Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Beetroot Juice Helps High Blood Pressure

A novel study has been performed in the UK that may explain the beneficial effects of certain foods on the cardiovascular system. The study involves beet juice for lowering blood pressure.

In the study, people who drank 500ml of beet juice daily experienced significantly lower blood pressure within one hour of ingestion. The lowest blood pressure was seen 2.5 hours after drinking beet juice, and it stayed that way for twenty four hours.

We already know that foods rich with inorganic nitrates benefit the heart. People who are placed on fruit and vegetable diets show improvement in cardiovascular health, but the mechanism isn't completely understood. Previous research has tied the benefits to the antioxidant effect of fruits and vegetables, yet studies cannot reproduce this with antioxidant supplements. Antioxidant supplements have even been shown be harmful in recent large studies.

Researchers, Dr. Andrew Webb and colleagues, from Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, UK may have discovered how this works.

Nitric oxide (NO) has been exhaustively researched as it relates to vascular health. Viagra works on this very premise. Viagra regulates the blood vessels by making them relax. It increases the availability of nitric oxide, enhancing penile blood flow. Another example is Nitroglycerin, used to treat angina. Nitroglycerin relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Several pharmaceuticals rely on this premise for disease management.

Dr Amrita Ahluwalia, (Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry), has noted recent studies. Nitric oxide may not just produce waste as previously thought, so it was decided to test this theory further. Higher levels of circulating nitrites and nitrates were measureable after consuming beet juice.

A very interesting piece of the study includes the way saliva acts to concentrate nitrates. Participants in the study who spit out their saliva did not experience lower blood pressures. Apparently, bacteria on the back of the tongue provide a nifty service by converting nitrate to nitrite. The process seems to go on for hours. This effect was measured by having some of the group spit out their saliva for a period of three hours. The effect of lower blood pressure was not seen.

We've come to a likely conclusion - consuming nitrate rich foods may very well play a role in blood pressure management through the chemical reduction of nitrite to nitrous oxide.

Though the study was done with people who had normal blood pressure, the authors feel the results should be even more impressive in the presence of hypertension.

Their proposal includes incorporating beetroot juice as an adjunct for controlling high blood pressure - sans spitting. It makes sense to me!


Flu Shots for Elders

Previous studies have shown that perhaps senior citizens are not well protected by standard flu shots, even though elders are highly targeted as recipients. Studies have been ongoing regarding the aging immune response.

The drug manufacturer, Sanofi has produced a vaccine for senior citizens with a new type of flu shot, and so far the results are excellent. The new vaccine has shown superior immune response against all strains of flu.

The injection is delivered just below the skin and the vaccine is readily delivered to an area that is rich in immune cells.

So far, 7000 trials have been conducted, and Sanofi is seeking European approval of the new vaccine.

This is good news considering the annual death toll from influenza, especially among senior citizens.

Related Article:
Are Flu Shots Beneficial to Elders?