Beets were featured in the October issue of Sports Illustrated magazine, but not for their well-researched ability to improve by 15% athletic performance.
Instead, the vasodilating powers of beets were being used to increase nutrient delivery and to diminish the negative effects of jet lag on performance and muscle recovery for NBA teams that were often traveling and cloudbound.
From Sports Illustrated:
When players lose sleep, Winter says, the body doesn’t produce the normal amount of natural growth hormone, which aids in recovery. That’s why Dave Ellis, a dietitian who has worked in sports for more than 30 years, recommends beets and leafy greens that are potent nitric-oxide producers, which he says “helps muscles get an oxygen-rich and nutrient-rich bloody supply.According to WebMD, jet lag is caused by two bad things working in tandem: a disruption of natural circadian rhythms and less oxygen in the bloodstream due to the lower cabin pressure.
A study at Exeter University in 2009 found dietary nitrate in beet juice leads to a reduction in oxygen uptake and allows people to do more exercise and activity with less oxygen.
Theoretically, dietary nitrate may ease one of the effects of jet lag through the same process. So the next time you fly the friendly skies, be like many current NBA players and drink your beet juice before or while you travel.
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