Nitric oxide is probably not something you have given much thought to. It is a gas that is inhaled when we breathe through our noses. It works by relaxing smooth muscle to widen (dilate) blood vessels, especially in the lungs. Nitric oxide is used by our body to get better carbon dioxide oxygen exchange. It is used in a hospital setting with a breathing machine (ventilator) to treat respiratory failure in premature babies.
What does nitric oxide do to your body?
Circulatory system: Nitric oxide appears to help your body dilate and constrict your blood vessels. This can improve your blood pressure and, therefore, your heart health. Exercise and muscle performance: Nitric oxide may correlate to a slight improvement in physical performance.
Nitric oxide is vital for a healthy cardiovascular system, but deep breathing is just starting. Produced by the endothelium—the lining of the blood vessels—this chemical is highly responsive to healthy heart habits like regular exercise and low cholesterol.
It is commonly used to relax cardiac blood vessels in patients with heart disease enhances liver growth and regeneration, independent of its effect on blood vessels.
Excessive Nitric Oxide:
Just as nitric oxide deficiency can lead to disease, too much can also cause disease. Nitric oxide is released from the cerebral vasculature, brain tissue, and nerve endings. It may cause headaches and migraines.
What are the symptoms of low nitric oxide?
These are five common nitric oxide deficiency symptoms that you should be looking out for:
- Vision. Can’t see too clearly?
- Increase in body heat & decrease in movement. Feeling a little feverish?
- Chronic Stress. Stress is pervasive and is delivered in various forms in today’s world.
- Low Energy.
- Slow Recovery Times.
Nitric oxide is a crucial compound involved in many aspects of health, including blood pressure regulation, athletic performance, and brain function.
Making a few simple swaps in your diet can be an easy and effective way to increase your nitric oxide levels naturally.
Eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and healthy protein foods can optimize nitric oxide levels while promoting better overall health.
4 Ways to Increase Nitric Oxide Naturally
Nitric oxide is a molecule produced naturally by your body, and it’s important for many aspects of your health.
Its most important function is vasodilation, meaning it relaxes the inner muscles of the blood vessels, causing them to widen and increase circulation.
Nitric oxide production is essential for overall health because it allows blood, nutrients, and oxygen to travel to every part of your body effectively and efficiently.
In fact, a limited capacity to produce nitric oxide is associated with heart disease, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction.
Fortunately, there are many ways to maintain optimal nitric oxide levels in your body.
Here are the top 5 ways to increase nitric oxide naturally.
- Increase Antioxidants
These antioxidants are found in all foods but are primarily plant origins, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains.
A few important antioxidants include:
- Vitamin C: This antioxidant helps your body form connective tissues, including skin, bones, tendons, and cartilage. It also produces brain chemicals that help nerve cells communicate Vitamin E: This antioxidant protects cells from the damaging effects of free radicals, which are thought to contribute to aging and disease. It also plays an important role in keeping the immune system strong.
- Polyphenols: This category of antioxidants is associated with several health benefits, including a reduced risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease Glutathione: Coined “the mother of all antioxidants,” glutathione is the master antioxidant and detoxifier of every cell in your body.
- Eat Vegetables High in Nitrates
Nitrate, a compound found in certain vegetables, is one of the many reasons vegetables are healthy for you.
Vegetables high in nitrate include:
When these foods are consumed, nitrates are converted into nitric oxide, which confers a wide range of health benefits related to heart health and exercise performance.
- Limit Your Use of Mouthwash
Mouthwash destroys bacteria in your mouth that can contribute to the growth of cavities and other dental diseases.
Unfortunately, mouthwash kills all types of bacteria, including the beneficial ones that help produce nitric oxide.
Special bacteria in the mouth convert nitrate to nitric oxide. In fact, humans cannot produce nitric oxide from nitrate without these bacteria Research has shown that mouthwash kills the oral bacteria needed to produce nitric oxide for up to 12 hours.
