Brain health is one of the most important pieces of the wellness puzzle. Since your brain controls basically everything about you, keeping it in tip-top shape is paramount to living a long and happy life. We know the best exercise for brain health, and we know that avocados are one of the best types of foods to eat for it, too. But now, according to MSN, new research published in the Journal of Gerontology says we should add a new food to the fridge, one that seriously boots brain functioning. There's only one catch: You need to ingest it before exercise.
That's right. There's a correlation between consuming this type of food before exercising and increased long-term brain functioning. In fact, there are signs that combining this food with exercise might even reverse the signs of mental aging. Keep reading to learn which food it is.
The miracle food in question: beets. Researchers at Wake Forest University studied 26 middle-aged to elderly sedentary men. Throughout six weeks, half of them drank beet juice before exercising, and the other half drank a placebo drink. At the end of the six weeks, the researchers analyzed the connections in their brains through fMRI technology.
What they found was astounding. While both groups had improvements in brain neurons, those that drank beet juice had significantly greater results. In fact, the middle-aged and elderly men who drank beet juice were found to have motor regions of the brain that were comparable to that of an average 26-year-old. It's proof that beets and/or beet juice may actually reverse brain aging. How's that for health food?
According to the report, researchers think that these benefits are due to the high amount of nitrate found in beet juice. This compound is eventually converted to nitric oxide in the blood, which helps relax blood vessels, bring more oxygen to the brain, thus boosting its functionality. They think that this nitrate to nitric-oxide conversion is expedited in low-oxygen environments (like during aerobic exercise). This could explain why beet juice shows such astounding brain benefits specifically when it's paired with a workout. So take this as your PSA: Drink a shot of beet juice before your morning jog; it could lead to "enhanced neuroplasticity." Who doesn't want that?