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Beetroot juice supplementation for the prevention of cold symptoms associated with stress: A proof-of-concept study

Ritz, Thomas, Werchan, Chelsey A., Kroll, Juliet L., Rosenfield, David
Physiology & behavior 2019 v.202 pp. 45-51
asthma, beets, cold, common cold, epithelium, juices, nitrates, nitric oxide, pathogens, psychological stress, questionnaires, students
Psychological stress has been linked to common cold symptoms. Nitric oxide (NO) is part of the first line of epithelial defense against pathogens, and beetroot juice is a source of dietary nitrate that increases NO availability. We therefore tested whether beetroot juice protects against cold symptoms in a period of sustained acute stress.Seventy-six students, 16 of these with asthma, were randomly assigned to seven daily doses of beetroot juice or no supplementation control during their final exams.Participants completed stress ratings, a cold symptom questionnaire, and exhaled NO measurements at a low-stress period and two periods during their final exams, with one questionnaire follow-up assessment seven days after finals.Beetroot juice was associated with reduced symptoms of cold and sickness during and following finals. Those with asthma showed the greatest benefits. Higher exhaled NO was concurrently and prospectively associated with reduced symptomatology.Beetroot juice during periods of psychological stress protects against cold symptoms. Preliminary evidence suggests particular benefits in asthma, which could translate into reduced asthma exacerbations due to respiratory infections.Clinical Trial ID: NCT03159273