the facts about heavy metal detox

The Facts About A Heavy Metal Detox

The words heavy metal can bring up a few things: steel factories, chemistry lessons from school, or your favorite rock band. However, we will focus on the heavy metals you ingest and discuss why a heavy metal detox might be just what you need to achieve optimal health. Heavy metals are all around us and exposure to them is inevitable to some degree. This exposure happens through food, air, the environment, and more. Some of these metals are good for you. Examples of good metals include:


  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Iron

We need metals like these in small doses to stay healthy. Other heavy metals are detrimental to our health. In this article, we will go over what heavy metals are, what they do once in the body, a few symptoms of heavy metal exposure, the worst heavy metals, and how to reduce heavy metal exposure. This article will be the start of a few articles that cover heavy metal exposure and detox, so make sure you check back in for more info.


What Are Heavy Metals?

Heavy metals are naturally occurring elements found inside the earth. These metals are much denser than water. Therefore, they are considered to be highly toxic even in low concentrations. Now, this sounds bad, and it is. However, a few heavy metals are beneficial to us in low concentrations. As I stated in the last paragraph, some of these metals include iron, copper, and zinc. These metals help with various physiological functions. However, there are several more than do nothing but harm us when we are exposed to them. Because of heavy metal exposure health risks, we have to find ways to detox from heavy metals.


How Does Heavy Metal Exposure Occur?

There are many ways we get exposed to heavy metals. Predominantly, exposure occurs due to food, air, and water. To be more specific exposure can occur from:


  • farmed fish that we eat
  • contaminated water
  • household products
  • dental products
  • air pollution
  • certain medicines

As the list suggests, there is really no way to avoid exposure to some degree. We are unfortunately exposed to heavy metals in some way every day. It is because of this inevitable exposure that a heavy metal detox is a healthy choice.


What Do Heavy Metals Do Once They Are In The Body?

Once they get into your body, heavy metals can accumulate in various organs and bones for up to several years. This accumulation can lead to symptoms such as:


  • behavioral changes
  • low energy/fatigue
  • mood changes
  • thinking difficulty
  • memory issues
  • organ dysfunction
  • development of certain cancers

We want to avoid these symptoms, so a heavy metal detox wouldn’t hurt most of us to try, especially if you like to eat fish frequently.


The Big Bad Wolves Of Heavy Metals

There are 23 heavy metals to be concerned about, but 4 are especially harmful to you. These are mercury, lead, arsenic, and chromium. We will go into a little more detail on each of these 4 metals and then explain a few tips on detoxing from these heavy metals.


#1: Mercury

Remember when I said if you like to eat fish you should be looking into a heavy metal detox? This is why. Mercury is a naturally occurring element that collects in marine life which we then consume. Mercury makes its way into our fish via contaminated waters thanks to industrial pollution. A small fish accumulates the mercury, then a bigger fish eats the smaller fish. That fish will accumulate the mercury, and then we eat that big fish. The fish we eat are typically fish such as tuna.

Mercury accumulation leads to a host of health problems such as:


  • headaches
  • memory issues
  • sleep problems
  • nervous system damage
  • poor concentration

Mercury gets absorbed in the GI tract and is capable of breaching the blood-brain barrier. Once absorbed, mercury can stay in the body for several weeks up to several months. Within the brain, it stays for even longer since it is converted into an inorganic form. If you are pregnant, mercury can penetrate the placental barrier so the child is exposed as well. Besides the brain, mercury tends to accumulate in the kidneys and liver mostly. Because mercury can pass the blood-brain barrier easily, a heavy metal detox would be wise even if you are not showing symptoms of mercury accumulation.


#2: Lead

Similar to mercury, lead is a naturally occurring element. Lead can be found in water, soil, and air. Most human exposure to lead comes from water. While lead can accumulate in various organs such as the brain, liver, and kidneys, bones are the major area of lead accumulation. The side effects of acute lead accumulation include:


  • joint pain
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • fatigue
  • memory loss
  • sleep problems

Some of the long-term effects of lead accumulation include:


  • brain damage
  • liver damage
  • kidney damage
  • chronic joint inflammation
  • high blood pressure
  • fertility issues

Since most lead exposure is due to contaminated water, consider getting a filter for your water at home and be wary of water sources when drinking water in new places or outdoors. To be safe, consider a heavy metal detox or getting tested for lead accumulation if you are experiencing any symptoms.


#3: Arsenic

This heavy metal is found within the earth’s crust. Human exposure to arsenic occurs via contaminated soil, water, and food. Some foods that are commonly associated with arsenic contamination are rice, beer, salmon, mushrooms, and poultry.

Several symptoms of acute arsenic accumulation include:


  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • muscle cramping
  • numbness of extremities

Some of the long-term effects of arsenic accumulation include:


  • cell wall damage
  • cellular communication dysfunction
  • skin problems (cancer, lesions, warts, etc.)
  • lung cancer
  • bladder cancer

Limiting at-risk foods and sourcing your food supply will help minimize the risk of arsenic exposure and accumulation. If you are experiencing any symptoms or feel like you might be at risk, it may be worth a heavy metal detox and/or getting a hair/blood test done to check for heavy metal accumulation.


#4: Cadmium

This heavy metal is found in other metal ores and is a product of environmental pollution. Primarily, cadmium is found in copper and zinc ores. Cadmium exposure is toxic to humans, as it is a heavy metal we have no use for, unlike zinc and copper in small concentrations. Cadmium ends up in the air, water, and soil as a by-product of mining and smelting pollution.

Most of the damage from cadmium occurs in the kidney, liver, and lungs. Therefore, being mindful of water sources, food sources, and pollution impact on your area are keys to avoiding cadmium exposure. A few symptoms of acute cadmium accumulation include:


  • “flu-like” symptoms
  • respiratory issues
  • cardiovascular problems

If there is long-term exposure to cadmium, you may experience issues such as:


  • lung cancer
  • kidney failure
  • pancreas cancer
  • prostate cancer

If you think you might have some exposure to cadmium or just want to be safe, a heavy metal detox and being medically tested are smart decisions. It is better to be safe than sorry, especially if you live near any industrial area.


What Is A Heavy Metal Detox?

Heavy metal detox is exactly as it sounds. No, it isn’t quitting Slayer cold-turkey. Instead, it is the act of introducing lifestyle changes and specific detox agents that help the body’s detox system perform better. There are two primary ways to start a heavy metal detox.

First, you complete chelation therapy. Chelation therapy is a medical procedure that can be done with a doctor or at home. Essentially, you add compounds called chelating agents to your daily routine that bind to the heavy metals in your blood and then get filtered out of the body via feces and urine. Chelation therapy is a natural approach to a heavy metal detox because it involves adding key compounds that help your body’s organs such as the liver and kidney filter out toxins like they are supposed to.

Second, you can make changes to your diet and lifestyle to add naturally occurring chelating agents into your body. This can include specific foods, increasing activity, changing up your environment, using a chelation supplement, and other tips that will both minimize heavy metal exposure and prevent the accumulation of heavy metals in your body before they can create long-term damage.


Tips On Reducing Heavy Metal Exposure

To get you started on the right foot, here are some helpful tips for reducing your heavy metal exposure.


  • Get the good metals in your body. Some metals such as copper, zinc, and iron are necessary for our health. Make sure you are eating the right foods that will provide adequate concentrations of these metals.
  • Check out how fishy your fish are. Fish can be contaminated with arsenic, mercury, and lead. Check the sources for your fish. Be extra careful of tuna, swordfish, salmon, and sardines.
  • Have a chat with your dentist. Some fillings have a mercury amalgam, so ask your dentist about resin fillings when possible.
  • Check those jabs. I don’t mean boxing jabs, but vaccines. Some vaccines contain a controversial mercury-derived preservative. If you are at all nervous about that, ask your doctor for vaccines that are free of that specific alternative.
  • Peep the paint jobs. Older buildings were painted with lead-based paints. With this in mind, be wary of chipped paint. Also, DON’T LICK THE PAINT.
  • Use the spices. Herbs such as cilantro, parsley, and rosemary contain chelating agents which will help your body dissolve or flush out heavy metals.
  • Hydrate with caution. Water can easily be contaminated with heavy metals, particularly lead. Therefore, you need to be mindful of your water source. Also, filter your water whenever possible to eliminate any potential contaminants.

These are just a few tips you can implement today to minimize heavy metal exposure.


Final Thoughts

Heavy metal detox is something everyone can do to some degree and should do since heavy metal exposure is inevitable. Use the steps suggested above to make some small changes today that can have a positive impact on your health. Also, if you feel like you need more answers, head to a doctor and get tested for heavy metal accumulation. For extra info on heavy metals and overall healthy living, check out the rest of our blog here.



5 foods to help detoxify from heavy metals

Five Foods To Help Detoxify From Heavy Metals

For many ailments and health problems, your diet can be a powerful tool in promoting optimal health. The foods we eat can do wonders for making changes in our health and wellness. When it comes to detoxifying from heavy metals, this is still true. There are plenty of foods that will help you detox from heavy metals. These foods can be added to your diet on a daily basis to help you detoxify from heavy metals. These foods are easy to find and easy to prepare. Furthermore, these foods can be consumed in a multitude of ways so you won’t get bored. In this article, I will tell you 10 foods you can eat that will help you detoxify from heavy metals.

Detox diets are currently a very trendy topic in many health circles. Detox diets are typically spoken about as a strategy for weight loss. However, those detox diets are often ineffective and only provide short-term results. If you’ve ever seen restrictive diets, detox teas, detox juices, and tools similar to those, you know what I mean. Heavy metal detoxification is often viewed as another short-term strategy to “flush” toxins within a few days or a few weeks, then you can go back to the way things were before. Therefore, this article is aimed at promoting the idea that detoxifying from heavy metals via diet is a long-term process that you can do every day to stay healthy. Heavy metal detox diets should be a lifestyle, not a 14-day challenge. The focus should be on clean foods and daily habits that promote lifelong health.


What Is a Heavy Metal Detox?

