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Nitric Oxide, Part 1 – InViteⓇ Health Podcast, Episode 549
Hosted Amanda Williams, MD, MPH.
InViteⓇ Health Podcast Intro: Welcome to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast, where our degreed healthcare professionals are excited to offer you the most important health and wellness information you need to make informed choices about your health. You can learn more about the products discussed in each of these episodes and all that InViteⓇ Health has to offer at www.invitehealth.com/podcast. First time customers can use promo code PODCAST at checkout for an additional 15% off your first purchase. Let’s get started! †
Amanda Williams, MD, MPH: [00:00:40] When it comes to the human party, we certainly understand that there is a lot of complex information going on every single day. And that’s why we can call it information because it’s different pathways, different signaling molecules, and there’s one molecule in particular that is so incredibly important, but yet so under talked about and it just doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. But when we look at the state of health, not only in this country but throughout the world, this is a primary driver for all things bad. So if you have a deficiency in this, this can really be a big problem. So I want to talk about this. I want to talk about the science of nitric oxide today and why nitric oxide is so incredibly important and essential for our actual existence. And it goes far beyond what they initially had looked at with nitric oxide. When the Nobel Prize in Physiology was awarded to three different researchers back in 1998, looking at nitric oxide as being this key signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system. Now we recognize, wait a minute, nitric oxide is actually used in all cell functions throughout the body. So the science has really grown in the past two decades, in particular when it comes to looking at all different types of chronic conditions, whether we’re looking at neurological disorders, sexual dysfunction, mood disorders, you name it, nitric oxide is involved in some way, shape or form. And if you don’t have adequate nitric oxide, this can certainly lead to significant problems for you down the road. And not just looking at the main things such as, you know, a major cardiovascular event. There’s a lot of different ways to which nitric oxide deficiency can present itself, and I think that we need to be cognizant of that. † [00:02:39]
[00:02:40] So I’m Amanda Williams, MD, MPH, Scientific Director here at InViteⓇ Health. In this topic is so incredibly important that I actually feel like it warrants having two separate podcasts on this. So I’m going to break this down into two parts. The first part, I’m going to talk about really what nitric oxide is and how it’s utilized in the body. And then in part two, I’m going to talk about what you can be doing to try to yield higher amounts of nitric oxide when it comes to your foods, when it comes to exercise, when it comes to supplementation, we know there’s a lot of different ways that we can try to increase our nitric oxide production. And of course, there’s many things that hinder our nitric oxide production. One is age, so chronological aging, which we can’t stop, but that’s just one little component to it. We know there are things that people are doing every single day that is just doing an awful lot of harm when it comes to not allowing your body to create nitric oxide.† [00:03:48]
[00:03:49] So let’s get right to it. Let’s talk about what nitric oxide actually is. And this is not to be confused with nitrous oxide. So nitrous oxide that is laughing gas, that is what many people associate going to the dentist and being given that gas that they place over your nose to start to make you calm before they start doing all of that dental work. Now that’s much different than nitric oxide. We want to zero in on nitric oxide. This is what the Nobel Prize was given for. There is a reason why there was a Nobel Prize given for this absolutely fantastic find, because we now recognize this molecule is so incredibly important and it is probably one of the most important molecules produced in the human body. We understand now that it controls oxygen and nutrient delivery to every single cell in the body. So it’s regulating cellular communication. It has so many different properties to it that help to protect our bodies from even from pathogens. So this is when they first came across nitric oxide. They were thinking cardiovascular. But now we see it’s doing so many other things.† [00:05:09]
[00:05:10] Now when we get older and we have this loss of nitric oxide production in the body, now we start to see the major problems. So when you have that dysfunction that’s occurring and low levels of nitric oxide in the body, we start to see that even in the setting of high blood pressure because we’re having endothelial dysfunction that occurs. So a narrowing within the vascular lining. When that happens, we are now going to have to force all of that blood through a much more narrow vessel, which in turn drives up your blood pressure, which is why we’re always looking at nitric oxide as a vasodilator. There are two different pathways to which nitric oxide is actually made in the human body, and this gets very complex. So I don’t want to get too much into the weeds when it comes to the production pathways, but I do want to just kind of briefly mention them because we oftentimes when we’re talking about different supplements, for example, and you’ll hear a term such as nitric oxide synthase or the conversion via bacteria into nitric oxide, it’s important to understand that it’s occurring through these two different pathways. So at the end of the day, what we recognize is there are many things that start to impact or influence the amount of nitric oxide. So one of the pathways is through the oxidation of the amino acid L-arginine through that nitric oxide synthase, and then you have nitrates which then communicate with your microbes in your mouth and with the nitrites. And then this formulates nitric oxide. So this is more through that bacterial process. Now each one of these pathways is yielding roughly about 50% of the body’s total nitric oxide production. So, we know, we have to have adequate exposure to arginine. We know that we have to have the appropriate nitrates coming in from the foods and having the right microbes.† [00:07:26]
