Researchers from Wake Forest University just revealed that sipping on a simple juice can trigger an older brain to operate like a far younger one. And if you’re anything like me, and concerned about staying as sharp as a tack as you age, that’s VERY welcome news.
But the best news of all may be that you don’t have to wait around for Big Pharma to figure out how to make a profit before you can benefit from this finding. Because this superjuice is easy to get your hands on.
In fact, you can grab a bottle right off the supermarket shelf today. Or, if you’re feeling motivated, you even whip up a batch of it in your own kitchen!
Does beet juice reverse brain aging?
In the small, but exciting, placebo-controlled study researchers worked with a group of 26 volunteers who were all 55 or older. The mixed group of men and women had a few other things in common: none of them exercised, each had high blood pressure and no one was taking any more than two drugs to treat their hypertension.
Three times a week for six weeks the volunteers were given a nitrate-rich beet juice supplement, or a placebo, one hour before they took a swift 50-minute walk on a treadmill.
Now the scientists already knew that exercise alone has positive effects on the brain. And that beets are rich in nitrate, which eventually converts into exercise-enhancing nitric oxide in the body.
But everyone was surprised to see the impressive effects the juice had on the volunteer’s brains. Adding the beet juice to their exercise routine literally boosted connectivity in their brains.
Beet juice may be the secret to a younger brain
The brains of the older adults performed better and operated in much the same way a younger brain does, according to the study published in the Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.1
Experts believe it’s the bump in nitric oxide (NO) that’s likely behind the impressive brain boost. You see, NO is naturally drawn to any parts of your body that are running low on oxygen.
And since your brain is an oxygen hog, especially during exercise, NO speeds its way to your head feeding your noodle extra oxygen when it needs it most.
Before the volunteer’s drank the beet juice or placebo they had similar nitrate and nitrite (the molecule nitrate first converts to in your body) levels. But after exercising the folks who had the superjuice had significantly higher levels of both.
Beets bring the benefits
Brain boosting isn’t the only benefit that naturally anti-inflammatory beets bring to the table.
Studies show beet juice is tops when it comes to lowering high blood pressure too.2,3,4 Beet juice boosts NO levels which in turn dilate blood vessels allowing blood to flow more freely, dropping your pressure.
This benefit is for the guys (okay, and the ladies that love them too). Beet juice may help men achieve stronger erections. And once again we have nitric oxide to thank.
Although we don’t yet have any studies on the direct impact of beet juice on erectile dysfunction specifically, there’s plenty of research showing that NO stimulates blood vessels to widen increasing blood flow all over. That, of course, includes where you need it the most to help improve your erections, and heat things back up in the bedroom.
According to a study published in the journal Nitric Oxide, it’s this same increase in blood flow that means beet juice may be an effective deterrent to dementia.5
Experts say blood flow to certain parts of our brain starts to drop as we age. That slowed circulation can show up as poor cognition, and sometimes even lead to full-blown dementia. But a regular beet juice habit could help widen blood vessels, boosting circulation to your brain and heading off thinking troubles.
Give beet juice a try
Beet juice is not terribly hard to find these days. In fact, I spotted organic beet juice at my local grocery store in the organic aisle. If your regular supermarket doesn’t carry it try the nearest natural foods store or look online. One brand we like around here is Biotta.
Or look for a beetroot supplement. The one used in the study was called Beet-It Sport Shot.
If you have a juicer you can try your hand at making homemade beet juice. Since raw unsweetened beet juice tends to be a bit bitter I suggest you mix it with another healthy juice, such as carrot for example. And be careful, beet juice stains. I learned that lesson the hard way.
1. “Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain,” J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci glw219
2. “The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease,” Nutrients. 2015 Apr; 7(4): 2801–2822
3. “Inorganic nitrate and beetroot juice supplementation reduces blood pressure in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis,” The Journal of Nutrition. June 1, 2013, Vol. 143 no. 6 818-826
4. “Dietary nitrate provides sustained blood pressure lowering in hypertensive patients: a randomized, phase 2, double-blind, placebo-controlled study,” Hypertension. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2015 Feb 1.
5. “Acute effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults,” Nitric Oxide, Volume 24, Issue 1, 1 January 2011, Pages 34–42
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