Beetroot Juice May Protect Against Brain Aging Beyond Exercise Alone

last month
74 in health

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Introduction


Beetroot juice has been lauded in recent years as having potential cardiovascular benefits as well as enhancing exercise capacity.

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Beetroot juice has exercise benefits!

A new study in the Journal of The Gerontological Society of America by Petrie et al [1] suggests that a combination of BOTH exercise and beetroot juice provide added benefits beyond just exercise alone when it comes to antiaging activity on the aging brain.

The authors summarise it very well in their conclusions:

Older adults who exercised and consumed BRJ demonstrated greater consistency within the motor community and fewer secondary connections with the insular cortex compared with those who exercised without BRJ. The exercise + BRJ group had brain networks that more closely resembled those of younger adults, showing the potential enhanced neuroplasticity conferred by combining exercise and BRJ consumption.

Unfortunately this is not an open access study but if you are interested the abstract does provide a good summary.

I'm aware that people have limited time for reading so I will keep this short and super simple - as always do let me know if I have the balance right though.


How Does Beetroot Juice Work?


It is believed that beetroot juice acts by raising nitric oxide (NO) levels.

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NO Reduces BP & Improves Blood Flow

NO is a compound that can relax the smooth muscle in the walls of arteries, leading to improved blood flow and reduced blood pressure (which can reduce the amount of work your heart needs to do).

This is likely what makes it such a potent combination with exercise.

In simple terms the NO makes it easier for the blood to get into your muscles (including your heart).

It doesn't just affect muscles though and this study suggests these changes in blood flow may have positive effects on the brain too.

Methods


Twenty-six subjects with a mean age of 65.4 years were given a six week course of either exercise and a beetroot juice supplement or exercise and placebo.

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26 Subjects with a mean age of 65

The placebo that was used was an identical beetroot juice supplement which had the nitrate content reduced to insignificant levels.

The exercise consisted of three 50 minute walking sessions per week for the six week period.

MRI (magnetic resonance) imaging was used to analyse brain function and connectivity before and after the intervention period.

Metabolic activity (MET) was determined using graded exercise tests.

Tests were also performed to measure nitrite/nitrate levels post consumption of the beetroot juice supplements.


Results


Put simply the main finding seems to be that the active intervention group had brains that were more consistent with a younger age group on MRI scanning.

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Beetroot juice + exercise = younger brain

Of particular interest to me is the fact that the intervention group had REDUCED interconnectivity between the somatomotor cortex and insular regions.

The insula is involved in integrating a variety of inputs from the body and other brain regions, in this case it is particularly relevant to integrating information for mobility/movement.

It is believed that reduced mobility ENHANCES such connections possibly as an attempt by the brain to adapt to reduced sensory/motor inputs.

A reduction in connectivity is therefore consistent with a more youthful and healthy brain.

Finally although there appeared to be some metabolic improvements as assessed by the exercise testing these did not reach statistical significance - this may be due to the short intervention period.


Problems


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Common issues in medical research

There are two major problems here:

  1. Tiny Sample Size.
  2. Short Duration of Intervention.
We often run into the issue of small sample size. It brings up the issue of repeatability and this is further compounded by the short intervention period here.

The short duration of the intervention may also be responsible for the metabolic measurements not reaching statistical significance.

These kinds of issues are common in medical research due to the high costs involved and we must always take them into consideration when assessing studies.

On a side note testing of nitrite/nitrate levels did show a significant increase in blood levels in those who consumed the "active" (nitrate-rich) beetroot juice supplement but not in those consuming the placebo version. This is what we would expect but it is good to have confirmation.

The analysis of brain activity and connectivity using the MRI scans is beyond my level of expertise (as I am not a medical physicist) so I can't really comment on that from a technical standpoint.

Conclusion


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Beetroot juice may help with this

This research suggests that supplementing exercise with beetroot juice may help to restore more youthful brain activity and connectivity in older subjects BEYOND what can be achieved with exercise alone.

