Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that disrupt the normal functioning of neurons. Could a common vegetal pigment provide the fix?
Researchers from the University of South Florida in Tampa have experimented with a compound called betanin, which is the pigment that give beets their dark red color. Li-Lune Ming, Darrell Cole Cerrato, and their colleagues explain that this vegetal pigment interacts with amyloid beta, preventing some of the processes that may have harmful effects on the brain. The results of the team’s research were presented this week at the 255th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society, held in New Orleans, LA.
A study published last year in The Journals of Gerontology Series A showed that drinking beetroot juice before aerobic exercise made the aging brain look younger by increasing blood flow to the brain and regulating the circulation of oxygen.
Intrigued by this and similar research, Ming and team decided to see whether betanin, commonly found in these root vegetables, could be used to prevent amyloid beta from forming into clusters that impacted communication between brain cells.
Studies show that the aggregation of amyloid beta into harmful clusters is often dependent on their interaction with metal molecules – especially those of zinc and copper – in the brain. When such clusters do form, the researchers of the new study explain, amyloid beta facilitates brain inflammation and the oxidation of neurons, which results in irreparable damage to these brain cells.
They conducted a series of laboratory experiments in which they monitored the activity of amyloid beta in different contexts using 3, 5-Di-tert-butylcatechol (DTBC), a compound that allows researchers to observe the process of oxidation. By employing ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometry, the researchers saw that amyloid beta on its own did not produce much oxidative damage – but when it bound to copper molecules, the oxidation was considerable.
“Our data suggest that betanin, a compound in beet extract, shows some promise as an inhibitor of certain chemical reactions in the brain that are involved in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Ming.
Of course the article goes on to say the whole purpose is to develop drugs from this research. My advice – eat beets.
I take an organic beet root supplement twice daily in addition to eating beets on a regular basis. Betanin triggers dilation of the common bile duct when the taste sensors of the tongue detect its presence. This effect occurs within a minute or two, sometimes sooner, providing immediate relief from some forms of indigestion. However, with long term use, betanin also thins the bile. Based on this research I suspect it binds to heavy metals in the gallbladder as it appears to do in the brain.
Recent research suggests that toxins in our environment unbind zinc and copper in the nervous system contributing to amyloid plaque clusters. Both DDT and Round-up have been implicated in this process.
The Bottom Line:
Beets are a very healthy root vegetable that should be in your diet. For those with insulin resistance, the glycemic index is a little high, so you must eat them sparingly and avoid drinking the juice. Do not bother with canned or boiled beets as the betanin has been denatured. I will continue to take four Betafood per day to keep my bile flowing freely and just maybe it will help prevent Alzheimer’s disease as well.
Source: March 22, 2018 National Institutes of Health