Image Credit: Markus Spiske / Unsplash. This image has been modified.

Best Foods for COPD and Peripheral Artery Disease

It’s great we can improve athletic performance by eating a few beets, but so what if you run 5% faster? It can be a fun experiment to eat a can of beets and maybe shave a minute off your 5k time, but there are people who could really benefit from a more efficient use of oxygen: those suffering from emphysema. Young, healthy adults eating greens and beets can swim, run, and cycle faster and farther, but what about those who get out of breath just walking up the stairs? Do nitrate-rich vegetables work where it counts? Yes–. Time on the treadmill in COPD pateints was significantly extended after two shots of beet juice. I discuss these benefits of nitrate-rich vegetables in my video Oxygenating Blood with Nitrate-Rich Vegetables.

Beet juice can also decrease blood pressure in young, healthy adults, but what about in those who need it––older, overweight subjects? Just one shot a day of beet juice (versus berry juice as a control) led to a significant drop in blood pressure in a few weeks. But within just a few days after stopping three weeks of beeting themselves up, blood pressure went back up. So we have to eat our vegetables and keep eating our vegetables.

Why did it take until 2015 to publish a study on using nitrates to lower blood pressure in people with high blood pressure? You’d think that’d be the first group to try it on. Who’s going to fund it, though—Big Beet? Blood pressure medications rake in more than $10 billion a year. You can’t make billions on beets.

But that’s why we have charities like the British Heart Foundation, which funded a study to give folks with high blood pressure a cup of beet juice a day for four weeks. After all, high blood pressure may be the number-one risk factor for premature death in the world. In ten years, it could affect nearly one in three adults on the planet. But put them on beet juice and blood pressures dropped and kept dropping until they stopped drinking it after a month. With so many people with high blood pressure even despite treatment, the researchers concluded, “an additional strategy, based on the intake of nitrate-rich vegetables, may prove to be both cost-effective, affordable, and favorable for a public health approach to hypertension.”

What about those with peripheral artery disease? There are tens of millions of people with atherosclerotic clogs impairing blood flow to their legs. This can cause a cramping pain in the calves called claudication, due to lack of blood flow through the blocked arteries, severely limiting one’s ability to even just walk around. But when they simply drink some beet juice, they can walk 18% longer. Researchers measured the actual oxygenation of blood within the calf muscle and found that patients were able to maintain more oxygen in their muscles after drinking beet juice.

The nitric oxide from vegetable nitrates not only improves oxygen efficiency but also oxygen delivery by vasodilating blood vessels—opening up arteries—so there’s more blood flow. I’m surprised beet juice companies aren’t trying to position themselves as veggie Viagra! It could certainly explain why those eating more veggies have such improved sexual function, though that study was a snapshot in time so technically you can’t tell whether eating veggies resulted in improved sexual function or improved sexual function led to eating more veggies. However, it seems more reasonable that low fruit and vegetable consumption contributes to erectile dysfunction, rather than the other way around.

What about the most important organ… the brain? Poor cerebral perfusion—lack of blood flow and oxygen in the brain––is associated with cognitive decline and dementia. Researchers showed that the nitrate in vegetables may be beneficial in treating age-related cognitive decline. They showed a direct effect of dietary nitrate on cerebral blood flow within the frontal lobes, the areas particularly compromised by aging. This is a critical brain area for so-called executive function, the basic task and problem solving important for day-to-day functioning. The nitrite from nitrate has been shown to not only increase blood flow to certain areas of the body but also to act preferentially in low oxygen conditions, allowing it to increase blood flow precisely in the areas where it is needed most, and that’s what they found in the brain: increased blood flow to the at-risk areas of the aging brain. The only side effect of beeting your brains out? A little extra color in your life (they noted some of the study subjects started peeing pink).


Nitrates are one of the reasons I recommend eating dark green leafy vegetables every day. See Slowing Our Metabolism with Nitrate-Rich Vegetables and “Veg-Table” Dietary Nitrate Scoring Method. Beets are another good option and not just drinking the juice; take a look at Whole Beets vs. Juice for Improving Athletic Performance.

What else can we do for high blood pressure? See the following videos:

Why is blood flow to the brain so important? I go into depth on the potential consequences in Alzheimer’s and Atherosclerosis of the Brain.

