Fuel Up on Nitric Oxide
Discovered in the 1890s, nitric oxide was the explosive chemical used in dynamite. More recently, researchers believed nitric oxide might be an effective heart medication. Clinical tests failed, but a curious side effect discovered in the test subjects led to the development of Viagra.
Clearly, nitric oxide is a versatile molecule.
Why it’s important to you is that it helps our 50-trillion cells communicate with each other by sending signals throughout the body. Nitric oxide is important in several cellular activities, including:
+ Increasing endurance and strength
+ Increasing your sense of smell
+ Improving sleep quality
+ Reducing inflammation
+ Lowering blood pressure by dilating arteries
+ Strengthening the immune system
+ Improving memory
Fortunately, the most common way to increase nitric oxide is by exercising. When you run or lift weights, your muscles need more oxygen, which is supplied by the blood. As the heart pumps to supply the muscles with blood, the lining in your arteries release nitric oxide, which relaxes and widens the vessel wall, allowing more blood to pass through.
Unfortunately, as you age your blood vessels and nitric oxide system become less efficient because of poor diet, inactivity, and free radical damage. To combat the aging issue and increase your nitric oxide levels, there are a number of foods that contain the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline – and luckily for you, most are delicious.
+ Dark chocolate – the raw cacao bean increases nitric oxide and is loaded with antioxidants.
+ Citrus – oranges, lemons, and grapefruit have high amounts of vitamin C, which protects your nitric oxide molecules from free radical damage.
+ Walnuts – these have a high amount of L-arginine.
+ Spinach – the leafy green is packed with nutrients and nitrates.
+ Watermelon – this fruit is loaded with L-citrulline, which gets converted into L-arginine and then into nitric oxide.
+ Meat and seafood – grass-fed meat and wild seafood are a good source of Coenzyme Q10, which is necessary to raise nitric oxide levels.
Because nitric oxide is so important in improving blood flow and reducing inflammation, L-arginine and L-citrulline supplements are the new secret weapons for athletes and bodybuilders. For the rest of us, it’s an easier equation – workout more and work more of the foods above into our diet. That’ll get the blood pumping.