Simply put, detoxing from heavy metals is the act of introducing specific foods, lifestyle changes, or compounds that will help your body get rid of heavy metals accumulated within your body. Heavy metals can accumulate in your bones, organs, muscles, and bloodstream. Some heavy metals will be flushed out faster than others, and if you do not minimize the factors that are exposing you to these heavy metals, you will continue to accumulate these heavy metals faster than your body can get rid of them.


How Do We Detoxify From Heavy Metals?

A detox generally means a natural removal of toxins and contaminants from our bodies. Every day, our body removes toxins without us even being aware. Our body can detoxify from heavy metals and other toxins thanks to a few key organs which act as a natural filtration system for our body. Our liver, kidneys, and GI tract work 24/7/365 to remove harmful toxins from our bodies. The body primarily removes toxins via urine, feces, and sweat.


Why Is This Detoxification of Heavy Metals Important?

The body does a wonderful job of filtering out toxins. However, it still makes sense to help the body as much as we can. We help the body remove toxins more efficiently with lifestyle changes that promote the health of our organs. Why is this important? Well, because of all the negative side effects we could experience if heavy metals accumulate in our bodies. Harmful toxins from these heavy metals can lead to detrimental side effects such as:


  • multiple cancers
  • fertility problems
  • reproductive issues
  • metabolic disorders
  • cardiovascular diseases
  • mental health issues

Therefore, even though our bodies already do a great job at filtering out toxins, we need to help our bodies in any way we can. What we can do is eat right and make changes to our habits that will minimize the threat of heavy metals.


How Does Diet Help Detoxify From Heavy Metals?

For most of us, the easiest way to start detoxifying the body of heavy metals is by making tweaks to our meals. Because of this, I am going to give you 10 foods you can add to your meals every day to help you detoxify from heavy metal exposure and accumulation.


#1: Blueberries

While this list is in no particular order, blueberries are definitely my personal choice for the best detoxifying food. Blueberries are full of helpful antioxidants that serve to destroy free radicals that create oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress creates inflammation, and antioxidants get rid of inflammation. Free radicals form when heavy metals interact with proteins in the body. Consuming blueberries helps the lymphatic system detoxify from heavy metals.

When choosing blueberries, try to find organic blueberries free of pesticides and GMOs. Organic blueberries are smaller but have more antioxidants. You can buy organic blueberries at most grocery stores and some produce markets if they are in season. Blueberries also grow wild in some rural areas, so it might be worth exploring to find some wild blueberries.

Blueberries can be added to your diet in a number of ways. Some methods of adding blueberries to your diet include:


  • blended into smoothies
  • eaten raw
  • frozen
  • freeze-dried
  • added to yogurt
  • added to cereal
  • added to oatmeal
  • added to salads

The blueberry is a versatile berry that has some of the highest antioxidant levels in a berry.


#2: Garlic

Garlic is a common solution to arsenic exposure. This helpful vegetable helps the liver produce detoxification enzymes, making it invaluable for detoxing from heavy metals. Garlic does this because it contains sulfur. Sulfur helps the liver filter toxins more effectively.

Like blueberries, garlic is most helpful when it is organic. Similar to blueberries, garlic is versatile and can be prepared and consumed in many ways. Some methods of adding more garlic into your meals include:


  • adding garlic as an ingredient for salad dressings
  • cooking meat with garlic as a flavor enhancer
  • adding garlic to soups and stews
  • add garlic to dips and spreads
  • add garlic to your pizza
  • eat Mediterranean foods (garlic is a common ingredient)
  • eat more pesto (a spread that contains garlic)
  • infuse your cooking oils with garlic

These are just some of the ways you can eat more garlic daily and reap the detoxifying benefits they contain.


#3: Beetroots

Beets have an array of health benefits attached to them. One of those benefits is vasodilation. Beetroot contains nitrates. Nitrates convert into nitric oxide in the body. The body uses nitric oxide to expand the blood vessels. As a result, blood flows more effectively. This means nutrients and oxygen move throughout the body more efficiently. This efficiency also occurs in the liver. Beetroot also contains a host of vitamins and minerals that help the liver detoxify the body from heavy metals better. Some of these nutrients include vitamin B3, vitamin B6, vitamin C, iron, and zinc. Beets also contain a fiber component called betaine that promotes digestion. Since our GI tract is part of our filtration system, this is good news.

Beets are also quite versatile for daily meals. Some of the ways you can add beets to your meals include:


  • a salad ingredient
  • squeezed to make a juice
  • powdered as a mixed drink
  • taken as a capsule or lozenge supplement
  • roasted
  • pureed to be added to certain baked goods like cakes
  • used in soups and stews
  • blended in smoothies

The taste and texture of beets are not for everyone, but there are plenty of ways to get around that and add more beets to your daily meals.


#4: Leafy Greens And Other Green Vegetables

Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and arugula are usually at the top of most people’s detox foods, and for good reason. These green vegetables all contain chlorophyll, which promotes liver function and higher blood oxygen levels. Furthermore, green vegetables such as broccoli and cucumber also help the liver detoxify the body of heavy metals.

Since there are too many green vegetables to break down, some common ways to add more green vegetables into your daily meals in general include:


  • eaten raw as a snack
  • as a salad
  • steamed
  • boiled
  • added to soups and stews
  • blended into smoothies

Look for organic vegetables when shopping. On top of helping the body detoxify from heavy metals, leafy greens and other green vegetables have plenty of other health benefits as well.


#5: Onions

Similar to garlic, onions help our liver detoxify the body of heavy metals thanks to their sulfur concentration. Since sulfur aids in promoting detoxifying enzymes, it makes sense to eat more onions. While some onions often have a harsh taste and pungent smell, there are many types of onions with differing flavor profiles. Regardless of the onion you choose, they are edible in many ways. Some ways you can add more onion into your meals include:


  • soups and stews
  • sautèed with meats and/or mushrooms
  • on sandwiches
  • added to slices of bread
  • added to pasta

Aim for organic onions when you can.


Final Thoughts

Heavy metal exposure can cause all sorts of health problems. Excessive accumulation can even alter your very DNA function. While the body does a great job of filtering out heavy metals and toxins, we still need to give it a hand when we can. The easiest way is to add a few simple foods to our diet in order to help the body detoxify from heavy metals a little more effectively. Make sure you add a few of these foods into your diet asap to promote heavy metal detoxification. For more healthy living info, be sure to check out the rest of our blog here.



top 10 health benefits of beetroot

Top 10 Health Benefits Of Beetroot

Beetroot or the beet is a root vegetable packed with essential nutrients such as fiber, folate, potassium, and iron. Beetroot is also an excellent source of dietary nitrates which the body can use to produce nitric oxide. Because of all the nutrients in beetroot, beetroot is associated with multiple health benefits, including improved blood flow, lowering blood pressure, and more. In this article, we will go over some of the best health benefits associated with consuming beetroot or beetroot juice.


10 Health Benefits of Beetroot

While the taste and texture are not for everyone, there are plenty of reasons it might be worth finding a way to eat more beets. Let’s explore some of the best health benefits of beetroot. Then you can decide for yourself if it’s worth it to add beets to your diet.


1. They Are Nutrient-Dense

One of the best health benefits of beetroot is that it is low-calorie but packed full of valuable nutrients your body needs to function optimally. Beets are low fat, low carb, and high fiber. On top of that, beets contain many essential vitamins and minerals such as:


  • Folate (vitamin B9). Folate is important for tissue growth and cellular function.
  • Potassium. A high intake of potassium can reduce water retention and lower blood pressure.
  • Iron. A mineral that is necessary for oxygen transport within red blood cells.
  • Vitamin C. A powerful antioxidant that helps the immune system stay strong.
  • Manganese. A trace element that is responsible for helping the body form connective tissue. Manganese also helps with brain function.

With a wrap sheet like this and more, it is easy to see this root vegetable packs quite a punch for our overall health.


2. Beets Boost Nitric Oxide Levels

If you have read a few of our other articles, you may be aware that aging can create a nitric oxide deficiency. If not, I’ll provide a brief explanation. As we age, our body’s natural NO production decreases. It is unavoidable and begins as early as your late 20s. By the time you are approaching age 50, you are already producing only 50% of what you were producing at age 25. How do we combat this loss of NO production? By making lifestyle changes necessary to promote optimal NO production. The biggest changes you can make include increasing your activity level and improving your diet. 

As far as beetroot is concerned, eating more of them will boost your nitric oxide thanks to the nitrates found in them. The body converts nitrates into nitric oxide as you digest beets, so if you want to boost your nitric oxide levels, eating beets is one of the best ways to do so. 


3. Beets Lower blood pressure

Beetroot lowering blood pressure is definitely a health benefit worth exploring for most. High blood pressure is one of the most common risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and stroke. Furthermore, unless you are constantly checking your blood pressure, it is a risk factor that can unnoticed for a long time. High blood pressure can damage your blood vessels, arteries, and heart over time.

Eating specific fruits and vegetables such as beetroot can help reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease thanks to the reduced blood pressure. Studies have shown beetroot consumption lowers blood pressure for a few hours. This is assumed to be due to the increased nitric oxide levels from the nitrates in beets. Since this effect is only for a few hours, having beets in at least one meal or snack a day would go a long way in keeping your blood pressure in check.


4. Beetroot Improves Digestion

Some common digestive issues include:


  • bloating
  • constipation
  • indigestion
  • diarrhea
  • heartburn
  • stomach cramps

Obviously, this list is not exhaustive, and this could mean many things. However, what I want to highlight is that digestive problems are fairly common, affecting roughly 2/3 of people to some capacity. Beetroot can help with some of these problems. One of the health benefits of beetroot is its high fiber concentration. This means consuming more beets can make you more regular and help prevent constipation. Beets cannot help with all digestion issues, but if you struggle with bloating or constipation, adding more beets to your diet can certainly help alleviate some of these issues. As with any problem in the body, make sure you see a doctor to make sure it isn’t anything life-threatening.


