The connection between beets and brain health is not widely known, but recent studies have shown that the humble beetroot has the potential to promote cognitive function and improve overall brain health.
Neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to change and adapt in response to new experiences and learning, is a relatively new area of study in the field of neuroscience. In recent years, scientists have been discovering more and more about how we can improve our cognitive function, memory, and learning by promoting neuroplasticity. One surprising and relatively unknown way to do this is through the consumption of beets.
Beets, also known as beetroot, are a root vegetable that are packed with nutrients, including nitrates. Nitrates are compounds that are naturally found in many foods, including leafy greens, root vegetables, and beets. When we consume nitrates, they are converted into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide is a molecule that plays a critical role in regulating blood flow, blood pressure, and many other physiological processes.
One of the most interesting ways that nitric oxide affects the body is through its ability to promote neuroplasticity. Studies have shown that nitric oxide can increase blood flow to the brain, which can in turn promote the growth of new brain cells, increase the production of neurotransmitters, and improve cognitive function.
Hydration is also important for brain health and cognitive function. Dehydration can cause a range of symptoms, including headaches, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating. Studies have shown that even mild dehydration can have a negative impact on cognitive function, memory, and mood.
Chemically speaking, emotional states such as love, bliss, joy, and surprise are associated with a range of neurotransmitters and hormones, including dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins. These chemicals play a critical role in regulating our mood, motivation, and sense of wellbeing.
So, how can beet juice help with all of this? The answer lies in the nitrates found in beets. When we consume beet juice, the nitrates are converted into nitric oxide in the body, which can in turn promote neuroplasticity, increase blood flow to the brain, and improve cognitive function.
Studies have shown that beet juice can have a positive impact on cognitive function, memory, and learning. For example, one study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that consuming beet juice improved cognitive function in young adults during a demanding cognitive task. Another study published in Science Daily found that consuming beetroot juice improved cognitive function in older adults.
Beets are also a great source of folate, a B-vitamin that plays a critical role in brain health. Folate, also known as folic acid or vitamin B9, is essential for the production of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that transmit signals between neurons in the brain.
Research has shown that folate deficiency can have negative effects on brain health, including cognitive decline, depression, and other mood disorders. In fact, a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that individuals with depression had lower levels of folate in their blood compared to healthy individuals.
Fortunately, beets are a great source of folate, with one cup of cooked beets containing about 34% of the recommended daily intake of folate for adults. This makes beets an easy and delicious way to support brain health and promote cognitive function.
But how exactly does folate impact the brain? Folate is involved in a process called methylation, which is essential for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Methylation is a chemical process that adds a methyl group to DNA, RNA, and proteins, which can turn genes on or off, and affect their expression.
In addition to promoting neuroplasticity and cognitive function, beet juice may also have other benefits for brain health. For example, a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the antioxidants in beet juice can protect the brain against oxidative stress, which can contribute to age-related cognitive decline.