With its sweet, earthy taste and ruby-red interior, beetroot is a favorite of foodies, but there’s far more to it than that.
We explain how the secret weapon of sports stars increases fitness and can help stave off cancer…
HALE AND HEARTY
The majority of beetroot’s benefits stem from the unusually high levels of nitrates it contains – gram for gram it possesses about 20 times more than most other vegetables.
Nitrates have suffered a bad reputation because of their use as a food additive.
Animal experiments had linked their commercial use to cancer and in the Sixties the World Health Organisation set upper limits on their use. However, recent studies have shown that nitrates in beetroot lower blood pressure.
A 2010 study carried out by Queen Mary’s University in London found that drinking just one 250ml glass of beetroot juice a day dramatically lowered blood pressure for several hours.
It also found that the higher the blood pressure, the greater the drop observed.
A new study carried out by the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia, found that a 500ml glass of the juice led to a significant drop in blood pressure after six hours. If beetroot juice was consumed widely, researchers say we could see a ten per cent reduction in death from cardiovascular disease.
Nitrates lower blood pressure because bacteria in the mouth and gut convert it into the gas nitric oxide, which relaxes and widens the blood vessels, allowing blood to circulate more freely.
Studies carried out by the University of Exeter have shown that nitrates not only lower blood pressure but improve stamina too.
A 2010 study found that adults who drank 500ml of the juice a day could exercise 16 per cent longer than those given a drink supplement with nitrates removed.
‘Nitrates work in synergy with the other antioxidants that beetroot contains to reduce the oxygen needed by muscles,’ says Stephen Bailey, who worked on the study. ‘This enables them to work more efficiently and slows fatigue.’
Indeed, disabled athlete David Weir put some of his gold medal-winning success at the London Paralympics last summer down to a regular intake of beetroot juice. England rugby player Ben Foden as well as marathon runner Helen Davies also rate the drink as a great endurance booster.
A 2011 study carried out by Wake Forest University in North Carolina found beetroot may slow the progression of dementia.
It is thought this is because nitric oxide boosts blood flow to the brain. Beetroot’s high folic acid content – approximately 75 per cent of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) in just two or three small beetroots – may also play a role as previous research has suggested the nutrient protects against Alzheimer’s.
Betacyanin, the pigment that gives beetroot its rich hue, is a powerful antioxidant that has been shown to possess anti-cancer properties.
In 2011, a study carried out by Howard University in Washington, USA, found that betacyanin slowed tumour growth by 12.5 per cent when exposed to prostate and breast cancer cells.
More research needs to be carried out to see if consuming beetroot would have a similar anti-cancer effect.
HIGH IN FIBER
Nutritional therapist Dr Elisabeth Philipps recommends the vegetable for digestive troubles.
‘Beetroot is high in fibre and a 100g portion – about two or three small beetroot – contains ten per cent of your RDA, which helps regulate bowel movements,’ she says.
‘It also contains a substance called betaine which normalises stomach acid secretion.’
The compound increases acid levels in the stomach if you do not have enough and acts as an antacid if you are producing too much. ‘Beetroot supports the liver too,’ she adds.
‘Antioxidants vulgaxanthin, betalain and betanin promote the production of glutathione, a substance that helps the liver process toxins.’
IN THE PINK
Between ten and 14 per cent of the population experience the phenomenon known as beeturia – when the urine turns pink – after eating beetroot. It usually occurs when a person consumes a large quantity.
‘It isn’t fully understood why this occurs although it has been linked to anaemia,’ says Dr Philipps. ‘If your urine only changes in colour when you eat beetroot, it is nothing to be concerned about.’
dailyalternative | alternative news – Unbeetable: The Humble Root Which Fights Cancer, Boosts Endurance & Lowers Blood Pressure
Google Now Has Access To Millions of Patients’ Medical Records
A controversial deal between tech giant Google and the National Health Service (NHS) will allow artificial intelligence units access to 1.6 million confidential medical records. Since 2014, Google has partnered with several scientists in an attempt to understand human health, but a new report reveals the data gathering goes far beyond what was originally anticipated.
According to documents obtained by the New Scientist, the data sharing agreement between Google-owned artificial intelligence company DeepMind and the Royal Free NHS Trust gives access to the sensitive healthcare data of millions of NHS patients. The chilling and wide-reaching deal allows DeepMind access to the medical records of the 1.6 million people passing annually through the three London hospitals owned by the Trust — Barnet, Chase Farm, and the Royal Free.
The Google-owned A.I. firm announced in February it was working with the NHS to build an app called Streams — intended to help hospitals monitor patients with kidney disease. However, the new information has revealed that the extent of the data being shared goes much further and includes logs of day-to-day hospital activity, records of the location and status of patients, and even logs of who visits them and when.
Results of pathology and radiology tests are also shared, as is information from critical care and accident and emergency departments. In addition, DeepMind’s access to the centralised records of all NHS hospital treatments in the U.K. means the tech company can access historical data from the last five years, all while receiving a continuous stream of new data.
At the same time, DeepMind is developing a platform called Patient Rescue, which uses hospital data streams to build tools to carry out analysis and support diagnostic decisions. The New Scientist explained how it works:
Comparing a new patient’s information with millions of other cases, Patient Rescue might be able to predict that they are in the early stages of a disease that has not yet become symptomatic, for example. Doctors could then run tests to see if the prediction is correct.
While the Royal Free has not yet responded to the question of what — if any — opt-out mechanisms are available to patients, the New Scientist suggests this is unlikely to be a straightforward process. Despite the agreement stating Google cannot use the data in any other part of the company’s business, many will be seriously wary of the access the online tech giant now has to the confidential data of millions of people.
As the New Scientist wrote:
Data mining is the name of the game in the burgeoning field of machine learning and artificial intelligence, and there’s no company in the world better at that than Google.
daily alternative | alternative news – Google Now Has Access To Millions of Patients’ Medical Records
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