Drink Beetroot Juice Before Exercise for a ‘Younger’ Brain

We have known for a long time that regular exercise boosts brain health and reduces the risk of cognitive impairment, too! Now a new study suggests these positive effects of physical activity on brain can be fortified by drinking beetroot juice before moderate exercise.

Beetroot, also known as beet or red beet, has been gaining in popularity as a new superfood after a number of studies linked this reddish purple coloured taproot to numerous health benefits. Some of the amazing health benefits of beetroot include lowering blood pressure, improving stamina and sleep, preventing constipation, boosting immunity, slowing progression of dementia etc. Beets come naturally packed with vitamin C, the B vitamin folate, fiber, and essential minerals like potassium and manganese.

Adding to the growing list of health benefits of beetroot, scientists from Wake Forest University, North Carolina have linked intake of beetroot juice to positive anti-aging effects on the brain.

According to the scientists, drinking beetroot juice prior to working out could take years off your brain and boost brain performance.

In their study, researchers found that older adults who drank beetroot juice before engaging in moderately intense exercise demonstrated considerable connectivity in regions of the brain associated with cognitive function, emotion and movement, as opposed to adults who did not consume beetroot juice prior to exercising.

“We knew, going in, that a number of studies had shown that exercise has positive effects on the brain,” said co-author of the study W. Jack Rejeski of the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. “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,”

For the study, Rejeski and colleagues recruited 26 participants, aged 55 years and older, none of whom engaged in exercise. All the participants had high blood pressure, and were taking up to two medications for the condition.

The participants were given to drink a beetroot juice supplement called Beet-It Sport Shot one hour before a 50-minute walk on a treadmill, three times a week for six weeks. Half the participants drank Beet-It containing 560 mg of nitrate, while the other half were given a placebo Beet-It with very little nitrate.

The researchers discovered that combining beet juice with exercise appeared to deliver more oxygen to the brain, hence strengthened somatomotor cortex, the region of the brain associated with motor activity. They also found higher levels of nitrate and nitrite in participants who drank the beetroot juice supplement than the placebo group after 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.

Findings of the study, titled as “Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain,” was published in the peer-reviewed Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.