Bournemouth University: New trial to explore if beetroot can help people with diabetes

A team of researchers are looking for people in the south of England with Type 2 diabetes to take part in a new clinical trial to see if drinking beetroot juice can improve their condition.

The research team, led by Bournemouth University and the University of Portsmouth, aims to explore the potential benefits of nitrate-rich foods such as beetroot.

“Animal studies have shown us that nitrates can turn white fat storage cells into useful brown fat cells,” explained Dr Rebecca Neal at Bournemouth University who is organising the study.

This picture contains an image of a beetroot sliced in half
“But the possibility of using nitrate, such as that contained in beetroot, to convert white to brown fat cells in humans has not yet been explored. Brown fat is burned more easily and could lead to small amounts of weight loss and improved type 2 diabetes outcomes over time,” she continued.

Participants in the trial will be asked to drink half a glass juice every day for two separate periods of fourteen days. For one period this will be beetroot juice, for the other it will be a placebo that tastes the same; this will be allocated randomly and people will not know which they are drinking.

After each two-week period, they will visit Bournemouth University’s research facilities for an MRI scan to see how much brown fat is in their bodies. The Bournemouth researchers will also use a thermal imaging camera to see how active that brown fat is. Participants will also provide blood samples for analysis in a laboratory.

According to Diabetes UK, more than 4.9 million people in the UK have diabetes and treatment costs the NHS £10 billion a year. These numbers are expected to keep increasing.

“If this trial is successful, it could pave the way for larger studies into how this novel approach could help patients manage their disease and save the NHS money,” Dr Neal said. “Our hope is to show that beetroot juice could be a low-cost, non-invasive alternative to drug treatment, leading to a better quality of life for people with type two diabetes.” She concluded.