Drinking Beetroot Juice Before Exercising Boosts Brain Performance

A number of studies have shown that physical activity can have positive effects on the brain, particularly in later life. New research has found that it may be possible to bolster these effects, simply by drinking beetroot juice before exercising.
[Beetroot and beetroot juice]
Researchers suggest that drinking beetroot before exercising may aid brain performance for older adults.

Researchers found that older adults who consumed beetroot juice prior to engaging in moderately intense exercise demonstrated greater connectivity in brain regions associated with motor function, compared with adults who did not drink beetroot juice before exercising.

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 is seen among the adults who drank beetroot juice was comparable to the connectivity seen in younger adults.

Rejeski and colleagues recently reported their findings in the Journals of Gerontology: Series A.

Beetroot – often referred to as “beet” – is a root vegetable best known for dominating plates of food with its bright purple juice. In recent years, beetroot has gained popularity for its potential health benefits, which include reduced blood pressure and increased exercise performance.

Such benefits have been attributed to the high nitrate content in beetroot. When consumed, nitrates are converted into nitric oxide, which studies have shown can lower blood pressure and increase blood flow to the brain.

Studies have demonstrated that exercise alone can benefit the brain. For their study, Rejeski and team set out to investigate whether beetroot juice might boost the brain benefits of physical activity.

Beetroot juice helped strengthen brain’s somatomotor cortex

The study comprised 26 participants, aged 55 years and older, who had high blood pressure. None of the participants engaged in regular exercise, and they were taking up to two medications to help lower their blood pressure.

All subjects were required to engage in 50 minutes of moderately intense exercise on a treadmill three times per week for 6 weeks. One hour before each session, half of the participants consumed a beetroot juice supplement containing 560 milligrams of nitrate, while the remaining participants consumed a placebo low in nitrates.

At the end of the 6 weeks, the researchers measured participants’ brain functioning using MRI.

The team found that subjects who consumed the beetroot juice supplement prior to exercising demonstrated a structurally stronger somatomotor cortex – a brain region that helps to control body movement – compared with participants who consumed the placebo.

Furthermore, subjects who drank the beetroot juice supplement also showed greater connectivity between the somatomotor cortex and the insular cortex, a brain region associated with motor control, cognitive functioning, emotion, and other brain functions. Such connectivity is usually seen in the brains of younger individuals, the team notes.

The researchers explain that the somatomotor cortex receives and processes signals from the muscles. As such, physical activity should strengthen this process.

They suggest that beetroot juice strengthens the somatomotor cortex further through its nitrate content; its conversion into nitric oxide boosts the delivery of oxygen to the brain.

“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,” says Rejeski.

While further research is required to replicate their results, the researchers believe that their study suggests that what we eat in later life may play an important role in brain health and mobility.

“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.”

5 Steps To A Fresh, Clean Start

Whether you’re embarking on an annual fresh start health regimen, or a quarterly change-of-season detox program or, perhaps a one-day-a-week energy and vitality booster, here are 5 simple tips to give you the very best results. It’s not difficult to look and feel years younger than your age. It is simply a matter of choice.

1. Plant-Based Food & Fresh Juices: While on a cleanse, adopt a plant-based diet with as many raw or “living” foods as possible. Emphasize any leafy greens because greens are very detoxifying and rejuvenating.

2. Water: Drink at least 8 glasses of purified water daily, in-between meals. When your body is fully hydrated, you can more easily flush toxins out of your system.

3. Exercise: It’s important to workout during a cleanse. If you’re feeling tired, do some yoga stretches or other simple movements. Make sure to include aerobic activity such as walking to help with your circulation.

4. Hot Baths & Sauna: A hot bath or sauna is also an excellent way to facilitate the removal of toxins through the skin.

5. Neti Nasal Cleansing: Why cleanse your body and ignore your nasal passages? Many people in America practice Neti cleansing on a daily basis to keep their sinuses clean and improve their ability to breathe freely.

Here’s a Super Smoothie Recipe to Help You to Detox & Rejuvenate Your Miraculous Body


Dried Plum & Apple Green Smoothie

(Serves 1-2)

This is a healthy and refreshing mid-morning or afternoon pick-me-up guaranteed to keep you in the flow this month and throughout the year and to help you detoxify and rejuvenate your miraculous body.

  • 1 cup vanilla yogurt (dairy or nondairy if you are a vegan)
  • 8 dried plums, pitted
  • 4 leaves of romaine lettuce
  • 1 kiwi, peeled
  • 1/2 banana (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate (you can also find it bottled and unfrozen)
  • 1/4 lemon, peeled (leave pithy part on)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 leaves fresh mint
  • 5-6 ice cubes

Blend until smooth and serve.

Dried Plums (Prunes) — A natural laxative, dried plums are a good source of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, beta-carotene, and iron. They help lower cholesterol and are beneficial for the blood, brain, and nerves.

This smoothie will help keep your digestive system in the pink this month and throughout the year. With a burst of flavors melding together, each glassful is detoxifying, rejuvenating, alkalizing, and energizing. You can also vary the taste each time you make it by adding in other fruits (fresh or frozen) and leafy greens (like baby leaf spinach or kale) that you have on hand. Whenever possible, choose organic produce, too.