This leads to a decrease in nitric oxide production and, in some instances, an increase in blood pressure.
The detrimental effects of mouthwash on nitric oxide production may even contribute to the development of diabetes, which is characterized by malfunctions in insulin production or action.
This is because nitric oxide also regulates insulin, which helps cells utilize the energy obtained from food after it’s digested. Without nitric oxide, insulin cannot work properly.
One study found that people who used mouthwash at least twice daily were 65% more likely to develop diabetes than those who never used mouthwash.
To maintain adequate nitric oxide production, mouthwash is best sparingly.
- Get Your Blood Flowing With Exercise
Exercise does get your blood pumping, largely because it improves endothelial function.
Endothelium refers to the thin layer of cells that line the blood vessels. These cells produce nitric oxide, which keeps blood vessels healthy.
Insufficient nitric oxide production results in endothelium dysfunction, contributing to atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and other risk factors for heart disease. Exercise keeps your endothelial cells and blood vessels healthy by increasing your body’s natural ability to produce nitric oxide.
Several studies have shown that regular physical activity increases endothelial vasodilation in people who have high blood pressure and heart disease and healthy individuals. Studies have also shown that exercise increases antioxidant activity, which helps inhibit the breakdown of nitric oxide caused by free radicals ).
The benefits of exercise on endothelial health and nitric oxide production can be seen in as little as ten weeks when exercising for 30 minutes at least three times a week for optimal results, combined with aerobic training, such as walking or jogging, with anaerobic training, such as resistance training. The types of exercise you choose should be things you enjoy and can do long term.
Finally, speak with your doctor to determine any limitations you may have regarding exercise.
The 10 Best Foods to Boost Nitric Oxide Levels
Nitric oxide is a vital molecule produced in your body that impacts many aspects of health.
Adding these to your diet is one of the best and most effective ways to boost levels of this important molecule naturally.
According to one study in 38 adults, consuming a beetroot juice supplement increased nitric oxide levels by 21% after just 45 minutes.
Garlic can boost nitric oxide levels by up to 40% within an hour of consumption by activating nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme that aids in the conversion of nitric oxide from the amino acid L-arginine.
Meat, poultry, and seafood are all excellent sources of coenzyme Q10— an important compound believed to help preserve nitric oxide in the body.
- Dark Chocolate
One 15-day study in 16 people showed that consuming 30 grams of dark chocolate daily led to significant increases in nitric oxide levels in the blood. Dark Chocolate is loaded with flavanols — naturally occurring compounds that boast an extensive list of powerful health benefits.
- Leafy Greens
Vegetables like spinach, arugula, kale, and cabbage are packed with nitrates are converted to nitric oxide in your body.
- Citrus Fruits
Fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit are excellent sources of vitamin C, an important water-soluble vitamin that plays a central role in our health.
Vitamin C can enhance nitric oxide levels by increasing its bioavailability and maximizing its absorption in the body.
Pomegranates are loaded with potent antioxidants that can protect your cells against damage and preserve nitric oxide.
- Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are high in arginine, a type of amino acid involved in the production of nitric oxide.
This luscious melon is one of the best sources of citrulline, an amino acid converted to arginine and, ultimately, nitric oxide in your body.
- Red Wine
Red wine contains many powerful antioxidants and has been tied to a multitude of health benefits.
While Nitric oxide is amazing for the body, if you have a sensitivity or allergy to nitrates, some of these sources may not be an option.
Nose Breathing And Nitric Oxide
The vasodilator gas nitric oxide (NO) is produced in the paranasal sinuses and is excreted continuously into the nasal airways of humans. This NO will normally reach the lungs with inspiration, especially during nasal breathing.
The nasal cavity and turbinates play important physiological functions by filtering, warming, and humidifying inhaled air. Paranasal sinuses continually produce nitric oxide (NO), a reactive oxygen species that diffuses to the bronchi and lungs to produce bronchodilatory and vasodilatory effects.