5. They Help Improve Exercise Performance

Remember that I said changes to diet and exercise are the best ways to increase nitric oxide production? Well, one of the health benefits of beetroot is it can help improve exercise performance. Whether you are a newbie to fitness or a regular gym-goer, beetroot can increase your stamina and performance. This health benefit is once again due to the nitrate concentration found in beets. Since the intake of nitrates helps the body produce more nitric oxide, the body uses that nitric oxide to improve exercise performance. In turn, exercise helps the body produce more nitric oxide as well, so it creates a positive cycle once you get going.

In order to get these benefits in the gym, you can drink a glass of beetroot juice or eat some beetroot in a salad around 1-2 hours before you hit the gym. That way you have enough time to digest the food/juice and will be able to work out longer and harder (no pun intended).


6. Beetroot Helps Fight Cancer Cells

A potentially life-saving health benefit of consuming more beets is they may help fight cancer. This is believed to be due to the high antioxidant content of beetroot. Beets are a strong source of polyphenols, so are being looked at as a holistic method of fighting cancer. There was a 2021 study conducted that shows a positive correlation between supplementing with beetroot and chemopreventative properties, but more long-term studies are needed.


7. Beets Help With Weight Management

Like I said at the beginning of the article, beetroot is ideal for weight loss. This is because they are low-calorie, low-fat, and high-fiber. Here are some basic stats on the beetroot for your viewing pleasure.

Based on a serving size of one cup (136 grams) of beetroot:


  • Calories: 43
  • Water Content: ~88%
  • Protein: 1.6 grams (~3% of RDA)
  • Carbs: 9.6 grams (~13% of RDA)
  • Sugar: 6.8 grams (~7.5% of RDA)
  • Fiber: 2.8 grams (~2%-3% of RDA)
  • Fat: 0.2 grams (virtually no fat)

A great health benefit of high-fiber foods like beetroot is that they help you feel fuller longer. This means you won’t feel hungry as much. Add that to the already low-calorie content, and you have a great food option for weight loss.


8. Beetroot Helps Fight Inflammation

Another health benefit of beetroot is its antioxidant content. Beets contain polyphenols and betalains. These antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties. This means beets may help fight inflammation in humans. More research is needed to confirm this, but there is some promise for this health benefit. Polyphenols have more research on fighting inflammation than betalains, so either way, the antioxidants found in beets may help fight inflammation.


9. Beets Help Keep Bones Strong

None of us want weaker bones. We kind of need those to do anything. Thankfully, consuming beetroot may help strengthen bones. This is due to the magnesium content within beets. We need magnesium to keep our bones strong. Since a serving of beetroot contains roughly 6% of our daily magnesium needs, beetroot helps our bones stay strong and resilient as we age.


10. They Keep Our Liver Healthy

This health benefit is a big one. Beetroot contains antioxidants and enzymes that help detoxify the liver by increasing bile production. This not only helps protect the liver but also allows function more efficiently. Since the liver is the body’s main detoxifier, we want to do what we can to keep it healthy. Eating beetroot is certainly a good place to start.


How Can You Incorporate Beetroot Into Your Diet?

Beets are surprisingly versatile as far as options for adding them to a balanced diet. Beetroot can be eaten raw, canned, pickled, steamed, boiled, or roasted. Below I will list some common ways you can add more beetroot to your diet.


  • Beetroot juice (homemade or store-bought).
  • Beet powder (can be added to oatmeal, smoothies, or baked goods).
  • Chopped up and added to salads.
  • Crushed up and used in hummus or homemade dips.
  • Blend beets into smoothies.
  • Dice them up to add to a slaw.
  • Supplemented as a powder mix or lozenge to take on the go.


Of course, there are plenty of other ways to prepare beets (might be a future article). This is a good starting point to explore the best way to fit beets into your diet based on needs, preferences, and lifestyle.

As a final thought, make sure to do your research and make sure beetroot is a good choice for you. For most people, beets are safe for consumption. Get creative and find interesting ways to add beets to your diet. They are packed with tons of health benefits that one article just isn’t enough to cover (again…might be a future article). Be sure to share this new info with someone who needs a good reason to try beets. For more info on nitric oxide and other healthy living tips, check out the rest of our blog here.


8 best foods that lower blood pressure

8 Best Foods That Lower Blood Pressure

Some of the best foods that lower blood pressure are vegetables rich in nitrates you can buy at the grocery store or local produce market. These nitrate-rich foods are so helpful thanks to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide (NO) is a gas that the body naturally produces. NO plays a vital role in various functions in the body. Nitric oxide is a key contributor to our overall health and wellness. Nitric oxide also is responsible for a multitude of health benefits such as:


  • Bone Health
  • Immune Support
  • Brain Health
  • Lung health
  • Skin Health

Thankfully, many foods high in nitrates serve as a natural NO booster once eaten.


How Do Nitrates Convert Into Nitric Oxide?

There are a few ways to produce nitric oxide in the body. One of these ways is through the conversion of nitrates from vegetables. This begins as soon as you eat these vegetables. While we are chewing up the vegetables, the oral bacteria convert nitrates into nitrite. As this food and nitrites begin going through the digestive system into the GI tract, nitrite converts into nitric oxide.


What Does This Conversion Have To Do With Lower Blood Pressure?

Simply put, one of nitric oxide’s big roles in the body is lowering blood pressure. This means any vegetables high in nitrates and other NO precursors are also great for lowering blood pressure. Any nitric oxide booster will also help lower blood pressure so for that alone, it is worth eating some of the foods we will go over. Nitric oxide helps to lower blood pressure via vasodilation. This is the expansion of blood vessels in the presence of nitric oxide. As blood vessels expand, blood can flow better. This in turn allows for more efficient oxygen and nutrient delivery throughout the body. However, for today, all we are focusing on is lowering blood pressure.

Why does this matter? High blood pressure is one of the most common risk factors reserach assicates with an increased risk of heart disease. Fortunately for us, it is a risk we can take action against to reduce or offset significantly with the right lifestyle changes.


A Change In Diet Can Lower Blood Pressure

One of these changes easy enough to make is a change in diet. A strong heart-healthy diet includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean protein sources. This article will list several foods that will improve your heart health and lower blood pressure by boosting nitric oxide naturally.


Foods That Will Lower Blood Pressure


1. Beets And Beetroot

Beets and beetroot are one of the best sources of dietary nitrates. Not only that, beets contain high levels of potassium, which is also helpful in regulating blood pressure. While promoting lower blood pressure, beets also carry other health benefits such as improved exercise performance. There have been studies that show consuming beets can lower blood pressure levels in older and overweight individuals.

Because of the support beets have for reducing blood pressure, they are best to consume as often as possible. Furthermore, the leafy green part of the beet is also edible, so don’t skip out on it.

Try to get fresh beets from the produce section as this will contain the densest concentration of nutrients. Beets can be cooked and eaten in salads, used as a base for hummus, and can be blended into smoothies. Beets are also popular in certain slaws and mashed to be used as a dip or spread.


2. Arugula

This spicy leafy green has probably one of the highest concentrations of nitrates in nature, even more so than beets in some measurements. Arugula has studies that show consuming it can help with endothelial function and blood pressure regulation. Adding arugula to your diet may help lower blood pressure due to the high level of nitrate found in it.

Arugula is great cooked or uncooked. It makes a great addition to salads, on sandwiches, as a pizza topper, and as a garnish in soups and pasta.


3. Kale

Kale is another leafy green vegetable with a high nitrate concentration. This means since nitrates convert into nitric oxide, consuming kale may help lower blood pressure. Eating kale also has a reputation for promoting a healthy microbiome in the mouth. Kale also contains antioxidants such as quercetin which help destroy free radicals that inhibit nitric oxide production.

Kale is a common ingredient in various salads. Furthermore, you can add kale to your diet by blending it in smoothies and cooking it. However you want to consume kale, doing so may help lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation in the body.


4. Spinach

Not only does this popular leafy green contain adequate levels of nitrates, but also contains high levels of potassium, folate, and magnesium. Furthermore, spinach contains lutein. Lutein helps prevent artery walls from thickening. This reduces the risk of high blood pressure and stroke.

Spinach can be eaten cooked or uncooked. It is great in a salad or smoothie. They are also great steamed or sautéed. If you are serious about lowering your blood pressure, spinach is a tasty and healthy addition to your diet.


5. Celery

Celery is a popular vegetable for those looking to lose weight. This vegetable also has a decent nitrate concentration as well as compounds called phthalides. These compounds may act similar to nitric oxide by relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.

Like many vegetables, celery is great consumed raw or cooked. A common snack is celery dipped in a variety of sauces and and spreads. These include hummus, peanut butter, cheese sauce, and dressings.


6. Cucumber

This vegetable breaks away from the nitrate-rich options, but still has merit for lowering blood pressure. Cucumber is a great source of L-citrulline, an amino acid that helps produce NO in the body. L-citrulline converts into L-arginine in the body, which is then further converted into nitric oxide. Another reason to add cucumbers to your diet is because they are rich in potassuim. Potassium helps to reduce water retenion brought on by excess sodium. Because of this, potassium helps to lower blood pressure.

Cucumbers are enjoyed raw mostly, sliced up and eaten as is, lightly salted, or dipped in your favorite sauces and spreads such as hummus and dressings. You can also chop them up for a salad and even add them to your drinking water. Any way you want to slice it, cucumbers are an excellent choice for reducing blood pressure.


7. Mixed Berries

Since this article is not just about vegetables that can lower blood pressure (might be a later article), it seems fitting to branch out and add some other healthy foods. For me, this includes berries. Berries are a delcious and healthy treat you should absolutely have in your diet. Berries are potentially able to help reduce blood pressure as well as benefit the body in various other ways. One of the biggest benefits to eating berries are the antioxidants. Most berries have tons of antioxidants such as anthocyanins, flavanoids, and quercetin. In particular, berries containing anthocyanins are able to increase nitric oxide levels in the body, which means the vasodilation resulting from the nitric oxide will reduce blood pressure.

Some of the berries with anthocyanins and other nitric oxide boosting antioxidants include:


  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Pomegranate
  • Cranberries
  • Blackberries
  • Elderberries

These are all best eaten raw. Give them a quick rinse and just eat a couple handfuls of them to reap the benefits. Berries are low-calorie and nutrient-dense so are a great snack. You can also add them to salads or smoothies.


