Drink beetroot juice and exercise for a 'younger' brain
Drink beetroot juice and exercise for a 'younger' brain
Drinking a beetroot juice before exercise makes the aging brain perform more efficiently. Image credit Ken Bennett Wake Forest University
21 Abril, 2017, 03:14
Combining the two - beetroot juice and exercise - delivers even more oxygen to the brain, creating an excellent environment for strengthening the somatomotor cortex.
We knew, going in, that a number of studies had shown that exercise has positive effects on the brain. "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".
According to the authors, when you exercise, the brain's somatomotor cortex, which processes information from the muscles, sorts out the cues coming in from the body. In recent years, beetroot has gained popularity for its potential health benefits, which include reduced blood pressure and increased exercise performance.
The researchers described the findings published in Journals of Gerontology: Medical Sciences as "exciting" and said more work is needed to replicate and extend them.
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Meredith Petrie, a former student of Rejeski's, headed up the experiment, the first to test the combined effects of exercise and beetroot juice on functional brain networks in the motor cortex and secondary connections between the motor cortex and the insula.
The research team - including co-author W. Jack Rejeski of the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC - says that the increased brain connectivity seen among the adults who drank beetroot juice was comparable to the connectivity seen in younger adults.
Over the course of six weeks, all of the participants drank a beetroot juice supplement one hour before their three weekly treadmill workouts. Half got the real deal, the other half got a bunk Beet-It with low levels of nitrate.
After exercising, researchers found that although both groups had similar levels of nitrate and nitrite in the blood before drinking the juice, the beetroot juice group had much higher levels of nitrate and nitrite than the placebo group. This root veggie is linked to these healthy outcomes because it's filled with nitrates, which are transformed by the body into nitric oxide, a chemical compound that is imperative for good blood flow and a properly functioning metabolism.
W Jack Rejeski of Wake Forest University said, "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.
The research the latest in a series of findings concerning the effects of beetroot on health.
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