We discuss here additional lifestyle factors such as mouth breathing which may affect the antiviral response against SARS-CoV-2 by bypassing the filtering effect of the nose and by decreasing NO levels in the airways. Simple devices that promote nasal breathing during sleep may help prevent the common cold, suggesting potential benefits against coronavirus infection.
Another phenomenon that reduces NO levels in the airways and the filtering, warming, and humidifying effects of the nose on inhaled air is mouth breathing. Measurements indicate that mouth breathers have lower levels of NO within the respiratory tract compared to nasal breathers
Mouth breathing has been associated with many health issues, including abnormal facial and dental development, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, halitosis, headaches, hypertension, inflammation, sleep apnea, snoring, stress, and tooth decay, to name a few
While most people spontaneously report breathing through the nose, mouth breathing may occur during talking, exercise, and sleep or in people with allergies, congestion, or nasal obstruction, suggesting it may be more prevalent than usually appreciated. For instance, switching between nasal and mouth breathing is common during sleep, especially in older individuals.
Mouth breathing during sleep may therefore worsen the symptoms of COVID-19, consistent with the observation that symptoms of respiratory infections are usually worse in the morning. The overall severity of disease would also be decreased by combining nasal breathing with a healthy lifestyle that includes exercise, a full night’s sleep, and a balanced diet.
Your nose is designed to help you breathe safely, efficiently, and adequately. It can do this due to its ability to:
- Filter out foreign particles. Nasal hair filters out dust, allergens, and pollen, which helps prevent them from entering your lungs.
- Humidify inhaled air. Your nose warms and moisturizes the air you breathe in. This brings the air you inhale to body temperature, making it easier for your lungs to use.
- Produce nitric oxide. During nasal breathing, your nose releases nitric oxide (NO). NO is a vasodilator, which means it helps to widen blood vessels. This can help improve oxygen circulation in your body.
Mouth Breathing: Why does it matter?
Breathing provides our bodies with the oxygen we need to survive. Most people don’t give breathing much thought. nAre you breathing through your nose, your mouth, or a combination of both?
Studies show close to 80% of the population breathe wrong, affecting their overall health. What is the proper way to breathe? Breathing through our noses is how our bodies were designed. We function better when we use our bodies and feed our bodies the way they were intended.
Another benefit of nasal breathing is the production of nitric oxide. Our nose filters the air as it passes into our body and creates optimal oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange, which helps balance out pH levels.
How does mouth breathing affect our body?
In children, mouth breathing can cause poor growth and development, crooked teeth, cavities, Facial deformities, leading to ADHD, ADD Sleep Apnea. In adults, chronic mouth breathing can cause cavities, gum disease, bad breath, low energy, and many other systemic diseases.
What causes mouth breathing?
Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
Respiratory or sinus infections
Mouth breathing is often worse at night, and signs and symptoms may include Grinding, snoring, dry mouth, Frequent urination, even sleep apnea.
How do we treat mouth breathing?
It sounds like it should be easy to fix. Just shut your mouth and breath through your nose. What is the root cause? It can be, or it can be complicated. Can you even breathe through your nose?
Many professionals may play a role in helping you find the3 cause and treating this problem.
Ask questions, talk to your dental professional at your next appointment or reach out to the healthy mouth movement.
When to see a doctor
Should see a doctor if you or a loved one:
- experience severe and sudden shortness of breath
- experience shortness of breath at rest
- have severe shortness of breath that worsens during exercise or physical activity
- wake suddenly with shortness of breath or a feeling of choking
- are at high altitude (above 8,000 feet or 2,400 meters) and experience severe shortness of breath with a cough, rapid heartbeat, or fluid retention.
Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. “Get 10 Interesting Facts About Oxygen.” ThoughtCo, Sep. 7, 2021, thoughtco.com/oxygen-facts-606572.