How Low Nitric Oxide is Making you Tired, Weak & Inflamed

Have you found yourself gradually losing energy, strength, and endurance, despite no major changes in your lifestyle?

Perhaps you've noticed dull skin, poor blood flow, slow wound healing, difficulty concentrating, low sexual response, or even blood pressure issues creeping into your life, affecting your work, play, and relationships. If any of this sounds familiar, you might be experiencing the effects of low nitric oxide levels.

What’s Nitric Oxide (NO)?

This gaseous signaling molecule is naturally produced in the body and has been dubbed the "molecule of the year" in 1992, with its importance in cardiovascular health even earning the researchers who discovered it a Nobel Prize in 1998.

Nitric oxide plays a vital role in regulating blood flow and blood pressure, impacting heart health, metabolism, memory, learning, immune function, and even air flow in the lungs. Notably, NO is crucial in the function of erectile tissue, and the study of its effects led to the development of the well-known drug Viagra. Inhaled NO even has antimicrobial effects.

Where is nitric oxide produced? Mainly, it's synthesized by endothelial cells, which line blood vessels, and it's also found in high concentrations in sinus air.

However, here's the catch: NO production decreases as we age. By the time men reach 40 and women reach 50, production is reduced by 50%.

Nitric oxide production decreases with age. It’s reduced by 50% by the time men reach 40 & women reach 50

So, how do you know if low nitric oxide levels are contributing to your symptoms?

One way is to measure your levels using saliva test strips. The first time I used NO test strips my levels were so low, I thought the tests were defective!

As someone who exercises regularly and eats a diverse range of vegetables, this revelation about my cardiovascular risk was eye-opening. Fortunately, with dedicated efforts to support NO production, I've witnessed an improvement in my levels.

Here are steps you can take to improve your nitric oxide levels and reclaim your vitality:

  1. Eat Leafy Greens & Colourful Veggies: Nitrate-rich foods provide your body with the ingredients it needs to produce nitric oxide. Think celery, red beetroot, arugula, chard, and spinach.

  2. Move Regularly: Engage in movement, especially exercises that target large muscle groups, such as squats. Regular physical activity can slow the decline of NO levels.

  3. Breathe Through your Nose: Nitric oxide plays an important role in making sure you’re getting enough oxygen in your body. By widening both blood vessels and airways in the lungs, it enhances the exchange of oxygen. NO also acts as a regulator of the immune system, exhibiting anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. In fact, researchers are exploring the potential of inhaled NO for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, underlining its significance in respiratory health.  

    The ancient practice of nose breathing finds renewed relevance in light of NO's role. The cells in your sinuses produce nitric oxide, which is inhaled into the body - if and when you breathe through the nose. In contrast, mouth breathing bypasses these benefits, potentially leading to adverse health effects. James Nestor's book Breath highlights the stark consequences of constant mouth breathing, including a notable increase in blood pressure and anxiety in just two weeks!

    Despite the ability to breathe through the nose, many individuals habitually breathe through their mouths. This may be due to sleep position, jaw structure or a history of sinus congestion. But there’s good news: by using mouth tape at night you can train yourself to breathe through your nose again. With this simple technique I’ve seen many people report feeling more rested in the morning.

  1. Get Sunlight Exposure: Spending time in sunlight can boost NO levels. This could explain the link between sunlight exposure and improvements in blood pressure, immune function, and mood. If getting enough sun is a challenge, consider photobiomodulation (PBM), also known as light therapy, as a safe alternative to promote NO production without risking UV damage.

  2. Supplements: For those with low NO levels (like me!), supplements such as pomegranate extract, that enhance blood flow and widen blood vessels may be beneficial. Beetroot juice has also been shown to improve exercise capacity and improve blood pressure.

So, if you've been feeling tired, weak, and inflamed, it might be time to give your nitric oxide levels a boost. By implementing these lifestyle changes and incorporating NO-supportive habits into your daily routine, you can combat the effects of low nitric oxide levels and reclaim your vitality.

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