Spicy Foods

Nitric oxide foods

Nitric oxide (N-O) production in your body is critical for maintaining health as we age. This molecule is involved in virtually every major system in our body. It is primarily known for its key role in cardiovascular function as it helps regulate normal blood pressure and ensure sufficient circulation.

Decades of research show that not only do exercise and diet benefit you as a whole, but they are instrumental in maintaining healthy nitric oxide levels. But is it enough? The answer is, it depends.

Nitric Oxide and Food

In order for you to experience the heart healthy impact of nitric oxide (N-O), your body must first activate the production of N-O from natural nitrate found in foods like beets, artichokes and green leafy vegetables. These are the foods that increase nitric oxide levels, according to the latest scientific studies.

Yet not everyone experiences the same degree of benefit.

Why not?

The reason is that bacteria in our mouth and gut are responsible for activating the conversion of nitrate to N-O. However, it was found that if people were deficient in certain kinds of bacteria in their body, N-O activation would not occur. In fact, studies indicate that as much as 30 to 50% of us may not have the right bacteria to utilize the nutrients found in some foods to generate N-O. There are many reasons, but something as simple as using antiseptic mouthwash or antibiotics may be to blame. Or you could have an active infection in your mouth without even realizing it.

Age is another factor that appears to reduce the effectiveness of converting healthy nitrate-rich foods into nitric oxide. For most people, the process begins to slow down around age 40. And while eating healthy foods like dark leafy greens or beets still helps, it may no longer be enough to maintain the nitric oxide levels you need for optimal health. So if including foods that increase nitric oxide in your diet isn’t enough, what will work? Is exercise the missing piece?

Nitric Oxide and Exercise

Another way to stimulate N-O production in our body is through exercise. Research shows that in young healthy adults, exercise enhances N-O production from L-arginine in the blood vessels and is responsible for maintaining optimal cardiovascular health.

Unfortunately, research on the levels of nitric oxide and exercise for those over 40 indicates the increase in N-O from exercise is often compromised because of poor blood vessel health and the lost ability to convert L-arginine to N-O. As a result, older adults don’t get the same N-O benefit from exercise as young adults.

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