Intense exercise causes dehydration, a temporary decrease in immunity, and an increase in salivary acidity (pH). When athletes add acidic, high-carbohydrate drinks to this mix, high salivary acidity levels raise chances for oral disease. In this study, 11 trained male runners, average age 30, took, in alternating phases, a placebo drink, Powerade®, or nitrate-rich beet juice, one hour before, during, and after a 90-minute treadmill run.
As doctors expected, during the carbohydrate phase, salivary pH declined—became more acidic. But when athletes consumed a single dose of nitrate-rich beet juice prior to exercise, salivary pH did not decline. Doctors concluded nitrate-rich beet juice may protect oral health in athletes.