This adds to existing body of evidence on beneficial effects from beetroot juice consumption on exercise and cardiovascular health.

As is often the case this study requires further confirmation using larger sample sizes and longer intervention periods. This is an encouraging start though.

Thank you for reading


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References


  1. Petrie, Meredith, W. Jack Rejeski, Swati Basu, Paul J. Laurienti, Anthony P. Marsh, James L. Norris, Daniel B. Kim-Shapiro, and Jonathan H. Burdette. 2016. “Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain.” The Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, November. doi:10.1093/gerona/glw219.


All uncredited images are taken from my personal Thinkstock Photography account. More information can be provided on request.



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Sort Order:  trending
64
  ·  last month

This is valuable information, my friend. I had no notion of this. I have always consumed juices of different fruits, but never beets. And I did not know about its benefits. I usually add beets to meals, but from now on I'll start to try making juices. Thanks for the information. Cheers!

@tincho

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74
  ·  last month

You're welcome mate.

Personally I find them hard to eat due to the sourness but it seems I should try to find ways to get around this! I had been using the juice (even though I don't like the taste) before going to the gym and it does seem to help a lot with exercise but you can never be sure how much of that is placebo effect.

Incidentally how do you eat the beetroots - do you cook them on there own or as part of a dish?

Also forgot to say if you want to repost any of these in spanish feel free.

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64
  ·  last month

I think the important thing is to have a balanced diet of all foods. And divide the meals into 6 a day. Less quantity in more servings. And honestly I had never thought to drink the beet as juice. It is one more food that I can add to my diet to have more variety.

On the beet root, here we use them in many ways, you can make them roasted or in a risotto. There are even beet-flavored ice creams in here. I eat them as often as I can, but varying with other foods.

Thanks for offering me the repost. With spanish-trail (as part of steemtrail) what we do is to encourage Spanish-speaking writers. And sincerely I do not encourage, to translate your texts, because my English is very bad. I use translators to write and I do not want to do it wrong. It's something I do not feel safe about. But I really appreciate you letting me know.

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74
  ·  last month

I think the important thing is to have a balanced diet of all foods.

Yes definitely.

On the beet root, here we use them in many ways, you can make them roasted or in a risotto. There are even beet-flavored ice creams in here.

I will need to look up some recipes then - not sure I would like the ice-cream though!

I use translators to write and I do not want to do it wrong. It's something I do not feel safe about. But I really appreciate you letting me know.

OK no problem :)

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70
  ·  last month

@thecryptofiend I love beetroot juice but I actually just take them a week before that menstrual cycle to pacify the hormonal chaos :D
#til beetroot may actually protect against brain aging, thank you . It's pretty sweet though so I always add ice or warm water during winter haha.

how do you eat the beetroots

Just bake them - with peel and all - no earthy smell and just sweet or boiled with peel like that of a potato would give the same effect but boil only what you can eat and store in the fridge for two days - it goes bad pretty fast refrigerated and all.

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74
  ·  last month

Cool thanks!

63
  ·  last month

thank you @thecryptofiend for this valuable information! What very often is unnoticed is the fact, that not only the beetroot itself is very healthy and nutricious but also the leaves of the root, that contain high amounts of minerals, vitamins and enzymes! You find a recipe for a tasty beetrootleave smoothie with banana and mango here.

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74
  ·  last month

Cool thank you I will take a look - the smoothie might be a more palatable way for someone like me to take it!

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63
  ·  last month

don't say that! beetrootjuice is sooo delicious! Add some apple and ginger, perfect!

41
  ·  last month
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74
  ·  last month

Thank you.

62
  ·  last month

I love it but it stains like crazy!

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74
  ·  last month

Yes I spilt some on on of my exercise shirts and nothing gets it out.

