Nitric oxide is considered the single most important molecule for health by prominent doctors and researchers like Lou Ignarro. You might know how important it is for you to increase your nitric oxide levels. Still, most people don't know the many ways you can boost nitric oxide production beyond nitrate rich foods and exercise.
It’s important to keep nitric oxide produced and pumping in your body, especially as you age. With a 50% decline in nitric oxide production by middle age, it’s no surprise aging is associated with diminished health. However, it doesn't have to be this way if you learn the various ways to keep your nitric levels up. Here’s how to increase nitric oxide levels.
DO THIS to boost nitric oxide
1. Eat foods high in dietary nitrate
Let's start with the most obvious and the largest source of nitrate, our diet. Eating more plant-based nitrate in your diet will increase the amount of nitric oxide you have. Foods like beetroot, red spinach, oranges, and almonds all help boost nitric oxide. Nitric oxide boosting foods act directly by supplying increased nitrate to your system and indirectly via antioxidants and increased L-arginine and L-citrulline. You can learn more about nitrate-rich foods that support anti-aging and foods that increase nitric oxide levels.
Omega-3 fatty acids from diet also increase nitric oxide synthesis. You can source these fatty acids from walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, edamame, seaweed, and algae.
2. Eat foods high in antioxidants
Antioxidants help prolong the short life of the gas nitric oxide. The half-life of nitric oxide is between 1-3 seconds. Foods containing antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that contribute to a shortened nitric oxide lifespan and thus support nitric oxide synthase activity. Researchers have warned that nitric oxide and its associated benefits could be lost with the increased consumption of processed meats and foods with added nitrate, as opposed to naturally occurring nitrate. Recent studies show that vitamins in fruits, vegetables, green tea, and black tea block nitrosamine formation. The best foods for ample antioxidant contents include tart cherry, pomegranate juice, blueberries, strawberries, and citrus fruits.
3. Do daily nitric oxide dump exercises
Dump exercises are a powerful way to target your muscles and increase fitness levels. It's a type of advanced stability drill that strengthens muscles, ligaments, and tendons around the knee. It’s also a great way to practice range of motion and avoid injury. Here's an example of a perfectly executed nitric oxide dump exercise: three sets of 10 reps for a total of around 4 minutes. This quick exercise is meant to be repeated 3 times a day, leading to a total of 15 minutes of exercise time.
4. Get daily natural sunlight
Nitrite reserved in our skin cells reacts with sunlight to produce what is called dermal nitric oxide. There are numerous benefits to this phenomenon. Specifically, nitric oxide production on the skin is important for three key reasons: wound healing, dermal immune response, and dermal vasodilation. Learn more about the endless benefits of getting the right amount of sun to boost nitric oxide levels.
5. Manage your stress
Increased stress lowers nitric oxide levels, and lower nitric oxide levels increase stress. It's feedback systems that spiral health out of control. Symptoms of low nitric oxide include anxiety, depression, and fatigue, which are all made worse by stress. Stressful events can engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes the heart to pump and adrenal glands to engage. Try to put plans in place and use tools to prevent stress from reaching this level. Find more about how the body uses nitric oxide to reduce stress and ways you can manage stress levels for achieving optimal health.
6. Nose breathing and meditate to boost nitric oxide
It keeps us alive, but mostly we don't think about the way we breathe. But the way we choose to breathe makes a big difference in our quality of life and our health. One key difference is that breathing through the nose allows nitric oxide production in the nasal cavity. When we breathe through our mouth, there are no nitric oxide production benefits. Nose breathing helps produce nitric oxide that relaxes the muscle around blood vessels and arteries helping the body relax. SKY meditation is an example of a popular breathing practice that increases nitric oxide and one that drastically:
- Improves lung capacity
- Slows down breathing
- Increases airflow to arteries, veins, capillaries, and nerves
- Increase oxygen uptake and circulation
AVOID THIS to prevent depleting nitric oxide levels
7. Antibacterial mouthwash
Most people don't know that the wrong turn in oral health can mean depleted benefits from exercise. For a long time, researchers didn't understand how post-workout hypotension occurred. After studies were conducted, it was found that anti-bacterial mouthwash is to blame for reduced nitrate levels and thus reduced nitric oxide levels. You don't have to skip the dental floss, and there are natural mouthwashes you can switch to if you're at risk. Don't waste the cardiovascular benefits of your next workout by using harmful mouthwashes.
