Mar 092013

beetsBetaine, also known as trimethylglycine (TMG), acts as a neural transporter and enhances our brain’s ability to maintain sufficient levels of the “feel good” hormones serotonin and dopamine. As I explained in another article on how to overcome depression this is what commercial anti-depressant drugs attempt to emulate.

The problem with the prescription drugs is their horrendous side effects. Rather than go that route it behooves us to enhance our mood naturally. In a series of articles on how to overcome depression naturally I have included a number of helpful tips.

These include:

  • Increasing our levels of magnesium, even using a topical supplement if necessary, as deficiency is widespread.
  • Taking a natural herb, St. John’s Wort for its historically and clinically proven results or natural     tryptophan supplements.
  • Consuming sufficient sulphur containing amino acids found mainly in eggs and meat, but other good sources include liver, cod liver oil, shell fish, fish eggs as well as butter and cream.
  • Avoiding aluminum cookware and artificial sweeteners like aspartame found in many soft drinks, as well as msg and dental mercury amalgams.
  • Using a supplement like zeolite or, alternatively, diatomaceous earth to chelate mercury out of our bodies. Global mercury pollution levels are frightening and impossible to avoid.
  • You needn’t train for a marathon, but you might be surprised how much regular exercise helps enhance mood!

In this article I want to introduce another simple, natural resource to the list of tips for fighting depression. Beets are not only a very good source of betaine they also have a host of other medicinal properties.

Much like sulphur containing amino acids and tryptophan, betaine acts as an agent in the neural transmission of serotonin and dopamine. It thus has the pleasant effects of a minor “mood enhancer,” which can bring positive change to a state of depression.

Although beets have an impressive history of medicinal use in many cultures, we seem to have lost sight of this in our ever increasing artificial attempts at health management. Beets and beet juice have been shown to be helpful in cancer therapies.

Even with up to 5% sugar content, this is so proportionally balanced with a host of minerals that beets are allowed to diabetics. The minerals include iron, copper, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, which is important to fight depression and important trace minerals.

Beets are also a good source of carotenes, B complex and vitamin C. They protect the liver and stimulate the flow of bile necessary for assimilation of the fat soluble vitamins, both of which are crucial in overcoming depression. Beets are considered blood restorative and strengthen the entire organism.

The most beneficial way to consume beets is by fermenting them. Then they also have very favorable, regenerative effects on disturbed cellular function. This is where they aid in cancer therapies. I explain some of the benefits of fermentation in another article.

I make a beet tonic fashioned after the traditional Ukrainian beet kvass, which I drink about 4 oz of everyday morning and night. It does wonder for my disposition as well as helping my digestion, cleaning my liver and alkalizing my blood. It is an excellent blood tonic which, also promotes regularity.

I also ferment beets, which makes a very tasty dish as well as increasing the vitamin content and making all the nutrients more bio available by producing powerful enzymes. Fermenting beets and making kvass is very simple.

For the kvass I don’t even peel the beets. I just brush them with a stiff veggie brush and coarsely chop up a couple of medium sized and put them in a mason jar. I throw in 1 1/2 tsp of sea salt and a couple Tbsp whey and fill it with filtered water to about an inch from the top.

I cover it tightly and leave it at room temperature for a couple of days. Then I refrigerate it and have it available every day. I keep a couple of jars going to accomplish this. When I finish one I just add 1 tsp of salt and fill it up with water again.

After the second round, I discard the beets into my compost heap and start another cycle. The fermented beets are not much different only I cook them first in a basket in a pressure cooker until they are soft. I punch a few small hole in them first so as not to make an explosive mess.

After peeling them I fill the mason jar with the beets cut into strips roughly 1/4 in thick, like julienne fries, leaving the same space at the top after gently pressing them down. I dissolve a Tbsp of sea salt in less than a cup total of water and 1/4 cup of whey to cover them, leaving an inch at the top of the jar.

After letting them ferment for about 3 days at room temperature I refrigerate them and they keep just about forever. They make a great addition to a multitude of meals and do wonders in helping digest and assimilate all kinds of nutrients, not to mention, fight depression.


Functional Characterization of the Betaine/g-Aminobutyric Acid Transporter BGT-1 Expressed in Xenopus Oocytes
Ioulia Matskevitch,Carsten A.Wagner,Carola Stegen,Stefan Broer,Birgitta Noll,Teut Risler,H.Moo Kwon,Joseph S. Handler,Siegfried Waldegger,Andreas E. Busch,and Florian Lang

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 Posted by at 5:17 pm

  14 Responses to “How To Overcome Depression: What Is Betaine?”

  1. Well I’m in luck on this one. i love beets in just about any form. Probably a dumb question but what does the whey do?Better yet what do you consider whey?

    • No, not a dumb question at all John. I make my own whey whenever I ferment milk to make yogurt or kefir. I use some to make cream cheese by hanging the yogurt or kefir in cheese cloth and letting the whey separate and drop out. Whey is a byproduct and full of friendly microbes as well as slightly acidic.

      The whey acts as an agent/starter to ferment the beets or whatever food you are fermenting. Its the same kind of process that goes on with sourdough starter. Just a little will infect (in a good way) the whole lot and get the process of fermentation going. The same as using yeast to brew beer or wine, if you will.

  2. Beets might be good for me, but I don’t care much for the taste. How can I get them ‘down the hatch’ without making my ugly face look even uglier?

    • Actually, Bill, I was the same way before I started fermenting some of my food. Up till that point I had pretty well lived my whole life beet free. When some of the health benefits of fermentation and of beets caught my attention, I said, “what the heck.” I was more than a little surprised at my first taste of fermented beets and pleasantly so, at that. It is a complex flavor as fermenting, like sourdough, gives a tasty sour savor. Only, in the case of beets, it also really highlights the sweetness from the sugar content.

  3. What do fermented beets taste like?

    • I never used to eat beets at all before I began fermenting them. I find the complex flavor with the sourness of fermentation and the highlighting of the sugar very appealing. I don’t much like the taste of cooked beets, but I am very fond of fermented beets. If, like myself, you like that sweet and sour taste, you would probably like fermented beets. I hope that helps Daniel.

  4. Well, I still don’t know if I could eat beets. I guess trying would not hurt anything, but beets have never been on my list of foods to eat. I will have to think about this one some more. LOL

    • Haha Joyce, that’s funny because I was the same way before I tried fermenting them. I never used to eat beets at all, now I do all the time and quite enjoy them, but I never cook them.

  5. My husband loves beets, but I rarely think to prepare them. Thanks for this reminder. Last time I cooked beets I discovered just how hardy their lovely magenta dye can be. I got beet juice stains on my hands and the stains lasted for days. Your method seems a bit less messy. Around here beet juice is used on the roads to keep them from icing up. Sad way to waste a good root, I’d say.

    • I’ve never heard of using beet juice for that, but I agree that its a waste. I know what you mean about the dye, it doesn’t come off easily. I am not particularly fond of the beet kvass, but its not bad and I take it more as a blood tonic than a refreshing drink. I have come to love the fermented beets though, very tasty and a nice cold side to stimulate digestion.

  6. Gosh almighty, what an awesome blog, and a fellow Canadian.

    I live rurally (ontario) and all the farm stands have gads of beets available. But am lacking a source of whey. Don’t have a reliable source for raw milk, so whats a girl to do?

    Many thanks for all info

    • Thank you gwen (“fellow Canadian”), I am flattered! Yeah, a reliable source of raw milk can be difficult. What “a girl” might do is to substitute the unavailable whey with lemon juice or vinegar or something. The ultimate target is to slightly acidify the brew with a palatable alternative. Cheers.

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