What if I told you that there is a molecule in your body that has the capacity to prevent high blood pressure and diseases caused from damage to the heart, brain and kidneys; keep your arteries young and flexible (preventing, slowing or even reversing the buildup of plaque); lower cholesterol; reduce your risk of diabetes; limit the pain and swelling of arthritis; and boost the power of pain relievers? It also reverses erectile dysfunction, calms the inflammation of asthma, protects bones from osteoporosis, and limits the sun damage to your skin. What is this miraculous molecule that you are making billions of at this very second? Nitric oxide!
Nitric oxide is a simple molecule made of one atom of oxygen and one atom of nitrogen, making the chemical NO. It is a signaling molecule and lives its life as a gas that permeates your body, having an effect on literally every cell, membrane and tissue – especially in the lining of the arteries. When NO is created and released, this gas easily and quickly penetrates nearby membranes and cells, signaling arteries to relax and expand, immune cells to kill bacteria and cancer cells and brain cells to communicate with each other.
Levels of nitric oxide decrease as we age, and there is even speculation that this is why we age. Since aging and disease seem to occur with a decrease of NO, much recent research has been dedicated to finding out how to make more of it in our bodies.
Ever since 1998, when three scientists won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of nitric oxide, there have been a plethora of studies about it. What these studies have found is that an increase of NO in the body decreases cardiovascular disease, heart attack, stroke and heart failure. It increases the effectiveness of painkillers on arthritis, decreases the effect of altitude sickness, opens closed airways from asthma, decreases urinary incontinence and interstitial cystitis, improves the treatment of cancer, improves diabetes, eliminates erectile dysfunction, helps with sleep… and the list goes on and on.
These same scientists also found that what boosts NO in the body is a common amino acid known as L-arginine; it seems L-arginine triggers the enzyme that synthesizes nitric oxide within the cellular tissue of the body. Together with citrulline, it recharges the cells to help the continuation of NO in every cell.
Scientists speculate that more than 50 percent of the NO that is in our bodies comes from our diet, mostly from dark green, leafy vegetables, lean meats and fish. In fact, all the studies have found that a Mediterranean diet is most beneficial for increasing your body’s natural level of NO.
Citrulline: The Other Important Molecule
High amounts of citrulline are found in watermelon, dandelion greens, apples, red wine, pomegranate juice, cocoa and green tea. While a good diet rich in these nutrients is vitally important, it is also hard to obtain just with the foods we eat; you can find supplements in powder form with high levels of arginine and citrulline.
Exercise has also been found to be a key component in nitric oxide production. In fact, all studies have found that exercise improves your ability to create NO and NO also improves your ability to exercise, so start slowly and work up to a good daily exercise routine to improve your daily production of NO.
Interestingly, several studies have pointed to the importance of proper probiotics in the mouth for the production of nitric oxide. There is a chewable product called Pro-Dental that includes all of the good bacteria that live in the mouth, which improves dental function and also helps with the production of nitric oxide.
I hope this helps you improve your overall health and leads to a longer, happier life. QCBN
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