Move over, mouthwash. It’s beetroot juice time.
The bacteria in our mouth and gut help convert inorganic nitrates found in vegetables into nitric oxide, a gas crucial to our cardiovascular and cognitive well-being.
A new study by scientists in the United Kingdom found drinking beetroot juice, which is rich in inorganic nitrates, can promote the growth of beneficial oral bacteria in older people. These bacteria have shown promising results in reducing deteriorations in heart and brain health that are associated with the aging process.
Beetroot juice already has been touted for helping to lower blood pressure in those diagnosed with hypertension. This study sheds light on the mechanics behind those benefits.
The bacteria in our gut, referred to as our gut microbiota, are well known for their ability to affect our overall health and well-being in a variety of ways. But the role of bacteria in our mouths remains less understood, especially when it comes to producing nitric oxide.
In seniors, low levels of nitric oxide can lead to high blood pressure and a decline in cognitive function. The study found drinking beetroot juice can change the mouth’s bacterial balance, which can help enhance heart and brain health. Participants who drank beetroot juice not only saw their blood pressure drop, they also performed better on tests that required sustained focus.
Two clusters of oral bacteria that flourished upon introduction of the juice may hold promise as probiotics.
Although further research is needed to better understand the subtle mechanisms behind these benefits, it’s clear this juice is hard to, ahem, beet.