Fluoride use in municipal drinking water has become the norm. Toothpaste brands have made it a staple ingredient. The claim is that fluoride is important to prevent cavities. However, you can choose which toothpaste you use and opt for non-fluoridated toothpaste. Those who drink municipal water are subjected to fluoride, whether they want to ingest it or not. Regardless of your take on fluoride, studies show that fluoride poses a threat to health and suppresses nitric oxide synthesis. Excessive exposure can deplete nitric oxide production capabilities. Look for toothpaste that avoids fluoride as an ingredient. Natural alternatives to fluoride that protect teeth from cavities include Neem, coconut oil, ozonated olive oil, oregano oil, and myrrh.
9. Too much salt
Heavy salt use or "salt loading" episodes have been connected to a subsequent decrease in nitric oxide production. Both groups of people who are salt sensitive and who are not salt-sensitive displayed depleted nitric oxide production capabilities after heavy salt usage. This study tells us that if you want to keep your nitric oxide levels up, avoid salty foods. That means reducing the amount of salt you use or opting for an alternative altogether like miso paste which is soy-based.
10. Saturated fats
Diets rich in saturated fats impact the body's ability to produce nitric oxide. Reduced nitric oxide production means there will be less nitric oxide available to do its job and relax the smooth muscle around arteries. It is suspected that this might be the process by which saturated fats contribute to disturbed endothelial tissue. The reduction of saturated fats helps avoid this reduction in nitric oxide and will undoubtedly contribute to overall health.
It's no surprise that smoking is bad for you, but did you know that smoking drastically reduces your oxid nitric levels. Smoking impairs endothelial vasodilation and restricts circulation. Exposure to cigarette smoke extract displays irreversible, permanent nitric oxide synthase inhibition in the pulmonary artery endothelial cells. As a result of this permanent damage, it's suspected that this is the cause of high rate pulmonary and cardiovascular disease in cigarette smokers.
12. High cholesterol foods
If you want to increase your nitric oxide levels, try decreasing your cholesterol. Studies show that high cholesterol levels reduce the bioavailability of nitric oxide, which is part of why this impacts heart health. Studies show that after treatment of high cholesterol with lipid-lowering drugs, an increase in nitric oxide bioavailability is present. Impaired vasodilation due to high cholesterol can be corrected, and nitric oxide levels could rise once again.
13. Drinking alcohol
When it comes to drinking alcohol, it's not all or nothing. Small amounts of alcohol have been shown to increase nitric oxide levels. However, high concentrations of alcohol and chronic alcohol usage dramatically reduce endothelial health and nitric oxide bioavailability. Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption improves nitric oxide levels by allowing nitric oxide synthase to commence. Unlike smoking, when you reduce your alcohol intake you can repair and boost nitric oxide levels once again.
14. Sedentary lifestyle
Just as a nitric oxide dump workout can boost your nitric oxide production levels, inactivity does just the opposite. It stagnates nitric oxide production. One study showed that young, healthy individuals who partake in a sedentary lifestyle display endothelial dysfunction and reduced nitric oxide production levels. Even one walk a day can reverse this.
15. Too much sugar
Maintaining high glucose levels ultimately leads to an imbalance of nitric oxide and superoxide, a free radical. When this imbalance occurs as a result of high sugar intake, endothelial functions become impaired. Kidneys become impacted by too much sugar in this process, and researchers are looking to correct the damage by administering L-arginine and antioxidants. Reducing sugar intake can prevent kidney damage and nitric oxide/superoxide imbalance. To reduce blood sugar levels, you can increase water intake, eat more fiber, implement portion control, get adequate sleep, and increase micronutrients.
Are you getting enough nitric oxide?
There's no physical test you can take for assessing nitric oxide levels because it's such a short-lived gas. However, you can infer whether your levels are high or low based on symptoms, your feelings, and your overall lifestyle. Do you take actions to increase your nitric oxide levels? Are you actively seeking to increase levels by diet and exercise? Wherever you fall on the nitric oxide production spectrum, you can still take charge of your life. Use this list to help you address where you're excelling and where you can improve your nitric oxide game.
Take the nitric oxide self test
If you're still unsure where your nitric oxide levels might stand, you can take the Nitric Oxide Self-Test. Try to answer each question as unbiased and honest as possible to see your accurate results. If you're not getting enough nitrates in your diet, you can start there.
Boost nitric oxide with NutriGardens
If you're looking to maintain nitric oxide levels for general health as you age, you can get daily dietary nitrate support with Beet Boost. If you're an athlete, you can boost nitric oxide levels for performance and endurance with Spin Boost -- it offers a reliable 400 mg of measured nitrate per serving. The family of plant-based products at NutriGardens can help you achieve your nitric oxide boosting goals.
Are you getting enough nitric oxide?