8. Beans And Lentils

If you are in need of a protein source that is not meat but still has health benefits, here you go. While a lean meat is best for protein, beans and other lentils still have plenty of protein and help lower blood pressure thanks to the fiber and potassium they contain.

Beans need to be cooked to be eaten, and must be cooked thoroughly to avoid certain stomach issues such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Certain beans contain lectin, a protein that causes intestinal distress if beans are not cooked thoroughly. However, not all beans contain lectic, so just be mindful of your choice in bean. Make sure you follow the soaking and cooking instructions that come with your choice of bean. A good rule of thumb is to soak them overnight before you cook them, and let them boil for at least an hour or until tender. There are canned and pre-cooked options in stores as well if you are worried about doing them wrong or do not want to take the time to prep them. Beans are great alone or paired with other foods such as rice, meat, and vegetables.


Choosing The Right Foods To Lower Blood Pressure

Just to clarify, there are certainly more than eight foods that will help lower blood pressure. This list serves as a starting point. There are numerous factors that will dictate what foods you choose to add to your diet. Some of those factors include:


  • Diet you currently follow
  • Dietary preference
  • Food allergies
  • Food sensitivities such as gluten
  • Diet needed based on medically-diagnosed nutrient deficiencies such as anemia

Be sure to consult your doctor if you are worried about adding a specific food to your diet. For most people, these foods are generally safe and healthy choices. Be sure to do your due diligence and find foods that are right for your needs and lifestyle.

All of these listed will help you lower your blood pressure, but if you want to look for others, look for foods high in nitrates, L-citrulline, and L-arginine as a starting point. Foods high in potassium and magnesium will also help as well.

Be sure to share this article with someone who needs help lowering their blood pressure. For more education on nitric oxide and living a healthy life, check out the rest of our blog here.



8 essental steps for cardiovascular health

8 Essential Steps For Cardiovascular Health

As we get older, we become more susceptible to a multitude of illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular health problems. Aging is a natural and beautiful process but can become scary if you are not taking the necessary steps to stay healthy. Your heart health is vital to a happy and healthy existence. With this in mind, this article will explore actionable steps you can take today to improve your current cardiovascular health and live your best life.


What Is Cardiovascular Health?

Cardiovascular health refers to the overall health status of your heart and blood vessels. Your heart pumps blood and your blood vessels deliver essential oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. The efficiency of this blood delivery can affect your energy and stamina, your immune system function, your brain health, your lung health, and so much more. Therefore it is vital that you do what you can to keep your heart and blood vessels healthy and functioning optimally.


The Importance Of Cardiovascular Health

I feel like this should not have to be explained, but just in case I am wrong, here are some basic facts and statistics about cardiovascular health:


  • Cardiovascular disease (heart disease) is the leading cause of death for people in the U.S.
  • Roughly 1 out of 5 deaths in 2020 were from cardiovascular disease
  • Roughly one person dies every 34 seconds in the U.S as a result of cardiovascular disease.
  • The most common cardiovascular disease is coronary heart disease, which killed over 382,000 people in 2020 alone.
  • Someone suffers from a heart attack in the U.S. roughly every 40 seconds.


Risk Factors Of Cardiovascular Disease

Do these facts bother you? They should. These statistics are only likely to grow worse if people do not create changes in their daily habits and lifestyle to prevent the onset of risk factors of cardiovascular health problems from setting in. Risk factors of cardiovascular disease include:


You need to be taking steps to avoid these risk factors from developing to give yourself the best chance to avoid developing any cardiovascular health problems. What steps do you need to take? Let’s explore those now.


8 Steps For Protecting Your Cardiovascular Health

I would like to say right out of the gate that these steps are not everything you can do to promote good cardiovascular health, but are merely a starting place to get you on the right path. With that out of the way, let’s jump into 8 steps you can take today to improve your cardiovascular health and keep your heart and blood vessels functioning at maximum efficiency.


Step 1: Stop Smoking

The carcinogens and other chemicals found in cigarettes create an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease. In fact, despite the almost common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health, millions of Americans still continue to smoke. If you want to protect your cardiovascular health, the best thing for you to do is quit smoking. Smoking tobacco can easily lead to addiction due to nicotine, so quitting is easier said than done. However, there are some healthier alternatives to reducing or quitting smoking altogether if you are willing to put forth the effort. Some options for those looking to quit include:


  • Counseling
  • Nicotine replacement therapy (patches, gum, lozenges, etc.)
  • Medication
  • Develop a support system for accountability
  • Avoid triggers
  • Keep your mind busy with new hobbies, activities, etc.
  • Develop a reward system for curbing the habit
  • Be patient with yourself because breaking long-term habits takes time.

Add some of these tips to your arsenal and quitting smoking will be a little easier. Trust me, it will be worth it when you’re older and your heart and lungs are in good condition.


Step 2: Promote Cardiovascular Health By Eating Right

The foods you eat have the greatest impact on your overall health. Because of this, your diet is a double-edged sword that is either your greatest weapon or will kill you faster. However, eating a heart-healthy diet is not very difficult. A diet that would promote good cardiovascular health would consist of fruits and veggies, lean meats, fish, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Foods to avoid would be heavily processed foods, excessive sugar, and foods high in saturated and trans fats. Below I will list a few diets that are great for promoting heart health.


  • The Mediterranean Diet
  • The DASH diet
  • Veganism
  • Vegetarianism
  • Variations of low-carb diets

All of these have different parameters but serve to limit processed foods and foods high in sugar, saturated fats, and trans fats while promoting whole grains, lean protein, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and veggies.


Step 3: Be More Active

Similar to diet, exercise is one of those tools that can benefit or harm you depending on how you use it. To promote cardiovascular health, you need to be more active. Unfortunately, we live in a modern world where we spend most days sitting at a desk, sitting in a car, or sitting on a couch. Obviously, you do not have to spend hours killing yourself in the gym to avoid cardiovascular disease, but you do need to sit less if you want to avoid some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease development such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Daily activity is all you need to offset those risk factors. It can be as simple as a 10-15 brisk walk every day. Another thing you can do to move more is when you are at home or anywhere where you are sitting for long durations of time, get up and move around every 15, 30, 45, or 60 minutes for 1-2 minutes. Some other life hacks for increasing your daily activity include:


  • Taking the stairs when possible
  • Parking farther away from the doors
  • Walk instead of drive whenever you can
  • Move during commercial breaks when watching TV

It is small steps like this done consistently over time that have an impact. Get moving, and stay consistent. Your heart will thank you later.


Step 4: Lose Weight

This step is very similar to step 3, but here the focus is on losing weight rather than just moving more. This will require a little more activity than just taking the stairs, but you still don’t have to kill yourself for hours in the gym to see results here. Obesity is a big risk factor associated with heart disease, so losing weight will not only improve your cardiovascular health but also improve your quality of life. Here are some ways you can lose weight without killing yourself with intense workouts for hours at the gym:


  • Increase protein intake. Protein is very filling, so eating more protein will make you feel fuller longer, which will reduce your caloric intake over time and help you lose weight.
  • Hydrate. Drinking water regularly not only helps you feel full but also helps the body avoid retaining water weight. Drinking water should be something you do plenty of every day.
  • Eat smaller portions. Consuming fewer calories will lead to weight loss.
  • Move more. Increasing daily activity will burn more calories, increasing the amount of weight you can lose.

These are just a few tips you can implement today to help you on your weight loss journey. Healthy weight loss takes time, so avoid detoxes, juice diets, weight loss teas, and other “fast results” methods. Most of these are scams and the results are not permanent. The only truly permanent solution to losing weight is diet and exercise. Manipulate these to make sure you are burning more calories than you are consuming, and you will eventually lose weight and keep it off.


Step 5: Avoid Eating Too Much

We all tend to overindulge a bit during the holidays, and for most of us, that’s okay. It’s when this becomes a habit that your cardiovascular health becomes at risk. When you overeat, the heart has to push more blood to the digestive system to compensate for the extra work the stomach has to do to digest all that food. If this becomes a habit, there is less blood available for other organs. Another issue with overeating is this can lead to faster or irregular heart rhythm. This in turn can lead to an increased risk of a heart attack.

To avoid overeating, here are a few tips you can implement.


  • Eat slowly
  • Eat smaller portions
  • Have more protein with your meals
  • Limit distractions such as phones and TV during meals
  • Drink more water

These tips will help you limit your overeating and decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular problems.


Step 6: Less Stress = Better Cardiovascular Health

It should be no surprise that stress is bad for you. However, stress can be a silent killer that many do not expect. How is this? The body has literally hundreds of different responses to stress, and some of those responses are harmful to your cardiovascular health. A couple of responses to stress include increased heart rate, a spike in blood pressure, and rapid breathing. High blood pressure is a particularly harmful stress response. If you are consistently stressed, your blood pressure could remain high over time, increasing the risk of heart disease or other cardiovascular problems.

Learning to manage stress will help you avoid creating a stress cycle. Some helpful tips for managing stress include:


  • Nose breathing and other slow breathing patterns
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness exercises
  • Yoga
  • Developing fun hobbies

Try a few of these today or do a little research and find some other ways to reduce stress that fit your lifestyle.


Step 7: Have An Attitude Of Gratitude

I know this step might sound cheesy, but just taking a few moments each day to count your blessings and be thankful for the good things in your life can improve your cardiovascular health. Some ways to practice gratitude include:


  • Start a daily gratitude journal
  • Verbally list 1-3 things you are grateful for each morning
  • Take a gratitude walk
  • Leave yourself notes around the house or office of things you are grateful for

As you can see, it does not take much to develop an attitude of gratitude. It can take as little as 10-15 seconds a day. Doing this can reduce blood pressure and stress by releasing positive emotions to counteract the negative emotions causing stress. This is one of those ways that we can see in action the old saying, “where the mind goes, the body follows.”


