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Your mental arithmetic improves after a bottle of beet root

Supplementation with beetroot juice - and probably also other sources of nitrate and nitrite - makes you a little cleverer. Ninety minutes after intake, if you're repeatedly given sums to do in your head, you'll make significantly fewer mistakes. That's because, nutritionists at Northumbria University discovered, beetroot juice boosts the blood supply to the brain during mental gymnastics.


The researchers got 40 students to do easy and more complex mental arithmetic sums for 54 minutes non-stop. Half of the participants drank 450 ml concentrated beetroot juice 90 minutes before starting the test. The researchers used - of course, we almost want to add - Beet It made by James White Drinks.

Your mental arithmetic improves after a bottle of beet root
Beet It is popular with researchers. Here and here you'll find other studies in which Beet It was used. By the way, the manufacturer of Beet It didn't fund the study.

The other half of the participants were given a placebo.

After drinking the beetroot juice the concentration of nitrite [curve with the black circles] rose in the blood of the participants in the beetroot group.

Your mental arithmetic improves after a bottle of beet root

The participants in the beetroot group [black bar] made fewer mistakes with the more complex sums than the participants in the control group.

Near-infrared spectroscopy revealed that as a result of the beetroot juice the blood supply to the brain started to fluctuate more. When the participants were doing the easier sums the researchers saw there was less haemoglobin in the brain, but when the participants did the more difficult sums the haemoglobin concentration rose.

"These results suggest that a single dose of dietary nitrate can modify brain function, and that this is likely to be as a result of increased NO synthesis leading to an exaggerated neurovascular response to activity or improved efficiency of cellular metabolism", the researchers wrote.

"The findings here suggest that supplementation with dietary nitrate can directly modulate important physiological aspects of brain function and improve performance on a cognitive task that is intrinsically related to prefrontal cortex function."

Physiol Behav. 2015 Oct 1;149:149-58.

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Performance-enhancing effect of nitrates still present 24 hours after intake 22.02.2017

Beet Root

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