Nitric oxide (NO) is a key molecule produced naturally in the body. Nitric oxide is involved in many important body functions and is important for many aspects of your health. The most important function of nitric oxide is vasodilation. Vasodilation serves as the foundation of many of the health benefits associated with nitric oxide. However, many bad habits in our day-to-day lives interfere with all the good work high nitric oxide levels do for us.


What Is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric oxide is a neurotransmitter responsible for a plethora of body functions and cellular processes. Nitric oxide is vital for our overall health and quality of life. This is because nitric oxide allows blood, oxygen, and nutrients to be delivered throughout the body efficiently. Nitric oxide is also responsible for functions such as regulating blood pressure, supporting the immune system, supporting brain health, and supporting intracellular communication.

If nitric oxide levels are not adequate, a host of health problems can arise. Some of these problems include inflammation, cardiovascular problems, and obesity to name just a few. Nitric oxide levels naturally decline with age, but our lifestyle has an effect on NO levels too. Engaging in bad habits, both known and unknown will annihilate your nitric oxide levels.


Bad Habits To Stop Doing Now

Some of these bad habits are certainly worse when taken at face value than others. With this in mind, a bad habit here is referring specifically to the context of destroying nitric oxide levels. Some of these bad habits will be blatantly unhealthy, and others not so much. We are here to explore bad habits that destroy nitric oxide levels. Other health problems may come up but the primary goal is education for improving NO. With that out of the way, let’s explore bad habits that annihilate your nitric oxide levels.


1. Stressing Yourself Out Is A Bad Habit

A little bit of stress can be a good thing. Stress has a purpose in our lives. The stress response is an evolutionary trait that serves to keep us alert and alive. Modern humans are no longer using the stress response to stay alive in the wilderness, but it still serves a purpose. Stress is beneficial because it can give you a boost of energy and focus. Stress also serves as a motivator when you are under a time crunch. Moderate doses of stress infrequently are good for you. However, modern humans have a tendency to stress too much, and this is a bad habit that inhibits nitric oxide levels. It is when stress becomes chronic and enduring that problems arise.


Why Stress Is A Bad Habit That Annihilates Nitric Oxide Levels

Chronic stress leads to the engagement of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), or your Fight or Flight Response. When this kicks in, your body releases a flood of hormones and chemicals designed to keep you alive. Adrenaline and cortisol are the chemicals most associated with stress. Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure, and gives you a surge of energy. Cortisol increases glucose levels in the bloodstream, increases glucose use in the brain, and increases the body’s overall glucose metabolism.

The effects of these chemicals in moderation are improved reaction time, more energy, and a higher pain threshold. When these chemicals become chronically available, you notice effects such as weight gain, lower nitric oxide levels, high blood pressure, fatigue, and more.

While there are things you cannot control in your life that create stress, some stress is within your control. You can take measures to reduce the stress you can control to decrease the SNS response in your body. With nitric oxide, eating a NO booster-rich diet and supplementing NO boosters can negate some of the damage from chronic stress on your nitric oxide levels.


2. Anxiety

This bad habit is similar to stress but comes about in various ways. Anxiety is an emotion first and foremost. Anxiety is a broad term that can be defined in various ways depending on who you ask. For our purposes, I will make it simple. Simply put, anxiety is a feeling of fear, dread, and general unease. Anxiety disorders are conditions brought about due to anxiety becoming chronic. With anxiety disorders, the feeling of anxiety is persistent and has long duration periods.

Anxiety can alter how you think and behave. It is because of this that anxiety manifests itself similar to stress. Symptoms of anxiety include:


  • feeling “on edge”
  • difficulty concentrating
  • sleep problems
  • persistent worry
  • feeling tired
  • increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • hyperventilation


Why Anxiety Is a Bad Habit That Annihilates Nitric Oxide Levels

There is a lot of carry-over from stress to anxiety, but there is a distinction. Stress is usually accompanied by a stressor. There is some sort of trigger that creates the stress response. Anxiety can occur without the presence of a stressor. This makes anxiety more difficult to deal with. However, just like stress, there are aspects of anxiety within our control. Some coping mechanisms to deal with anxiety that happens to increase nitric oxide levels are:


  • exercise
  • engaging in nose breathing and stress management techniques
  • eating healthy foods
  • cutting out vices such as smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol

Since Anxiety Disorders are one of the most common mental health disorders in the US, it is a prevalent cause of low NO. Furthermore, medications given to alleviate anxiety can also hinder NO production. Be mindful of anxiety so you can avoid unnecessary damage to your NO production.