Step 8: Boost Your Cardiovascular Health With Nitric Oxide

Nitric oxide is a powerful signaling molecule and vasodilator. This means it dilates the blood vessels, making blood flow more effective. This in turn lowers blood pressure and helps nutrients and oxygen get delivered more efficiently throughout the body. There are plenty of other benefits to boosting nitric oxide, but for today’s topic, vasodilation is the one we want to focus on. Diet and exercise can both increase your body’s natural nitric oxide production. However, if you are older, you might need a supplement. A supplement containing dietary nitrates or the amino acids L-citrulline and L-arginine will all convert into nitric oxide when consumed.

Some other ways to boost nitric oxide include:


  • Exercise
  • Getting sunlight exposure
  • Eating lots of fruits and veggies
  • Eating lots of leafy greens


Final Thoughts

Aging can be beautiful and terrifying all at once. It is something that is inevitable and happens to us all. What we can do is take steps to ensure we are as healthy as possible as we age. For more healthy living tips, check out the rest of our blog.


6 more drinks to boost nitric oxide levels

6 More Drinks To Boost Nitric Oxide Levels

You didn’t think there were only six options, did you? Well if you thought those were it, you were wrong. Just in case you did not read up on the last article, this article will briefly describe the importance of nitric oxide as well as cover six more drinks you can sip on to boost your nitric oxide levels.


What Benefits Does Boosting Nitric Oxide Have?

Nitric oxide (NO) is considered by many to be one of the most important molecules for overall health and wellness. I’m hoping by now many of you understand how vital NO is for your body, but just in case you don’t, I will cover the basics here. Nitric oxide is a molecule naturally produced in the body. It is essential for a long list of body functions such as intracellular communication, acting as a neurotransmitter, and creating a strong vascular system. Most of the benefits derived from NO stem from its role as a vasodilator. Vasodilation is the process of relaxing the smooth muscles within the lining of vessels. As this occurs, the vessels expand and blood is able to flow more efficiently. This also allows more oxygen and nutrients to flow throughout the body effectively.

Because of vasodilation, we reap many benefits from boosting our nitric oxide levels. Some of those benefits include:


  • Better skin health
  • Faster wound healing
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better breathing
  • More energy
  • Reduced muscle soreness
  • Better sleep

This list is far from exhaustive, but should clearly demonstrate the importance of boosting your nitric oxide levels.


Why Boost Nitric Oxide Levels If We Naturally Produce It?

Just in case you missed my last article, nitric oxide production declines as we age. After age 25 your natural NO production will begin to decline. By the time you are in your 50s, you will be producing only 50% of what you could produce at 25. Because of this, you want to get an early jump on supplementing your body with the tools it needs to keep your nitric oxide levels as high as possible. Furthermore, NO has a short half-life and gets depleted quickly, so we have to keep production high to offset the rapid depletion. One way we can do this is through what we put in our mouths. I am specifically talking about drinks right now. We will touch on foods later.

In the last article, we covered these juices as drinks that could boost your nitric oxide levels:


  • Beetroot Juice
  • Red Spinach Juice
  • Red Wine
  • Celery Juice
  • Arugula-Dominant Greens Juice
  • Watermelon Juice

Today, we are going to look at six more drinks that can boost your nitric oxide levels.


6 More Drinks That Will Boost Nitric Oxide Levels

Hopefully, some of these drinks are already in your diet. If not, maybe this article will change that. I do want to preface this list by stating that these drinks will not all directly boost nitric oxide levels the same way as the last list. When I say NO booster, I also mean work to increase the lifespan of NO in the body. So drinks that include antioxidants or key nutrients that will slow down the depletion of NO due to oxidative stress are included as a nitric oxide boosting drink. Each drink on here will aid in boosting nitric oxide levels in some way, even if it is not immediately obvious as to how. Sow now, let’s get into this list.


1. Milk

If you are a vegan or are lactose intolerant, this one might not be for you. However, if you can and like to consume milk, it can help boost your nitric oxide levels. How? Milk contains roughly 0.20 grams of arginine per serving. Arginine is an amino acid the body uses to produce nitric oxide. There are other foods you can eat that are higher in arginine than milk, but milk is still a great way to get more arginine in your diet for boosting nitric oxide production. If you do not like whole milk, plenty of other milk substitutes such as oat milk, almond milk, and cashew milk also contain arginine. Being a dairy product, yogurt also contains arginine, so if you do not like these as individual items, consider blending these with some fruits and veggies to make a delicious smoothie to boost your nitric oxide levels!


2. Cucumber Juice

Cucumbers are a great source of citrulline. Citrulline is an amino acid the body can use to produce NO. This works by converting citrulline into arginine, which is then converted into NO. Some argue that since citrulline just gets converted into arginine, it is better to just consume arginine-containing products, but some research suggests consuming citrulline creates more arginine bioavailability than just consuming arginine. However, since both are used to promote NO production, you should consume healthy amounts of both amino acids through your diet or supplements. Cucumber juice is not only a good source of citrulline, but also a good source of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. These vitamins help slow down the depletion of nitric oxide. You can drink cucumber juice as it is, or add lemon and ginger for a zesty and hydrating drink.


3. Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice is one of those things that does not directly lead to NO production but boosts nitric oxide levels based on antioxidant properties. Pomegranates are an excellent source of antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium. Antioxidants work by eliminating the free radicals in the body that create oxidative stress. Oxidative stress depletes NO faster and inhibits the body’s ability to produce NO naturally, so we want to get rid of those free radicals. Pomegranate juice contains powerful antioxidants that will help nitric oxide stick around longer to give us all those wonderful benefits we need to stay healthy. Pomegranate juice is sweet, so it can easily be consumed by itself or added to a vegetable juice or smoothie to naturally sweeten it. If you have insulin sensitivity, be sure to check the sugar content to avoid unwanted spikes.


4. Blueberry Juice

This one may sound weird, but it’s a thing. You can make this at home by pressing some blueberries or blending them with a little water. It is a little harder to find blueberry juice bottled, and it is usually mixed with other fruits and berries when you do find it bottled. For this, we want just the blueberries. Why is this? Blueberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidants you can get your hand on. One particular type of antioxidant blueberries has high concentrations of is anthocyanins, which are found in red, purple, and blue fruits. These antioxidants have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Blueberries also contain loads of other nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, and manganese which all work toward supporting healthy body functions. Blueberry juice is naturally sweet, so it is great to drink alone or to add to other juices as a natural sweetener. Blueberry juice is great first thing in the morning for a natural energy boost and nitric oxide level booster to start the day right!


5. Mixed Berry Juices

Now that we have distinguished blueberries, we can look at the mixed berry juices. Juices that contain strawberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, and goji berries all contain antioxidants that fortify cells against the damage that oxidative stress can cause. Here is a concise list of the antioxidants you can get when you drink a juice containing these berries:


  • Strawberries. Contains the antioxidant pelargonidin, which is an anthocyanin. Also contains ellagitannins and procyanidins.
  • Cranberries. Contains antioxidants such as quercetin, myricetin, peonidin, and ursolic acid.
  • Blackberries. Contains antioxidants such as tannins, ellagic acid, anthocyanins, and cyanidins.
  • Raspberries. This berry contains an antioxidant profile similar to strawberries, with antioxidants such as ellagic acid and quercetin.
  • Goji Berries. These berries contain antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin, among others.

Most berries have a sweet or sour flavor profile, making them great to drink as is or blended with other fruits and/or veggies into a smoothie.


6. Green Tea

Green tea is one of the most recommended health drinks on the planet, and for good reason. This type of tea is loaded with polyphenols, which help protect the body from inflammation. Green tea also contains antioxidants such as catechins which help protect cells from damage. This means oxidative stress won’t cause as much trouble by inhibiting nitric oxide production. Furthermore, green tea contains essential vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and multiple B vitamins. Some sources say that when choosing a green tea blend go for the high-quality options. Choosing a cheaper, low-quality green tea may contain excess fluoride, which inhibits NO production. So go find a high-quality green tea and boost those nitric oxide levels. Green tea is great as is or you can add a little honey if you like it on the sweeter side.


Are There Other Drinks That Can Boost Nitric Oxide Levels?

Simply put, yes. There is no limit to the drinks you can use to boost your nitric oxide levels. Some other drinks that can boost your nitric oxide levels in some capacity include:


  • lemon juice
  • lime juice
  • suped-up water (water with fruits/veggies added to it
  • plain old water
  • herbal teas
  • apple juice
  • tomato juice

Yes, the list goes on! If it is a fruit or vegetable that can be made into a juice, chances are it has some properties that boost nitric oxide levels to some capacity.


Can I Use Only Drinks To Boost Nitric Oxide Levels?

No. There are plenty of foods that you can eat to boost your nitric oxide levels. Furthermore, you can make some daily habit changes to boost your nitric oxide levels as well. Some tips you can implement today to bolster your NO levels include:


  • limiting mouthwash use
  • go for a brisk 15-minute walk
  • practice nose breathing
  • get a little sunlight
  • get rid of your cigarettes


Final Thoughts

There are some other tips and tricks you can use to boost your nitric oxide levels, but this is a great start for making the changes necessary to keep your nitric oxide levels as high as possible as you get older. Implement the tips above and add some of these juices to your diet today and set yourself up for success. Nitric oxide is too essential of a molecule for you to not prioritize boosting your nitric oxide levels. For more healthy living tips and information on nitric oxide, check out the rest of our blog.



These foods kill nitric oxide

These Foods Kill Nitric Oxide

This article is likely to attack your guilty pleasure foods, so I’m apologizing right now in advance. I like junk food and fast food as much as the next guy, but the foods in this article are KILLING your nitric oxide levels. Why does this matter? Good question. Let’s explore the importance of nitric oxide as well as the foods we enjoy that kill our nitric oxide levels.

Let’s face it, most of us are suckers for crunchy foods, sweet foods, deep-fried foods, and other delicious guilty pleasures we all know are bad for our health. Some of us use these foods for comfort, for celebration, and for every occasion in between. However, despite the textures and flavors we crave from these foods, they come at a cost. We pay that cost with our vitality and health. In terms of health, the price is high blood pressure, high cholesterol, an increased risk of becoming obese, and more. In terms of vitality, the price is becoming sedentary, developing a lack of stamina and energy, and of course the death of nitric oxide.


