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Beetroot Juice Could be Great Xmas Gift for Elderly


Are you wondering what to get grandma and grandpa this year for Xmas? How about something unique, like beetroot juice, which a new study suggests could help the elderly enjoy more active lives.

Beetroot juice may improve physical functioning in elderly

The new study, which was conducted at University of Exeter, is not the first to uncover possible health benefits for older adults who take beetroot juice (also referred to as beet juice). One study from Queen Mary’s William Harvey Research Institute found that drinking beet juice can lower blood pressure, while another found that it can improve exercise tolerance.

Another important finding for the elderly are the results of a study from Wake Forest University, where researchers found that drinking beet juice may be helpful in fighting dementia. That study was the first to find a link between beet juice and improved blood flow to the brain in the elderly.

The new Exeter study, which was done in conjunction with the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry, explored the impact of beet juice on low intensity exercise and found that it reduces the effort to walk by 12 percent.

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Although 12 percent may not sound like a big improvement, Katie Lansley, a PhD student at Exeter and the study’s lead author, noted that “as you get older, or if you have conditions which affect your cardiovascular system, the amount of oxygen you can take in to use during exercise drops considerably. This means that, for some people, even simple tasks like walking may not be manageable.”

The study’s authors found that beetroot juice can reduce the amount of oxygen people need to perform low-intensity exercise, such as walking. Beet juice helps this effort in several ways.

One, it contains a high concentration of nitrates, the key ingredient responsible for opening up the blood vessels, which increases blood flow. Two, nitrates also reduce the amount of oxygen the muscles require during exercise. This combination of benefits can improve a person’s ability to exercise and do other physical tasks.

While Lansley admits “we haven’t measured the effects on the elderly or those with heart or lung conditions, there is the potential for a positive impact on these populations which we intend to go on and investigate further.”

If you shop for beetroot or beet juice this Xmas for an elderly relative (or even for yourself), note that the researchers in this study tested both normal beetroot juice and juice with the nitrates filtered out. They found “a marked improvement in performance” in the unfiltered juice. Anyone taking beet juice should first talk to a knowledgeable healthcare professional.

University of Exeter