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Beet Juice and the Brain

Nutrition is an important part of health living, but certain foods can also help you thinkiStock_000045499888_Medium better as well. Beet root juice in particular can assist cognition by increasing blood flow to the brain. As more blood flows to the brain, it gets more oxygen, allowing it to function better.

Nitrates and Nitrites

Previous to the study that revealed the effects of beet juice on perfusion, or blood flow, to the brain, it was well known that foods high in nitrates are beneficial to cardiovascular function. The process works something like this:

  • Nitrates in foods such as lettuce, celery, spinach, and beets are consumed.
  • Bacteria in the mouth convert nitrates into nitrites.
  • Nitrites open up blood vessels, allowing better flow and lowering blood pressure
  • Blood carries nutrients and oxygen to areas lacking it

One study involving beet juice showed that beets not only help reduce blood pressure, but also assist blood flow to the brain, particularly the frontal lobe.

The Study

The study, performed by the Translational Science Center, involved 14 adults over the age of 70. On the first day of the study, subjects completed a health status report and had breakfast, which either had high levels of nitrates (including beet juice) or did not. They were then sent home with meals conforming to their diet assignments.

The next day, they reported again, ate breakfast, and had an MRI. The test was continued over the course of four days, in which they switched diets halfway through.

MRI results showed increased blood flow to the frontal lobe of the brain for those who had diets rich in nitrates. Since the brain, like any other part of the body, needs oxygen and nutrients to function, this shows a possibility that beet juice could help improve cognitive functioning.

Benefits in Combatting Dementia

In older adults, perfusion to the frontal lobe often diminishes. This area is what allows you to reason and use logic, and it’s closely tied to memory. It is also often associated with dementia as perfusion to that area decreases. Therefore, increasing blood flow to that part of the brain could improve cognitive functioning and combat memory loss.

A healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables is naturally better for overall bodily functioning. You feel better, have more energy, and are more resilient to disease. Add to that the effects of beet juice, and you have a very hopeful outlook for preventing dementia and other cognitive disorders. Skilled nursing facilities should ensure their residents get the nutrition they need, which is why Senior Care Centers makes healthy eating a priority. For more information about our Care Centers, contact us today!

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