54
  ·  last month

I guess I have to start to take notes about everything good of gerontological something... :-)

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74
  ·  last month

Lol it is hard to keep up for sure!

68
  ·  last month

Hi @thecryptofriend, thanks for the very informative post.

Must it be beetroot juice, or will normal beetroot do the same job?

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74
  ·  last month

I think normal beetroot would work too but you would need to eat more of it to get the same amount of nitrate - which is what we think causes the effect.

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68
  ·  last month

Thanks for the reply

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74
  ·  last month

You're welcome.

57
  ·  last month

Thanks for sharing.
Information is very useful to cure diseases, and also maintain health
Upvote and resteem.
@thecryptofiend

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74
  ·  last month

Thank you :)

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57
  ·  last month

Welcome.
😍😘

71
  ·  last month

A combination of healthy food, exercise and a positive basic attitude is the guarantee for a long life. Thank you for your report....

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74
  ·  last month

Yes that is always good advice. Thank you!

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71
  ·  last month

you are welcome 👍🌺😎

52
  ·  last month

thanks we need to look after our health

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74
  ·  last month

Yes for sure!

57
  ·  last month

I'm not really worried about my brain. I think I may have the mind of a 15 year old. But does beetroot juice happen to work on knees? Mine feel like they are 90!

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74
  ·  last month

I don't think it would do anything for your knees.

68
  ·  last month

I love eating beetroot freshly cooked, my teeth go purple as do my fingers but I don't care. I might give the juice a go :)

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74
  ·  last month

I use to like it as a kid but now I find it too sour. The juice is strong but you can just gulp it down.

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68
  ·  last month

Is it not better to just eat the beetroot, freshly cooked yum :)

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74
  ·  last month

Not sure if it is better in this specific regard but overall it might be healthier as obviously juicing removes the fibre.

63
  ·  last month

Excellent post!! thank you for sharing

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74
  ·  last month

Thank you for your kind words!

68
  ·  last month

Great article. Exercise and a healthy diet packed with fresh, whole foods are key to good health and slow down the aging process too!

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74
  ·  last month

Thank you:) I agree!

59
  ·  last month

Appreciate the time you put into researching, compiling and sharing this info.

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74
  ·  last month

Thank you:)

72
  ·  last month

Thanks for explaining this. Soon, we'll all be crapping purple.

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74
  ·  last month

Lol!

69
  ·  last month

Thank you for the information. One day, my mother gave me a beetroot. I didn't know how to cook. :) I like the fresh beetroot and the color. I forgot beetroot for a long time. I think I should have more from now on. @thecryptofiend

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74
  ·  last month

Yes definitely.

45
  ·  last month

Consuming nutritious foods, adequate rest, exercise and a positive basic attitude is a guarantee for better health. Thank you for your information

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74
  ·  last month

Very true.

51
  ·  last month

But the taste...

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74
  ·  last month

Yes that is an issue. I think you get used to it - I think the bigger issue is how expensive some of these supplement juices are!

57
  ·  last month

@thecryptofiend
I've never been a huge fan of beets but it looks like I might need to for my health's sake. Excellent post, I might add!

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74
  ·  last month

Thank you:)

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57
  ·  last month

you're welcome!

63
  ·  last month

This is indeed very interesting and I might just give it a shot, the only problem is a cant stand beetroot, maybe with more evidence ill try blending some, thanks for the info @thecryptofiend

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74
  ·  last month

You're welcome. I have to admit I'm not keen on it either. Plus the juice is expensive.

51
  ·  last month

I sure have learn't a lot from your post, my time was well spent

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74
  ·  last month

Thanks I'm glad it was useful :)

70
  ·  last month

My wife had a diet some years ago that include beetroot root. She hated that taste but I kind of love it. Now, there's another reason I tell her to eat it.

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74
  ·  last month

She is not alone!

69
  ·  last month

Quality scientific writing with excellent referencing, but you did miss out the source of your images. A senior poster like you should already know this.