According to new research performed at Wake Forest University, taking a daily shot of beet juice one hour before a workout can improve the function and performance of aging brains.
The researchers recruited 26 sedentary men with high blood pressure whose average age was 65. The men participated in a six-week exercise program consisting of walking on a treadmill three times a week until they could exercise for 50 minutes per session. One group drank a shot of beet juice one hour before exercise, and a second group took a placebo. Peak metabolic equivalent capacity and functional brain network organization in both groups were examined using functional magnetic resonance imaging.
Both groups showed improved neuron connections in the motor regions of their brains at end of six weeks, but the improvements were significantly greater in the exercise plus beet juice group. The beet juice group also had brain networks that more closely resembled those of younger adults—comparable to the brain mobility of a 26-year-old.
The results suggest that combining exercise with beet juice consumption confers a potential enhanced brain neuroplasticity. According to the researchers, this is due to the high nitrate content of beet juice, which is converted to nitric oxide in the bloodstream. In low-oxygen conditions (such as during hard exercise), the conversion process is enhanced. Drinking beet juice before a workout means more nitrite can be converted to nitric oxide to feed the areas of your brain that start to suffer from reduced oxygen levels as a result of the exercise.
For more information, read the abstract here.