November 20, 2017

The Benefits of Beets for Your Brain

raw organic beet juice in a glass

Plenty of foods get labeled “superfoods”. But beets deserve this reputation like few others. As noted in a recent issue of the Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research: “Beetroot juice contains dietary nitrates that increase the blood nitric oxide (NO) level, decrease blood pressure, increase athletic performance, and improve cognitive functions…” What more could one ask of a simple root vegetable? Great flavor? They’ve got it!

What’s not to love?


Of course, not everyone loves beets, nor does everyone have the time or inclination to consume them every day. To get the greatest amount of health-boosting NO, it’s most productive to juice raw beets, or to eat them raw, making it all the more challenging to get your daily dose of beet-derived goodness.


Fortunately, at Berkeley Life, we’ve made it easy to enhance your health and wellness by packaging that natural goodness in a convenient powder, which can be consumed quickly and easily, on your own schedule.


Beetroot Enhances Exercise Performance and Tolerance


Studies have consistently shown that greater consumption of dietary nitrates—such as those in beetroot—leads to higher levels of NO in the body, and to health benefits; such as significantly enhanced exercise tolerance and performance. This is evidently achieved by NO’s effects on the cardiovascular system’s ability to deliver maximal oxygen to hard-working muscle cells during exertion.


These studies, often performed with athletes exercising to their limits in laboratories, indicate that beetroot dietary nitrates help the body utilize all-important oxygen more efficiently. While this has the effect of enhancing exercise performance and reducing fatigue, it also has important implications for brain health. That’s because the brain is, to put it delicately, an oxygen hog. While it only accounts for about 2%-3% of body weight, it voraciously consumes up to 25% of the body’s oxygen supply.


More Efficient Neurovascular Coupling


Recently, scientists have discovered an intricate method by which harder-working brain cells “ask” for still more oxygen—and get it. It’s called “neurovascular coupling,” and it involves a complex array of cells and signaling molecules. Together, they work to boost blood flow to the localized brain cells that need a temporary increase in oxygen to operate with maximal efficiency.


Emerging research is also beginning to show that drinking beetroot juice before exercise can significantly reduce the so-called Cerebral Augmentation Index (CAI); this is a calculation that essentially measures the undesirable stiffness of arteries in the brain. Cardiovascular disease is typically characterized by arteries that become increasingly stiff and inelastic. When this happens in the brain, it may affect the brain’s ability to obtain the correct amounts of oxygen needed to accomplish demanding tasks. Higher CAI is typically linked to cognitive decline. In one recent study, beetroot juice supplementation before exercise reduced the CAI of volunteers during exercise.


It’s interesting to note that the brain possesses its own form of an enzyme that is used to transform dietary nitrates into nitrite, and then into NO. This suggests that the brain and nervous system depend on NO for important functions, just as the cardiovascular system has been shown to do.


Another intriguing study looked at the effects of dietary nitrate supplementation (beetroot juice) on both blood flow in the brain and cognitive performance. This well-controlled, double-blind study showed that a single dose of beetroot juice enhances blood flow to the brain, and results in measurable improvements in cognitive performance. Subjects downed about 15 ounces of beetroot juice 90 minutes before the start of testing.


If you’d love to experience the potential improvements in reasoning, memory and thinking that it may provide—but drinking nearly 15 ounces of freshly made beetroot juice sounds a bit daunting—consider ordering one of our natural beetroot powder supplements. It’s a quick, convenient and easy way to reap the benefits of this superfood.

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