3. Sedentary Lifestyle

One of the worst things you can do for your overall health is to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Being inactive gives rise to a plethora of health problems. However, many of those health problems are also brought on by low nitric oxide levels. When you don’t exercise regularly, your body will have more difficulty producing nitric oxide. This leads to health problems that further reduce NO production, such as diabetes, obesity, and heart problems. NO production helps improve exercise performance, increase energy and stamina, improve exercise recovery, and increase endurance. This means that if you start being more active, the NO produced will help you stay active longer.

This is a bad habit that we have plenty of control over. Most of us can choose to work out for a few minutes each day, go for a walk in our spare time, or do something active. Even some injuries can be worked around. The point here is that a sedentary lifestyle is one of the most easily corrected bad habits we can manipulate to improve our nitric oxide levels. The solution here is simple: just get up and move more. If you do not have time to do dedicated workouts, some suggestions include:


  • walk your pet more often/for longer if you have one
  • take the stairs when you can
  • park further from the door
  • take a walk during your lunch break
  • create a desk exercise routine

There are plenty of other creative ways to add more movement to your day, but this is a good starting point to urn this bad habit into a non-issue.


4. Poor Sleep Routine

You probably did not think your sleep affects your nitric oxide levels, but it can. Here we are talking about the things you do prior to going to bed that affect the quality of sleep you get. Sometimes you cannot control your sleep, but steps can be taken. Sleep has been found in some studies to be impacted by nitric oxide levels. Low NO levels have been linked to insomnia, poor recovery sleep, and other sleep problems.

With this in mind, what can we do to sleep better? We can reduce some of our bad habits prior to bed such as excessive screen time, eating right before bed, being too active, etc. Measures we can take to improve our sleep are:


  • choose a consistent bedtime and stick to it as best you can
  • remove screens from your bedroom to avoid use before bed
  • avoid caffeine and large meals too close to bed
  • limit blue light exposure within a couple of hours of bedtime or invest in a pair of blue light glasses if blue light limiting is improbable for you
  • exercise during the day (directly increases NO production)
  • engage in nose breathing exercises before bed (directly increases NO production)


5. Poor Diet

This is another bad habit that we can easily control. There are many foods we can consume that are high in precursors needed to prompt nitric oxide production in the body. Today’s society pushes fast and convenient food options. Unfortunately, most of these are terrible for your overall health. For example, many types of processed meat such as bacon, pepperoni, and salami contain bad nitrates that can cause diseases such as obesity and cancer.

Excessive consumption of processed foods can even damage the endothelial cells that produce nitric oxide, leading to dropped nitric oxide levels. What do we do to combat this bad habit and increase our nitric oxide levels? Here are a few suggestions.


  • eat more foods such as red meat, fish, nuts, and seeds that contain high levels of the amino acid L-arginine (precursor to NO)
  • eat more foods such as watermelon, pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, and cucumbers that contain high levels of the amino acid L-citrulline (precursor to NO)
  • eat foods such as beetroots, kale, spinach, and arugula that contain high levels of healthy nitrates (sparks NO production)



Being Mindful Of The Bad Habits That Annihilate Nitric Oxide Levels

Simply put, some bad habits are detrimental to our NO production. This list is far from exhaustive, but some of those bad habits are poor sleep routines, being inactive, poor diet choices, and chronic stress. Adding more exercise, adding healthy food choices, and managing stress can all counteract these bad habits and improve nitric oxide levels.

It is important you are mindful of these bad habits, and avoid them whenever possible to ensure optimal nitric oxide levels and optimal overall health.