By David Blyweiss, M.D., Advanced Natural Wellness
June 7, 2017
- The #1 thing your brain needs to stay fit and young
- Why do exercisers have bigger brains?
- Dynamic duo could rejuvenate aging brains
If you want to keep your brain fit and young, there’s one thing it absolutely must have… an excellent supply of oxygen-rich blood. Without it, your brain will start to shrivel up and lose its cognitive function.
But when you boost blood flow to the brain, it delivers all of the blood and nutrients you need ward off brain shrinkage. Great blood flow also cuts your chances of developing amyloid plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Now, there are two great ways to get more blood to your brain.
One of them is to eat plenty nitrate-rich foods like red beetroot (or beetroot juice), leafy greens and celery. (I personally prefer beets or beetroot juice over other sources. These are by far the most abundant source of nitrates available from diet alone.)
When you eat these foods, nitrates go through a process in your body that results in the production of nitric oxide, or NO. And when you have a steady stream of NO, it keeps your arteries and veins wide open. Blood surges through them exactly the way it should.
This means you’ll also get more blood flow to the parts of your brain that need it the most. In particular, it fuels the white matter in your frontal lobes… an area of the brain associated with dementia and mental decline.
Why do Exercisers have Bigger Brains?
Every time you exercise, you increase blood flow throughout your body, including your brain. Like beetroot juice, it works by boosting nitric oxide.
This easily explains why older people who get more exercise have less brain shrinkage and lower rates of amyloid plaque than those who are more sedentary.
They also have more of something called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF.
This protein encourages the growth of new neurons and improves their function. Additionally, BDNF enhances brain activities that help it make the right connections more easily and readily.
When you put all of this together, it’s no wonder that people who get moderate exercise in midlife have almost a 40 percent reduced likelihood of developing cognitive impairment. Even if you start exercising later in life, it can reduce the odds of mental decline by more than 30 percent.
Now just imagine what you could achieve if you were to combine exercise with a big blast of nitric oxide.
Dynamic Duo could Rejuvenate Aging Brains
The NO boost you get from beetroot juice can go a long way when it comes to powering up your exercise sessions. This is especially true if you lack stamina and endurance, or if you lose your breath quickly while working out.
That’s because higher NO levels reduce the amount of oxygen your lungs need during physical exertion. NO also boosts energetic function of your muscles. This helps to increase both exercise tolerance and performance… letting you exercise longer before reaching exhaustion.
At the same time, beetroot juice greatly reduces the load on your vascular system during exercise.
But here’s even bigger news!
If you drink beetroot juice about an hour before you exercise, it can increase your brain connectivity to a level that’s more commonly seen in younger adults.
In particular, the combination of beetroot juice and exercise appears to strengthen a region of the brain that often shows changes in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a big win to me! More endurance. Better oxygen utilization. Greater blood flow. Younger brain!
Just 500 ml (480ml is a pint) of beetroot juice is all you’ll need, about an hour before exercise.
If you find the taste unpleasant, try mixing it with a little apple or orange juice to make it a little more appealing. Or, you can look for a plant-based NO enhancer that has beetroot juice as its main ingredient. (These plant-based formulas vary from one manufacturer to another, so make sure to choose the one that gives you the biggest bang for your buck.)
de la Torre JC, et al. “Evidence that Alzheimer’s disease is a microvascular disorder: the role of constitutive nitric oxide.” Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2000 Dec;34(3):119-36.
Roher AE, et al. Cerebral blood flow in Alzheimer’s disease. Vasc Health Risk Manag. 2012; 8: 599–611.
Presley TD, et al. Acute effect of a high nitrate diet on brain perfusion in older adults. Nitric Oxide. 2011 Jan 1;24(1):34-42.
Maeda S, et al. Effects of exercise training of 8 weeks and detraining on plasma levels of endothelium-derived factors, endothelin-1 and nitric oxide, in healthy young humans. Life Sci. 2001 Jul 20;69(9):1005-16.
Gow AJ, et al. “Neuroprotective lifestyles and the aging brain: Activity, atrophy, and white matter integrity.” Neurology, 2012; 79 (17).
Geda YE, et al. “Physical exercise, aging, and mild cognitive impairment: a population-based study.” Arch Neurol. 2010 Jan;67(1):80-6.
Petrie M, et al. Beet Root Juice: An Ergogenic Aid for Exercise and the Aging Brain. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Nov 9.