The World Championships are over and all the talk of doping has gone quite for a little while.  Athletes will always look at ways to improve performance, mostly these are within legal limits, but their aim is performance enhancing.

We all try at times to improve our performance.  Coffee helps us wake up, Red Bull gives energy and in the herbal world, plants such as Ginseng, Ashwaghanda and Astragalus all help to build endurance.

Foods can also help.  We all need food for energy, but in terms of athletic performance some foods are better than others.  One of these is beetroot.

Plant Signatures

In Herbalism we have, what is called “The Plant Signature”.  This means, that through subtle cues the plant sometimes indicates what it might be used for.  Can you think what beetroot may be for?  Think about it, dark red in colour?

Beet juice boosts muscle strength in heart patients

Yes, you got it!  In Chinese medicine we say that beetroot nourishes the blood.  A recent study has found it does a bit more than that.  The small study has found that beet juice may help boost muscle strength among heart patients.   Participants were given a concentrated beet juice and two hours later saw improvements in muscle power.

Beet root has high concentrations of nitrates.  These nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in the body, which relaxes the blood vessels and improves metabolism.  Andrew R Coggan, Assistant Professor of Radiology at Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis said “The magnitude of this improvement is comparable to that seen in heart failure patients who have done two to three months of resistance training.”

Beet juice for athletic performance

This is not really news for athletes who have been using beet juice to boost their athletic performance for some time.  There are many studies showing how beet juice can boost performance from enhanced sprint performance; cognitive improvement on prolonged sports to reducing the oxygen cost of exercise and enhancing exercise tolerance.

Health stores are now selling beet juice shots, but you can easily make this yourself with good quality beets.  A word of warning though, any food in excess can throw the body out of balance and we are all different.  If you are thinking of a nutrition programme to boost your chosen exercise talk to us at Fresh Perceptions Health.  We will work with you to find a healthy addition to your exercise programme, based on diet, herbal solutions and common sense.


  1. Effects of dietary nitrate supplementation on the oxygen cost of exercise and walking performance in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial. Free Radic Biol Med 2015 Sept. Gilchrist et al.
  2. Acute Dietary Nitrate Intake Improves Muscle Contractile Function in Patients With Heart Failure: A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Randomized Trial. Circ Heart Fail 2015 Sept.8 Coggan et al.
  3. Dietary nitrate improves sprint performance and cognitive function during prolonged intermittentexercise. Eur J Appl. Physiol 2015 Sep.115, Thompson et al.

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