Why Killing Nitric Oxide Is So Detrimental To Our Health

Nitric oxide (NO) is a gaseous molecule produced naturally in the body. It dilates our blood vessels and helps our cells communicate, among a plethora of other health benefits. The dilation of blood vessels is known as vasodilation, and this is the most important function NO has in our body for keeping us healthy. When blood vessels dilate, they widen and allow for greater blood flow. This improves the delivery of oxygen and key nutrients throughout the body. As I already said, nitric oxide is naturally produced in the body. However, as we age this production naturally decreases. This means we have to work harder to keep our nitric oxide levels up as we age.

Unfortunately, many of the foods we enjoy only kill nitric oxide faster rather than preserve it. These foods not only kill our nitric oxide levels, but they have detrimental outcomes for our overall health and unforeseen consequences for those that are dear to us. Nobody wants to watch someone they love consistently make poor food choices that hurt themselves and those around them. Our food choices have multiple consequences such as:


  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Relational Health
  • Financial Health

Let’s explore these consequences a little before diving more into the specific foods that will kill your nitric oxide levels.


Physical Health

This one is the most obvious for most people. When we consume foods that are overly processed, sugary, high in saturated fats, etc., we develop a multitude of health problems. Some of these include:


  • High blood pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Increased risk of diabetes
  • Risk of becoming overweight/obese
  • Poor circulation

Other factors such as activity level, genetics, and environmental factors are at play as well. However, no one can deny that nutrition plays one of the biggest roles in overall health. As the saying goes, “you are what you eat.” We have to make good food choices to avoid killing our nitric oxide and developing these health problems.


Mental Health

This one is starting to get more attention in recent years but still needs to be addressed. Our mental health controls much of our physical actions. Many people turn to comfort foods to address mental health struggles, which only serves to increase physical health problems. People look to junk foods to cope with issues such as anxiety, depression, chronic stress, acute stress, grief, and more. So if we want to improve our physical health, we must also improve our mental health. Some quick tips for better coping strategies than eating foods that kill nitric oxide include:


  • Exercise
  • Set small goals for yourself
  • Set up a healthier reward system
  • Choose healthier comfort foods
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Spend time in nature
  • Spend time with friends/family
  • Engage in writing/journaling to express your emotions


Relational Health

Most of you might not have considered this consequence of food choices, but how you eat has a ripple effect that intersects with your relationships. These relationships can include significant others, friends, family, coworkers, and just members of your community. All of these are relationships that you are a part of. Your food choices can negatively impact all of these. Not only can poor food choices kill nitric oxide, but they can create problems in your marriage, problems in your friendships, problems at work, and so on. Obviously, some of these are less likely than others, but still in the realm of possibility if your food choices are taken too far too often. Your choices do not affect just you. Every choice you make has a greater impact than you might realize.


Financial Health

This consequence again is contextual. Junk food is in some cases cheaper than healthier options depending on where you live. However, over time those purchases can add up in a big way. Let’s say you buy a basic cheeseburger and fries meal three times a week because your schedule is hectic and you don’t think you have time to cook. If this meal costs approximately $8 per meal, you are spending $24 per week on fast food. That’s $96 per month and $1,152 per year. That cost adds up over time. Imagine the healthier foods and other purchases you could make if you weren’t spending over $1,100 per year on junk food.


How One Bad Meal Can Kill Nitric Oxide

Just to put the importance of food choices in perspective, there was a study conducted looking at how fast food affects nitric oxide. After just one meal, endothelial health was hindered for about 6 hours post-meal. The endothelium is where NO is produced. The meal led to tighter blood vessels and the endothelium function was impaired. While this effect is temporary, if you eat like this often, these effects last longer and take longer to recover from.

The impairment happens due to the free radicals released from fast food that create high oxidative stress. This oxidative stress inhibits NO production. Free radicals literally kill nitric oxide molecules. Making good food choices matters!


Which Foods Kill Nitric Oxide?

Now that we have discussed the impacts of poor food choices not just on nitric oxide, but on overall health and quality of life, it’s time to call out the foods that kill nitric oxide.


1. High Salt Foods

A high-salt content is common in heavily-processed foods because it enhances the flavor. A little bit of salt is good for you because it can replenish electrolytes in the body. However, too much salt restricts blood vessels. This can lead to high blood pressure and an increased risk of cardiovascular problems. Studies have also shown that excess salt intake reduces nitric oxide production substantially. Research shows salt usage should not exceed 5 grams per day. The World Health Organization cautions against consuming more than 1 teaspoon of salt daily to reduce the risk of developing rdiovcaascular problems.

Foods that are high in salt you should avoid include:


  • Canned veggies
  • Salad dressings
  • Chips
  • Salted nuts and seeds
  • Pre-packaged foods


2. High Saturated Fat Foods

This one is where fast food really shines. Most fast food options come packed with saturated and trans fats. These foods have been shown to reduce endothelial function for several hours after each meal. If you eat fast food all day, it can lead to 18-24 hours of endothelial impairment. Furthermore, eating foods high in saturated fats can lead to the development of high cholesterol, particularly your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL). As a general rule of thumb, you want your high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) to be high and your LDL to be low. Unfortunately, foods high in saturated fats raise your LDL, which is bad. Having high LDL reduces nitric oxide production. Since fast food is high in saturated fats and trans fats, your LDL will skyrocket over time.

If you want to avoid killing your nitric oxide, stay away from these foods high in trans and saturated fats:


  • Fried foods such as french fries
  • Fast food
  • Cooking oils
  • Fried processed foods such as potato chips
  • Bacon
  • Hot dogs
  • Processed meats


3. Sugary Foods

I am a huge fan of sweets, but unfortunately, too much sugar can kill nitric oxide. Studies have shown that a high glucose diet leads to a drop in nitric oxide production. We can avoid this by watching our sugar intake to avoid sugar spikes. Foods that are high in glucose include:


  • White bread
  • White rice
  • Milk
  • Syrup
  • Candy
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Ice cream
  • Doughnuts
  • Sugary drinks
  • High starch foods such as potatoes
  • Pasta

Substitute these white grains with foods such as quinoa, beans, and of course fruits and veggies. You do not have to cut all sweets, but you want to keep your sugar intake to no more than 24-36 grams per day to avoid the negative effects of excess sugar consumption.


Be Mindful To Not Kill Nitric Oxide

While it is essential to avoid foods that kill nitric oxide, you can also look into ways to boost nitric oxide as well to offset poor food choices. An occasional slip-up is something you can bounce back from. The key is making sure you are being mindful of your food choices as often as you can to avoid killing your nitric oxide. We all need that molecule as plentiful as we can keep it. Make sure you share this article with your family and friends. To learn more about healthy living tips and the importance of nitric oxide, check out the rest of our blog here.



nitric oxide supporting lung health

How Nitric Oxide Supports Lung Health

When you think about your lung health, I doubt nitric oxide comes to mind. For some readers, this may be the first you are hearing about nitric oxide, to begin with. So the goal of this article is to provide an overview of what nitric oxide is, how it specifically benefits lung health, some other benefits of nitric oxide, and a few tips on increasing your nitric oxide levels.

Nitric oxide (NO) provides countless benefits to your body. The major benefits discussed today are lung health support and immune support. Just to clarify early on, I may use respiratory health and lung health interchangeably, but for the purposes of this article, they mean the same thing. NO’s impact on the body benefits energy production, circulation, stamina, recovery, and so much more.


What Is Nitric Oxide?

This gaseous molecule produced naturally in the body is more important than many people realize. It is chemically comprised of one nitrogen atom and one oxygen atom. Sometimes it can be confused with nitrous oxide (N20). Nitrous oxide has two nitrogen atoms instead of one, which changes its structure and uses entirely. The body uses 3 main compounds to produce NO. These are the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline, and nitrates found in your diet.

NO was recognized for its benefits to the cardiovascular system in 1998 when a few scientists won the Nobel prize for discovering how NO expands blood vessels and regulates blood pressure. Since 1998, thousands of other studies have been conducted on NO and its benefits. These studies show that nitric oxide plays a vital role in systems such as the respiratory system, immune system, bone support, brain support, and so on.


Nitric Oxide For Lung Health

Make no mistake, the biggest role played by NO is in keeping our hearts healthy and our blood pressure regulated. A role nitric oxide does not get enough credit for is the role in sustaining our lung health. Within the respiratory system, NO works to promote the dilation of blood vessels. NO also promotes the expansion of airways to the lungs. The fact that NO is a vasodilator is the biggest role it plays in the body. However, NO does not get noticed enough for how vasodilation improves lung health. Furthermore, NO promotes mucus secretion within the bronchial wall that supports proper lung function. Also, since NO acts as a signaling molecule, it can signal neurotransmitters within those bronchial walls that further promote proper lung function.

Essentially, NO provides:


  • expanded blood vessels for circulation
  • expanded airways for optimal oxygen intake
  • mucus secretion for air temperature and lung function
  • neurotransmitter signaling for proper lung function

Another role NO plays in lung health relates to blood flow. NO not only promotes efficient blood flow, but also efficient delivery of oxygen and nutrients via red blood cells. This efficient supply of oxygen allows the lungs and other tissues in the respiratory system to operate effectively.


What Happens To Our Lung Health If Nitric Oxide Is Lacking?

Simply put, sub-optimal nitric oxide production can lead to sub-optimal lung health. This is because a reduction in available NO means the lungs cannot function as effectively. When our lungs do not work as well as they should, oxygen is not delivered throughout the body as effectively when we inhale. So if blood flow and oxygen utilization are failing in the lungs, this failure spreads to other parts of the body as well.

We want our respiratory system to work at optimal capacity. It is because of this that research is being conducted to look into being able to inhale nitric oxide for those with a weaker respiratory system. This method of increasing NO levels very well could save lives one day if other methods of increasing NO are not working. However, rest assured there are plenty of other ways to promote NO production, and we will cover some of those soon.


Apart From Lung Health, What Additional Benefits Does Nitric Oxide Offer?

