Beetroot juice may be a simple way to improve one’s health in a way that promotes healthier aging, according to a new study from the University of Exeter. The researchers linked drinking this juice with beneficial changes in mouth bacteria, something that had a cascading effect on vascular and brain health.
Past research has linked a decrease in nitric oxide production with a similar decrease in vascular and brain health. This is a problem for older people who tend to produce lower amounts of nitric oxide, potentially contributing to less healthy blood vessels and cognitive function.
However, some of the beneficial bacteria found in the mouth are able to convert nitrate into nitric oxide, and that’s where the beetroot juice comes in. The researchers behind this new study note that beetroot is one of the many plant foods that contain a high quantity of inorganic nitrate.
When consumed, the mouth bacteria go to work converting the nitrate from the beetroot juice into nitric oxide, at least based on the study of 26 older but otherwise healthy adults over the course of two 10-day periods.
Participants given the beetroot juice experienced an increase in the beneficial mouth bacteria linked to brain and vascular health, as well as a drop in ‘bad’ bacteria that may drive inflammation and disease in the body. As well, these participants experienced an average 5-point drop in systolic blood pressure. The findings highlight the importance of maintaining healthy mouth bacteria in addition to gut bacteria.