Planning a trip to a high altitude location? According to a study published in Science Direct, you might want to pack some beet juice. Researchers found that beet juice may help increase blood vessel function at high altitudes (higher than 8,000 feet above sea level) by supplying the body with an alternative source of nitrates, which facilitate the flow of oxygen throughout the body. The double-blind study randomly assigned 11 healthy men and women, aged 20 to 30, to receive either nitrate-rich beet juice (containing 5.0 mmol of nitrates) or a placebo (containing 0.003 mmol of nitrates) while trekking at high altitudes. Researchers measured the participants’ blood vessel function with the beet juice at high altitudes, and without the beet juice before, during, and after the four-week expedition (at low and high altitudes). Here's what they found:
At high altitudes—between 3,700 meters and 4,200 meters (about 12,140 and 13,780 feet, respectively)—all participants had reduced blood vessel function compared with blood vessel function at lower altitudes.
However, three hours after receiving the beet juice, when the participants were still at high altitudes, those who received the beet juice experienced blood vessel function that was restored to normal levels—similar to levels before the trek—compared with participants receiving a placebo.
This study's findings suggest that beet juice may reduce the amount of time it takes for climbers’ bodies to acclimate to high altitudes. Acclimation lowers the risk of altitude sickness, an illness caused by the low oxygen levels at high altitudes, which can cause a host of uncomfortable symptoms such as headaches and nausea. So, while climbing a mountain will still be difficult, beet juice may help you feel better at the top.
Source: Science Direct