NO has its hands in a lot of cookie jars so to speak. NO plays an essential role as a vasodilator, an intracellular communicator, and a signaling molecule mostly. However, some of the other important functions NO plays a role in include:


  • Supporting brain health and cognitive function by acting as a signaling molecule between neurons. NO supports memory and helps prevents the onset of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
  • Supports the immune system by fending off foreign intruders and providing red blood cells with oxygen and nutrients
  • Dilates arteries, which improves blood flow and regulates blood pressure.
  • Improves muscle recovery
  • Promotes energy
  • Improves stamina and endurance
  • Promotes skin health
  • Helps protect the skin from UV damage

As stated already, the biggest role NO is known for is vasodilation. This process gives rise to many of the benefits NO provides the body. NO relaxes the smooth muscles within the linings of the endothelium in your vessels, and this allows the vessels to expand, or dilate. Vessel dilation is what improves heart health, muscular health, blood pressure, and lung health.


How Do We Increase Our Nitric Oxide Levels?

NO is a molecule we just cannot have too much of, especially since it has a brief half-life and we start producing less naturally by our mid-20s. It is unfortunate that as we age we make less and less ourselves. Luckily, it is easy to replenish. How do we do this? The easiest ways to increase NO production are through diet and exercise. Let’s explore this in a little more detail.


Food Choices And Nitric Oxide

The body uses the amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline for NO production. It also uses nitrates found in certain foods as well. Your diet should contain foods that have all three of these ingredients for producing more NO for your lung health and overall health. Thankfully, there is no shortage of healthy options for getting these NO precursors into your body. Nitrates are the best choice for promoting NO production. You can find nitrates in many of the vegetables you eat. The best plant-based options are leafy greens and root plants such as beets.

Examples of foods containing high levels of nitrates are:


  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Celery
  • Bok Choy
  • Swiss Chard
  • Mustard Greens
  • Lettuce

Next up would be L-arginine. This amino acid is used to not only build proteins but also converts into NO. Some examples of food choices high in L-arginine are:


  • Beef
  • Salmon
  • Almonds
  • Chickpeas
  • Oats
  • Milk
  • Cheese

Last up is L-citrulline. The body converts this amino acid into arginine, which is then converted into nitric oxide. So it doesn’t hurt to add some foods high in citrulline to your diet as well. These include:


  • Watermelon
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Pumpkin
  • Cantaloupe

If you have some of these foods in your diet, you are off to a great start for promoting lung health and overall health!


Exercise And Nitric Oxide

Exercise is important because it leads to more NO production as a by-product. Exercising promotes better overall blood vessel function. The linings of these blood vessels are where NO production occurs. Exercise improves their flexibility and function. When you exercise, your blood pumps faster, and the pressure on the vessels increases. As this pressure increases, nitric oxide production is triggered. When NO production is triggered, vasodilation occurs and the blood vessels expand, which allows for better blood circulation. So when exercise increases, NO production increases, which makes exercising easier so you can exercise more. This in turn allows more nitric oxide to be produced, and so on. Starting one will create a cycle of increased levels and the ability to exercise more.

The best results come from endurance-based training that works your cardiovascular system the most. So think about incorporating exercises such as jogging, swimming, or cycling. However, even as little as 15-20 minutes of brisk walking a day will help boost your NO levels.


Other Tips To Boost Nitric Oxide Levels

Diet and exercise are great places for most people to start to optimize their NO production naturally. However, if you have these up to snuff and still feel like you could be doing more, you are right. So with this in mind, here are a few other tips for boosting your nitric oxide levels if you have optimized your diet and exercise:


  • Increasing antioxidant intake. Antioxidants help stabilize nitric oxide and eliminate free radicals that create oxidative stress that inhibits NO’s bioavailability.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking not only shortens your life span but also inhibits NO production and ruins lung health.
  • Get quality sleep. NO helps the brain function through neuron signaling and improves memory. Getting adequate sleep allows the brain to stay healthy and NO to do its job in the brain optimally.
  • Breathe smarter. There is evidence showing that breathing through your nose and practicing deep breathing techniques can improve your NO production. HOW you breathe matters!
  • Find a high-quality nitric oxide supplement. Look for a good clinically tested and scientifically backed supplement with the right ingredients, the right quantities of those ingredients, and a lot of satisfied customers that swear by the product. 


The Bottom Line

Because nitric oxide plays such an important role in your lung health and overall health, it is essential you do all you can to keep the bioavailability of NO as high as you can. Focus on eating the right foods. Focus on moving your body around every day. Implement the other tips listed above. Do your research and find other ways to boost your NO levels. It is vital that you do what you can to keep your lung health in check, as well as your overall health in check.



6 drinks that boost nitric oxide levels

6 Drinks That Boost Nitric Oxide Levels

Let’s face it – we are all getting older. I mean this literally; we get older every day. As we age, our minds and bodies change. Don’t get me wrong, aging is a natural process, but it has its fair share of complications. Two of the best things you can do as you age are to remain active and make smart health choices. You want to stay energetic and be able to perform everyday motions well, but aging makes that more difficult. How do we combat energy loss and stay as healthy as possible? YOU CAN MAKE SURE YOU ARE GETTING ENOUGH NITRIC OXIDE IN YOUR DIET. One way we can do this is through our diet. We will look at what nitric oxide is and how certain drinks can boost your nitric oxide levels.


What Is Nitric Oxide?

Nitric oxide (NO) is a gas that is naturally produced in the body. We use NO as a vasodilator which expands blood vessels by relaxing the smooth muscles within vessel linings. Nitric oxide production is vital for many of the processes our body completes to stay healthy. Primarily, the vasodilation effect allows blood, oxygen, and nutrients to flow more efficiently throughout the body.


Why Is Boosting Nitric Oxide Levels Important?

The biggest reason NO is so important is because of how many processes NO is a part of. It acts as a signaling molecule for cells in the body, acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain, and lowers blood pressure. To really drive the point home, here are just SOME of the other benefits of nitric oxide:


  • promotes skin health
  • helps improve heart health
  • provides immune system support
  • improves cardiovascular system
  • reduces the risk of blood clots forming
  • reduces the risk of plaque buildup
  • supports brain health
  • can improve sexual health
  • increases exercise performance

As I said, these are just some of the benefits nitric oxide provides. If you do not understand how important NO is for your health, you haven’t been paying attention.


How Do We Boost Our Nitric Oxide Levels?

Now that you know the importance of NO, it’s time to look at how you can boost your nitric oxide levels so they stay high as you age. If you want to promote high levels of NO, you want to focus on exercise and diet first and foremost. Getting adequate exercise and eating the right foods are a great start for boosting nitric oxide levels. However, the things you drink can also boost or bust your nitric oxide levels. Most people don’t take the time to consider the liquids they drink, but the liquids in your diet matter too. So now, let’s look at six different drinks that can boost your nitric oxide levels.


1. Beetroot Juice

This one is probably the one most nitric oxide people know about. This drink is widely popular in fitness and health circles as a pre-workout drink as well as a daily health drink for boosting nitric oxide levels. Beetroot is one of the best sources of dietary nitrates you can find in food. Nitrates are converted into nitric oxide in the body, so getting plenty of them via vegetables is highly recommended.

However, if you are not a fan of the beet itself, you can opt for a good beetroot juice to get those nitrates. You can make your own beetroot juice at home, buy some juice in certain stores, or find a beetroot powder. 


2. Red Wine

This drink is a little bit controversial given the mixed research on the health benefits of red wine. However, when it comes to boosting nitric oxide levels, red wine is a good choice under specific circumstances. Firstly, you need to be 21 or older before considering drinking red wine for any reason. Secondly, there are plenty of other choices coming up, so no need to limit yourself to red wine if that’s not your thing. Lastly, red wine is alcohol, which would normally work against the production of NO. However, what makes red wine different from other alcohols is its antioxidant component.

Red wine can do two things: provide antioxidants that destroy free radicals that create oxidative stress within the body and promote a strong vascular system by enhancing nitric oxide synthase in the endothelium of our blood vessels. Red wine not only helps our body produce more NO but also provides antioxidants that allow for more nitric oxide to stay in our body longer by eliminating free radicals. Make no mistake, red wine should still be consumed in moderation (1 drink per day max) because it is alcohol. Too much red wine will actually be detrimental to nitric oxide levels.


3. Arugula-Dominant Greens Juice

This one is right up there with beetroot juice as far as popularity, maybe even more so. Greens juices have been pushed on us for years as a healthy drink. There is some truth to the hype: the vegetable extracts within these green juices such as spinach and kale have high concentrations of nitrates in them. However, what you want to look for is a greens juice containing arugula would be best. Arugula has one of the highest concentrations of nitrates compared to other leafy green vegetables. You can make this at home with some arugula, spinach, kale, and lemon juice. 


4. Celery Juice

Celery, just like many green vegetables, is a nitric oxnide-boosting food. So celery juice works just as well. Celery juice goes great with some lemon to make a tasty drink that will not only boost your nitric oxide levels but will also help you lose weight. It contains plenty of nitrates and other nutrients needed for a healthy body.


5. Red Spinach Juice

This one is lesser known compared to other juices but packs a healthy punch. Red spinach has a high concentration of nitrates, making it a good choice for boosting nitric oxide levels. You can combine this with other high nitrate vegetables to make a juice at home if you’d like. Red spinach juice itself is not easy to find, so making it at home or finding a powder would be the best bet here.


6. Watermelon Juice

You didn’t think vegetables were the only way to boost your nitric oxide levels, did you? Not a fan of vegetables? Well, you’re in luck. Many fruits can also boost your nitric oxide levels. This is because many fruits contain precursors that the body uses to produce NO. Two of these precursors you will find in fruits are the amino acids L-citrulline and L-Arginine. The amino acid we are looking at right now is L-citrulline. Citrulline promotes nitric oxide production by being converted into Arginine, which is then converted into NO.

One of the best sources of L-citrulline is watermelon juice. One of the best things about watermelon juice is its versatility. You can drink it by itself or add it to your vegetable juices as a natural sweetener. It is also great at hydrating you since it is mostly water. Watermelon juice is a great choice for boosting nitric oxide levels if you want a sweet and hydrating option that is as effective as the vegetable options.


