Beetroot Health Benefits Can Enhance Your Athletic Ability!

By: Michael Lam, MD, MPH; Justin Lam, ABAAHP, FMNM

Beetroot Health Benefits for Athletes and Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome

Beetroot health benefits your heart.Research recently published in two leading scientific journals demonstrated the power of nutrients in beetroot juice concentrate for both athletes and people with serious heart conditions. Beetroot health benefits come from this vegetable’s ability to increase oxygen flow in the blood and to certain muscle groups. Some exercise physiologists, and other scientist looking into the subject, agree with the connection, saying bioactive compounds found in this vegetable juice product have a profound effect on oxygen levels delivered to muscles, especially fast-twitch muscles.

The researchers found that beetroot health benefits were the result of nitrate compounds in the beetroot concentrate. These compounds increase the flow of blood and oxygen to muscles, including the heart, giving athletes greater strength and heart patients more oxygen for daily living. These beneficial effects of beetroot can also be relevant to people with Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) and anyone else seeking good health.

Beetroot Health Benefit Research

A study published in Physiology, in 2013, showed greater oxygen being delivered to skeletal muscles in test subjects engaging in exercise.

Another study, published in the Journal of Nitric Oxide, Biology, and Chemistry, in 2014, studied the details of different muscle types and beetroot health benefits. This study found that elevated nitrates from beetroot concentrate has a greater effect on fast-twitch muscles. These are the muscle fibers needed for fast movement and rapid response.

Lead researcher of the study, David Poole, a professor at Kansas State University in the Department of Exercise, Kinesiology, and Anatomy said, “Our research showed beetroot concentrate increasing blood flow to muscles while exercising.” This research was done in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Jones, professor at the University of Exeter in the UK, and was funded by the US National Institute of Health.

How Beetroot Health Benefits Work

The nitrates found in beetroot concentrate are turned into nitrite with the help of bacteria in the mouth. When the nitrite is swallowed, it is reduced further into nitric oxide, a compound well known for its ability to dilate blood vessels. When blood vessels are larger, it is like opening a faucet, letting oxygen carrying blood move more freely to all parts of the body.

The studies cited above found results of a 38 percent increase of blood, going preferentially to fast-twitch muscles used in exercise and strenuous activity. This is a significant increase, and researchers extended their conclusions to the implications for heart patients as well as athletes.

Athletes use beetroot health benefits to stay healthy.“For every football player there are thousands of heart patients,” Poole said. “If you can get a 10 percent increase in oxygen for these patients, it can be the difference between being in a wheelchair and being able to walk around.”

“During heart failure, oxygen is not properly delivered to skeletal muscles, reducing the capability for moving the arms and legs and walking around,” Poole explained further. He also said that moving around is often the best therapy for heart patients, yet they are often unable to comply, because of a lack of oxygen getting to their muscles. The same can also be said for many people with AFS.

The conclusions from these beetroot health benefits studies show that this simple, natural plant extract can have a positive impact on improved oxygen flow, leading to a greater ease in moving around and more overall energy. This information can be applied as well to people healing from AFS.

Beetroot Health Benefit Studies and AFS

In adrenal fatigue, the body is stressed and becomes deregulated. The adrenal glands are not able to keep up with hormone production and symptoms can start appearing. Increasing blood flow to muscles is necessary during any exercise. A supplement which increases the blood and oxygen getting to muscles, improves your ability to do the exercise in the first place. Moderate exercise is vital for good circulation and liver function. In fact, all bodily systems function better when a person gets regular, moderate exercise appropriate to their physical capacities and limitations.

One of the liver’s many functions is to process hormones like cortisol. When the liver is not functioning optimally, all other body systems are also affected, including the adrenals. When cortisol levels are not timed right, exercising may feel impossible. The interconnection between these bodily processes is heavily involved in the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system. The NEM model helps shed light on the importance of taking a whole body approach to healing and handling stress. The adrenals modulate stress by producing hormones. The liver is needed for detoxification and the reduction of toxic stress load on the body. When the body is stressed and low on energy, the liver can become sluggish, and the adrenals fatigued. Nitric oxide, which increases blood flow may help with liver detoxing and energy levels. In advanced stages of adrenal fatigue however, blood pressure is often low already, increasing nitric oxide may further reduce it. The morea advance the AFS, the higher the risk.

Nitric oxide is a key molecule, in the body, for a number of reasons. Besides improving function in fast-twitch muscles, it is also a strong vasodilator affecting smooth muscles involved in blood pressure and circulation. In addition, it curbs inflammation and oxidation in the endothelium.

Dysfunction of endothelial tissue is an underlying cause of atherosclerosis and other heart conditions. This knowledge has been around for over a century and explains why nitroglycerin is such an effective agent for angina. Popular erectile dysfunction drugs also make use of nitric oxide pathways for improving blood flow to the penis.

Beetroot health benefits brain disorders such as dementia.  Nitric oxide is also involved in neurotransmission in the brain and has shown effectiveness in protection against dementia. It is also involved physiological functions as diverse as insulin signaling, ATP production, and respiration.

A 70 milliliter shot of beetroot juice provides as much nitrate as four ounces of spinach and is considered a starting point for taking beetroot juice concentrate. The use of this supplement may have beneficial effects on a wide range of functions involved in AFS, provided there is no blood pressure problems pre-existing.

Drawbacks to Beetroot Juice

Beetroot juice has its benefits, but it is not for everyone. Some of the known drawbacks are;

  • The amount of nitrates in beets is not the same in every batch, unless the supplement is taken in a standardized form.
  • Beetroot is high in oxalates which can interfere with the function of the kidneys,
  • It can be problematic for people with gastro-intestinal flora imbalances,
  • Some people do not like the taste,
  • It can be costly per dose,
  • It only affects one nitric oxide metabolic pathway.

Research into beetroot health benefits is ongoing. If you have AFS in mild stages, beetroot may be helpful. If you are in advanced stages of AFS with low blood pressure, consult your AFS literate practitioner prior to commencing.

© Copyright 2016 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Beetroot health benefits