Acupuncture (703) 815-1870


You can’t beat beets


After years of being relegated to the recesses of the salad bar buffet

next to the shredded cheese and buttered croutons, beets are enjoying

their much-deserved place at the center stage of a healthy diet.

They’re not only chock-full of essential everyday nutrients like

vitamins, iron, manganese, copper, magnesium, and potassium,

these ruby gems also are a goldmine of health-boosting nutrients

that you may not get anywhere else. Here are some great

—and surprising—things that happen to your body when you eat beets.



pressure improves


are rich in nitrates, which the body converts to nitric oxide—

a compound that relaxes and dilates blood vessels, turning them into

superhighways for your nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood.

That means better circulation, and possibly lower blood pressure.

A very small study from 2012 found that 13 men who drank

just one glass of beet juice temporarily lowered their systolic blood

pressure by an average of 4 to 5 points. (Note: the study was funded

by a beet juice manufacturer.) Another study published in

Hypertension in 2008 (which didn’t receive funding from beet-juice

makers) found that folks who drank the red root juice had a 10 mm Hg 

drop in blood pressure and less blood clotting three hours later,

compared to those who drank water.


Your heart disease risk may drop


don’t just have an potentially positive impact on your blood pressure.

They are also rich in a plant alkaloid called betaine, as well as

the B-vitamin folate, which together deliver a one-two punch for lowering

blood levels of homocysteine, which in high levels increases your risk

for artery damage and heart disease.



You may improve your stamina


When elite athletes pee in a cup for a drug test, the color

might be crimson. Why? Because lots of athletes eat beets—

they know research has suggested that nitrates boost endurance

 performance—and beets contain pigments that turn urine pink.

In one study, cyclists who drank beet juice could pedal hard 15%

longer in a time trial to exhaustion. It takes about three to five beets

(depending on their size, which varies widely) to get a performance

boost, says study author Andy Jones, PhD, dean of research in

the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter.

“Peak nitrate levels occur two to three hours after you eat or

drink them,” he says. So time your intake accordingly if your want

to crush your 5K PR.




Your brain may work better


Nitric oxide relaxes and dilates your blood vessels,

which in turn increases blood flow to the brain—

which could bring on better brain function. That’s particularly

important as we age, as research finds that our capacity to

generate nitric oxide diminishes as we get older, along with

our brain’s energy metabolism and neuron activity.

So give your brain a boost with beets. In one small 2010 study,

14 older men and women (average age of 74) who ate a

high-nitrate diet, including beet juice, for two days enjoyed

more blood flow to the frontal lobe of their brains—a region

known to be involved with executive functioning skills like focus,

organization, and attention to detail—than when they ate

a low-nitrate diet.



Your liver will be lighter


Your liver does the heavy work of cleaning your blood and

“detoxing” your body. You can lighten its load with a daily

serving of beets. Research shows that betaine, an amino acid

found in beets (as well as spinach and quinoa) can help prevent

and reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver. Animal studies

show that rats given beet juice have higher levels of detoxifying

enzymes in their bloodstream. Research on people with diabetes

shows that betaine improves liver function, slightly decreases

cholesterol, and reduces liver size.

You may be better at fighting chronic diseases


Beets are also rich in betalains, a class of potent antioxidants and

anti-inflammatories that battle free radical- and inflammation-related

chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and possibly cancer.

Speaking of cancer, research suggests that betacyanin,

the pigment that gives beets its pretty purple hue may help

protect against common carcinogens; it has also shown

promise against laboratory-grown breast cancer cells and

is currently being investigated as a cancer-fighter.



you become regular


“One way to beat irregularity and constipation is by eating

fiber-rich foods like beets,” says Leslie Bonci, RD,

sports nutritionist at Pittsburgh-based company Active Eating Advice.

One cup of beets delivers about 4 grams of dietary fiber,

particularly insoluble fiber, which helps reduce the risk of

constipation, hemorrhoids, and diverticulitis. The betaine found in

beets has also been shown to improve digestion. Just take note,

your pee isn’t the only thing beets turn pink. Don’t be alarmed

if you see crimson-colored stools 24 to 72 hours following a meal

heavy in beets.


Balance your GABA levels

Balance your GABA levels to reduce your risk for many physical and mental health disorders


There are so many things in life that can make people stressed.

Fortunately, the body has its own way of coping with the pressure of everyday life.

Gamma-AminoButyric Acid (GABA) is an amino acid that also functions as a

neurotransmitter, and one of the most important ones at that.

It is derived from glutamate, a neurotransmitter produced from glucose

metabolism in the brain. These neurotransmitters are used by the brain cells

communicate with each other. The specific role of GABA is to slow down brain activity

by preventing nerve impulses from firing. This induces feelings of relaxation and

calmness that people who are under a lot of stress yearn for. Moreover, GABA is also

involved in other brain functions, such as vision, sleep, cognition, and motor control.

The role of GABA in maintaining brain health is tightly linked with glutamate activity.

These neurotransmitters work in completely opposite ways. GABA is inhibitory,

whereas glutamate triggers the firing of nerve impulses, thereby accelerating brain

activity. You can think of them as the gas and brake pedals of the car, which are used to

regulate speed. It is important to maintain the balance between these neurotransmitters

to prevent drastic effects on mental health.

There is a higher chance that a person suffers from GABA deficiency since more than

86 percent of the general population have low neurotransmitter levels.

People who do not have sufficient levels of this neurotransmitter are at a higher risk

for anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, insomnia, meningitis, migraines, colorectal cancer,

inflammatory bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease.

There is actually no reliable way of measuring GABA. However, there are different

symptoms that indicate deficiency. These include the following:

  • Unexplained feelings of dread
  • Preoccupation with negative thoughts (especially at night)
  • Disorganization
  • Increased intake of carbohydrate-rich foods
  • Reliance on drugs or alcohol

Most cases of GABA deficiency can be blamed on a person’s lifestyle. According to Dr. Datis

Kharrazian, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, the main reasons for GABA

dysfunction are excessive amounts of stress and caffeine, lack of sleep, and gluten

intolerance. Gut bacteria also play a role in producing GABA so when there are more

bad bacteria than the good, they produce less of the neurotransmitter. Moreover,

vitamin B6 deficiency and autoimmune disorders that react to glutamic acid

decarboxylase (GAD) also inhibit the conversion of GABA from glutamate.

Increasing GABA levelsSince most people are likely to suffer from GABA deficiency,

it is important to know how this can be increased. The most common ways to do

so are by taking supplements or eating GABA-rich foods. It is common to find GABA

supplements on the market. However, most of these contain synthetic forms of the

neurotransmitter that are not sure to work. This is because of the presence of

the blood-brain barrier, which keeps foreign substances away from the brain.

Moreover, GABA supplements can also cause side effects like headaches,

sleepiness, and muscle weakness. Natural products are therefore a more effective

means of increasing GABA levels. Some foods that are rich in this brain chemical

include the following:

  • Barley
  • Beans
  • Brown rice
  • Chestnuts
  • Corn
  • Kale
  • Probiotic foods (such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut)
  • Spinach
  • Sprouted grains

Any type of exercise can also be done to increase GABA levels. However, 

improvements are especially good for people who do yoga. Previous studies

have shown that a one-hour yoga session can increase GABA levels by up to

27 percent. For those who do not like physical exercises, they can also

meditation a try since this also improves the production of GABA, to a degree

similar to yoga.

GABA is a very important neurotransmitter that maintains not just mental health

but also physical health so it is important to take steps to make sure that you

have enough of it.