More on diet and pelvic blood flow in men can be found in:

In health,

Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


12 responses to “Best Foods for COPD and Peripheral Artery Disease

Comment Etiquette

On NutritionFacts.org, you'll find a vibrant community of nutrition enthusiasts, health professionals, and many knowledgeable users seeking to discover the healthiest diet to eat for themselves and their families. As always, our goal is to foster conversations that are insightful, engaging, and most of all, helpful – from the nutrition beginners to the experts in our community.

To do this we need your help, so here are some basic guidelines to get you started.

The Short List

To help maintain and foster a welcoming atmosphere in our comments, please refrain from rude comments, name-calling, and responding to posts that break the rules (see our full Community Guidelines for more details). We will remove any posts in violation of our rules when we see it, which will, unfortunately, include any nicer comments that may have been made in response.

Be respectful and help out our staff and volunteer health supporters by actively not replying to comments that are breaking the rules. Instead, please flag or report them by submitting a ticket to our help desk. NutritionFacts.org is made up of an incredible staff and many dedicated volunteers that work hard to ensure that the comments section runs smoothly and we spend a great deal of time reading comments from our community members.

Have a correction or suggestion for video or blog? Please contact us to let us know. Submitting a correction this way will result in a quicker fix than commenting on a thread with a suggestion or correction.

View the Full Community Guidelines

  1. Nice article thanks for providing it.

    I assume to more nefarious docs amongst us, COPD is the veritable cash cow.
    How many drug and various sundry treatments procedures and diagnostic tests will lie in wait for such a patient?

    Beets? Beets?
    We will have none of that. Nor will we have a to do with anything that may actually reverse that thing. Why would we want that?
    Judging people or a profession not by its rhetoric but its actions is a rarely engaged in thing to my opinion..




    1
  2. “Beets? Beets? We will have none of that. Nor will we have a to do with anything that may actually reverse that thing. Why would we want that?”

    OR…….. we could by the super duper late nite infomercial fantastic newly discovered beet root powder.. guaranteed to have the “essence” of 10,000 beets in every tablespoon full… ugh

    I really appreciate the fact that Dr G “cherry picks” his information.. He cherry picks
    THE SCIENCE. He admits it when he explains the purpose of this web site. Wouldn’t that be refreshing if you went on other quasi nutrition/medically backed web sites and they stated that they were there to make money off of you?? Or not… That the studies they quote are backed by the company or group that would financially gain from the study. I would see that all the time when I worked in hospitals. A doctor would use a certain item b/c he gets thrown a few extra bucks from the MFG for using it… Not because it was a better item… grrrrrr Is that a kick back?? or good business practice..
    BTW I love my beet juice with some carrot juice and a splash of lo sodium tomato juice…yum.
    mitch




    1
    1. I like arugula. Beets seem to go bad to quickly.
      Don’t trust the packaged beet juices nor would I afford them. Make my own, I guess but like growing my own broccoli sprouts that is never going to happen..I must be realistic with myself ;)




      2
  3. Dr. G mentions a “shot” of beet juice and then mentions drinking “some” so how much exactly should you drink a day to lower high blood pressure?




    1
      1. Thank you, StevenI guess it makes sense since I doubt you can overdose on beet juice.  I have found one that is organic (Lakewood) and not made from concentrate but with some added lemon juice for flavor.  I will experiment.




        0
    1. You asked about what form the beets mentioned in the studies were. Most of the studies mentioned beet JUICE (and I assume for consistency and convenience researchers used bottled juice) However, one study Dr. Greger cited did state “Whole beetroot consumption acutely improves running performance” and the source for that study indicated the beets were baked. That makes sense because raw beet can be quite hard and difficult for many to eat unless they are grated or chopped finely and often added just as a colorful ingredient to a salad or entree, not as an entree by itself.
      Hope that helps.




      0
  4. First, please always have an inhaler with you. Nothing else will be as effective and not seeking medical help could cost you your life. I have asthma and COPD, caused by smoking. I use an inhaler 1 to 2 times a day; when feeling wheezy and coughing more than usual. My father came across a forum where so people was writing about (Best Health Herbal Centre). They sell herbs supplements for different kinds of deadly diseases, so me and my family decided to give it a try. We contacted Dr linda (Best Health Herbal Centre) immediately and purchased herbal remedy for Asthma and COPD. I used the herbal remedy as instructed and It totally reversed my Asthma and COPD within 6 weeks of usage, all thanks to Best health Herbal Centre.




    0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This