Other Ways To Boost Nitric Oxide Levels

Obviously, all of the vegetable juices come from a vegetable, so eating those vegetables will serve the same purpose. While juicing is an easy way to add more NO to your diet, there are still plenty of tasty choices for foods that will boost your nitric oxide levels. Some other choices that are easy to incorporate into your diet are:


  • Garlic
  • Lettuce
  • Pomegranate
  • Cucumber

Your diet is the best way to boost your nitric oxide levels, but there are other nutrients you can get from food and supplements that will help your body utilize nitric oxide more efficiently. They may not contain nitrates or amino acid precursors of No, but they will help the body produce NO and slow down the rate of depletion of NO. Because of this, they are also considered NO boosters. These include:


  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Glutathione
  • Other antioxidants


Exercise To Boost Nitric Oxide Levels

While diet should be the primary way you boost your nitric oxide levels, exercise accomplishes this as well. When we exercise, we promote the health of our endothelium. This is where NO is produced in the body, so exercise promotes these endothelia to produce NO. NO production gives us more energy and improves exercise performance, which makes it easier to work longer and harder. A cycle is created where doing one improves the other. To reap the nitric oxide boosting benefits of exercise, aim for no less than 15-20 minutes a day or up to 30-45 minutes 3-4 times a week of moderate-intensity exercise. Great examples include brisk walking, swimming, cycling, and strength training.


Final Thoughts

Aging is natural but can become scary and hindering if the right precautions are not taken. These six drinks are a great way to ensure you are taking the steps needed to stay healthy and age with grace. Keeping your NO levels high will help you maintain a high level of activity and energy as you age. Make sure you share these drinks with your friends. For more health tips and education on nitric oxide, check out the rest of our blog.



cardiometabolic health

5 Ways To Improve Cardiometabolic Health

First things first, what is cardiometabolic health? Cardiometabolic health is just a fancy way of saying overall heart health. To be more direct, it is the combination of heart and metabolic health. Examples of cardiometabolic diseases would be heart disease, diabetes, and renal failure. Now that we know what cardiometabolic health is, how do we improve and optimize cardiometabolic health? Let’s take a look at some stats on the subject and go from there.

According to recent research, as few as 7% of Americans are considered to be in optimal cardiometabolic health. In this research, the Americans sampled were evaluated with five criteria for optimal health. These criteria included:


  • blood pressure
  • blood sugar
  • fat percentage and weight
  • blood cholesterol
  • whether they had any heart-related disease

Out of the 55,000 people studied, only 6.8% were optimal across the criteria researched. This means only 1 in 15 adults has optimal cardiometabolic health. Since the U.S. is a wealthy first-world country, these numbers are not great. The research highlights a growing problem in the U.S., a health crisis.


Is there really a cardiometabolic health crisis?

If you have ever gone on a Netflix binge, you’ll notice there are plenty of fringe documentaries on food and health issues. There is a reason there are so many of them; there is a growing health crisis in the U.S. These health issues will vary in severity depending on age, socioeconomic status, and race/ethnicity. Minorities such as Hispanics and African-Americans experience declining health compared to White Americans. This is potentially due to differences in access to healthcare, healthier food options, economic standing, education level, and other larger societal contexts.

However, the purpose of this article is not to dissect the political and societal pot-holes that exacerbate the health crisis, but rather to highlight the importance of taking preventative measures to avoid becoming a statistic. With that being said, what can we do as individuals to give ourselves the best chance to optimize our cardiometabolic health? What do we need to do to lower our risk of developing diseases such as heart disease and diabetes?


Let’s talk prevention of cardiometabolic health issues.

For those reading this without any medical background, there are three types of prevention: secondary, primary, and primordial. Each of these has a place in optimizing cardiometabolic health. What makes each one distinct from the other is the timetable and the effects of implementing each one when you do.


Secondary prevention

This is enacted after a health issue has already occurred. Let’s say you had a stroke. Your doctor prescribes you medication and gives you a list of lifestyle changes you need to make to reduce the risk of a stroke occurring again. This is secondary prevention. The goal is to prevent the stroke from happening again by making changes.


Primary prevention

This is enacted before the first stroke. The goal here is to prevent an at-risk individual from having the first occurrence. So let’s say you go see your doctor for a check-up and he/she determines you are at risk for stroke. To prevent that first stroke, they look into setting you up with a medication to mitigate risk and give you a list of lifestyle changes you need to make to further reduce the risk of a first stroke. That is primary prevention. You are getting the same treatment as secondary, but the aim is to prevent the first stroke from occurring rather than prevent the next stroke from occurring.


Primordial prevention

This is enacted before the risk factors are determined to exist. Let’s look at the stroke example again. Primordial prevention involves working to prevent the symptoms that give rise to risk factors from developing, to begin with. For example, a few risk factors associated with stroke are high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and high lipids. Primordial prevention would be implementing lifestyle changes to prevent the development of these risk factors. So if you are healthy right now but your lifestyle could lead to the development of risk factors, you would make changes now to stay healthy and further reduce the chance risk factors such as high blood pressure could occur. The goal here is to enact changes and healthy choices as soon as possible-ideally in childhood.


Which prevention is best for cardiometabolic health?

When it comes to cardiometabolic health and health in general, the sooner you make the changes needed to stay healthy the better. Ideally, we all implemented primordial prevention as children and are all in optimal health. However, the research we discussed at the beginning of the article tells us this is not the case for the majority of Americans. For most of us, we are left with primary or secondary prevention. Hopefully, none of you have suffered a heart attack or stroke just yet. Regardless, we can all implement the same lifestyle changes necessary to either prevent the first health concern from appearing or at least greatly reduce the risk of another cardiometabolic health issue from arising.

So how do we do it? What are the steps to take to improve your cardiometabolic health? The list below will not be all-inclusive, but it will contain the biggest changes you can make today to improve your cardiometabolic health and reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, renal failure, and other associated diseases.


The 5 ways to improve cardiometabolic health

Like I said already, this list is far from exhaustive, but it is a good starting place for most to make changes today. With that being said, here are five things you can start doing immediately that will improve your cardiometabolic health.


1. Choosing a healthier diet.

There is no shortage of research finding links between food and disease. Certain nutrients are linked to the development or prevention of diseases. However, for the purpose of this article, not all of this is important for you. What you need to take away is the best diet for preventing cardiometabolic health problems is a diet full of fruits and veggies. Furthermore, your diet should contain whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, and poultry. You want to avoid excessive amounts of alcohol, red meat, processed meats, refined carbohydrates, added sugars, sodium, and trans fats. Pay attention to the label on the foods you buy. A good rule of thumb would be if you can hunt it or gather it in the wild, it is likely a good food choice.

As a last note on food, remember to take into consideration food allergies, dietary preferences, and individual tastes. There are plenty of options that fit these basic parameters while still adhering to your preferences. Do your homework and find food choices that fit your individual tastes while still being good for you.


2. Exercise.

As most of you probably know, exercise is a great way to prevent cardiometabolic health problems such as heart disease. Unfortunately, many of us exercise less as we get older. With this drop in activity level, we see a rise in risk factors such as high blood pressure. Exercise not only lowers the risk of cardiometabolic health problems but also does things like: improve sleep, lower blood pressure, boost mood, and keep weight in check.

The best part of exercise is that you do not have to kill yourself in the gym for hours on end to see the health benefits. As little as 20 minutes of brisk walking a day or 30 minutes for five days a week can improve your overall health. You can obviously do more, but the point here is that movement is medicine. Some activity is better than none, so set aside a few minutes each day and start moving more.


3. Drop your bad habits.

I’m lumping smoking and drinking here, but the focus is smoking. Drinking alcohol is definitely not a habit you want to be doing excessively, but in moderation, some alcohol such as red wine can have health benefits. On the other hand, smoking has no benefit to your health. Smoking tobacco is incredibly addictive and can not only increase your risk of developing cardiometabolic health problems but is also a financial pain costing on average around $2,300/year per person smoking one pack a day. Studies show that smoking contributed to approximately 64% of deaths of current smokers and up to 28% of deaths of former smokers. Smoking is also a well-documented contributor to heart disease, so it is in your best interest to stop smoking as soon as possible if you are a smoker. Some helpful tips for kicking the habit include:


  • nicotine replacement therapy (nasal spray or nicotine patches)
  • avoid triggers you associate with smoking
  • chew gum or do something with your mouth to avoid smoking
  • exercise
  • find a support group

Find ways to stop smoking if the habit is hard to kick. Your health will thank you.


4. Get better sleep.

Sleep is an underrated and essential component of your overall health. Sleep has been shown to be a vital piece of your cardiometabolic health. Getting sleep is a lot like the goldilocks and the three bears story-too much sleep is bad and too little sleep is bad, so we must find the duration that is just right. Unfortunately, everyone is different and had different physiological needs. However, a good rule of thumb to start with is 7-8 hours of sleep. Some people will need less and others will need more, but this is a good duration to work with.

Sleeping habits that make or break a good night’s rest include:


  • setting a sleep schedule
  • a bedtime routine such as yoga or meditation to relax before bed
  • limiting screen time before bed
  • avoiding caffeine
  • avoiding alcohol

Getting a good night’s rest can make or break your cardiometabolic health in the long run, so if you are experiencing restlessness or sleep issues, implement these tips above. Go talk to your doctor if sleep issues continue to endure or get worse.


5. Get your nitric oxide levels up.

Of course, we had to bring up nitric oxide (NO). Nitric oxide is the vasodilator that lowers blood pressure, prevents plaque buildup, prevents blot clots from occurring, and improves blood circulation throughout the body. Because of these benefits, NO is vital to optimizing cardiometabolic health. If you want to make sure you stay as healthy as you can, make sure your NO levels are optimized. Some things you can do to boost your nitric oxide levels include:


  • nasal breathing
  • eating lots of leafy greens
  • getting sunlight exposure
  • exercise
  • finding a high-quality NO supplement


The bottom line on cardiometabolic health

There is plenty more you can do to improve your cardiometabolic health. The steps listed above are great for getting started. Make sure you consult with your doctor if you are at risk or believe you might be at risk for problems such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other health concerns. Do the things in this article and avoid becoming another statistic.