According to a study published recently in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, drinking a beetroot juice before exercise makes the brain of older adults perform more efficiently, mirroring the operations of a younger brain.
But what if you could supercharge this effect and kickstart an older brain into functioning with the efficiency of a brain much younger?
The consistency of the somatomotor community across participants; there is increased somatomotor community consistency following exercise in the beetroot juice (BRJ) group; this community included the primary motor cortex, somatosensory cortex, and midline supplementary motor regions; both the upper coronal images and lower axial images show the somatomotor community.
Beetroot contains nitrate, which is first converted to nitrite and then nitric oxide in the body.
Exercise should strengthen the somatomotor cortex.
For the finding, researchers from Wake Forest University in the USA studied about 26 men and women aged 55 and older who did not exercise, had high blood pressure and took no more than two medications for high blood pressure. For six weeks, three times a week, the group took part in a moderately intense 50-minute walk on a treadmill, drinking a beetroot juice supplement before hand.
Half the participants received Beet-It containing 560 mg of nitrate; the others received a placebo Beet-It with very little nitrate. Studies have already shown it can improve exercise performance in people of various ages.
Although this study adds to the list of ongoing research regarding the effects of beets on health, the authors note more extensive research is needed to better understand beets' relationship with physical functioning. "But what we showed in this brief training study of hypertensive older adults was that, as compared to exercise alone, adding a beetroot juice supplement to exercise resulted in brain connectivity that closely resembles what you see in younger adults". Nitric oxide increases blood flow in the body, and multiple studies have shown it can improve exercise performance in people of various ages, researchers said.
Exercising is thought to bolster the somatomotor cortex-an area of the brain that deals with information from the body as it moves and processes muscle activity-and, since beet juice helps with blood flow, even more oxygen may get to the brain when it is combined with working out.
The one catch? The sample group was only 26 people. To confirm the results, Petrie, Rejeski and their team will need to do further work to replicate the findings.
What other vegetables are an excellent source of nitrate?
The ancient Romans considered beetroot an aphrodisiac.