "This is the first study to test the combined effects of exercise and beetroot juice on functional brain networks and secondary connections between the motor cortex and the insula, which support mobility," said Rejeski, Professor, and Director of the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory at the Department of Health & Exercise Science.
The study titled "Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain" is published in the peer-reviewed Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. The research team suggested that what we eat as we age is important for maintaining brain health and functional independence.
- Meredith Petrie, W. Jack Rejeski, Swati Basu, Paul J. Laurienti, Anthony P. Marsh, James L. Norris, Daniel B. Kim-Shapiro, Jonathan H. Burdette. Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain.The Journals of Gerontology (2017). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glw219