Vegetables Rate by Nitrate

Nitric oxide in foods

IL-17 does its dirty work of destroying tissue by activating a compound called inducible nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide is a gas in the body that acts as a signaling compound, triggering things to happen. It plays a role in many normal physiological processes, but also in disease. There are three forms of nitric oxide, two of which are beneficial, and one of which is destructive.

Exercise enthusiasts take an amino acid supplement called arginine to boost nitric oxide, as the beneficial forms of nitric oxide promote blood flow and the dilation of blood vessels. Bodybuilders like this because increasing blood flow to their muscles enables them to lift heavier weights, work out longer, and recover faster, thus building more muscle. Good nitric oxide activity has also been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. [2]

The good and the bad of nitric oxide

Unfortunately, arginine may also increase a very pro-inflammatory and damaging form of nitric oxide called inducible nitric oxide.

Researchers have found that when an autoimmune reaction creates a surge in TH-17 activity, it stimulates an enzyme called inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) to produce more inducible nitric oxide. When TH-17 goes up, iNOS goes up, and inducible nitric oxide sets about destroying body tissue, such as the thyroid gland, erroneously targeted by the dysregulated immune system.[3] [4] [5]

In other words, TH-17 gives the orders to attack, but inducible nitric oxide is the perpetrator that carries out the dirty work. Unfortunately, people who take arginine may be subjecting themselves to unnecessary increases in iNOS activity, and hence more inflammation.

Like TH-17, iNOS isn’t all bad. It’s pro-inflammatory role comes in handy to combat viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.[6] But the health imbalances that lead to autoimmune disease are the same ones that over stimulate the production of iNOS that destroy body tissue.[7]

We can test TH-17 levels just as we can test for TH-1 and TH-2. This is helpful because if a lab panel shows TH-17 cytokines to be elevated, this tells us tissue is actively being destroyed and it’s vital to quench that process.

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