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[00:07:27] Why do I mention this? Because there are a lot of things that can mess these two pathways up. Our diet being the first having a standard American diet is one of the biggest problems when it comes to nitric oxide production. We know that foods that are high in nitrate are foods that tend to be healthier. So green leafy vegetables, beets, for example, different seeds and nuts can yield you some. The average American is not consuming those on a regular basis. We also have to recognize that when it comes down to things that we’re doing every single day outside of the diet, things like mouthwash and the chlorhexidine that oftentimes is in a mouthwash, we know that these different things in the alcohols say you’re using just a standard mouthwash, that alcohol can strip away those good, healthy microbes that you need to convert that nitrate with that nitrite to make nitric oxide.† [00:08:27]
[00:08:28] There are other things that we know certainly hamper our proper nitric oxide production in the body the use of antacids, the use of antibiotics, the use of cholesterol lowering medications such as statin drugs. We know all of these things can start to create a problem. So now you look at the American population as a whole and you say, okay, average American not eating the right foods. So there’s one area that we’re not getting adequate nitric oxide production. Most people get up in the morning, they brush their teeth, they’re using maybe a mouthwash. So now we’re wiping out that area for nitric oxide production. Then people will go and they eat their bad food, maybe at lunch. Then they have heartburn. So they go and they take Tums or some type of antacid. Another area where we’re hindering our body’s ability to make nitric oxide. Then you go to your doctor. Your doctor says, Oh gosh, your diet’s not that great. So now you have to be on a cholesterol lowering medication. There’s another area. Then you say, You know what, my knee hurts. I’m going to take an ibuprofen. Well, we know that NSAIDs the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs also hinder your body’s ability to make nitric oxide.† [00:09:50]
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[00:09:51] So if we are screwing this up from the minute that we wake up in the morning to the minute we go to bed at night, it’s no wonder why we can start to look and say. Yeah. Nitric oxide deficiency, probably a lot more common than we actually realize. And this is very important to, to understand this because with the use of prescription drugs and over-the-counter NSAIDs and proton pump inhibitors, all the things for acid reflux, we can see how we are setting ourselves up to really create a not only a vascular nightmare, but an overall cellular nightmare in the body. Because once you lose that ability to convert the amino acid arginine into nitric oxide, we start to see that that 50% of that nitric oxide is now lost. And then we add in that other pathway, that microbial component to it, we lose that. You can start to see how diminished, and then we can add in what we already know which is age, age related loss of nitric oxide production. † [00:11:03]
[00:11:04] So if we are looking at this in the big scheme of things, we can start to recognize that. Hmm, yeah. Nitric oxide pretty darn important because it allows our arteries vessels to relax and to expand so we get good blood flow. And it’s not only about that blood flow, we have to make sure that we’re getting the proper oxygenation and the blood flow to the tissues. We know that nitric oxide is helping the brain cells with communication. We also recognize through that microbial involvement with the nitrate, nitrite and nitric oxide, we have this really strong connection with our microbiome. So our immune cells which are regulated via our microbiome, this is all heavily reliant on nitric oxide. So this is why nitric oxide, we know, does more than just preventing high blood pressure from occurring because it’s helping to keep our arteries nice and flexible. It’s helping to keep cholesterol levels low. But we also now can see that it limits swelling and inflammation and pain that’s associated with things like arthritis. We can see how it’s impacting people who have blood sugar issues such as diabetes and the complications that are associated with that, such as kidney disease. And problems with vision loss because of glycation. † [00:12:39]
[00:12:40] So nitric oxide, it’s actually very much so involved as an anti glycation. We can see the important role that nitric oxide is actually playing when it comes to bone health and they’ve been able to show how it actually protects bones from rapid turnover leading to osteoporosis. We can see studies now where topical approach of or topical use of nitric oxide is really helpful when it comes to protecting the skin from anti-aging or sun damage. So there’s a lot of different ways in which nitric oxide is really kind of this number one molecule in the human body. And we are doing so many things wrong when it comes to trying to stabilize those levels. So we can’t change our chronological aging, but we can certainly make huge differences when it comes to diet, exercise, use of over the counter antacid, NSAIDs, you know, your cholesterol lowering medications, all of these things that we know are just putting a wallop on your nitric oxide. So we want to be able to boost our nitric oxide as we get older. This is very key. † [00:14:04]
[00:14:06] Looking at much of the science and research on nitric oxide, it’s really very impressive. There’s a researcher out in Texas who has been looking at this for over 20 years and he’s really quite fabulous. I’ve seen him at a couple of different conferences speaking on this topic. He’s kind of the renowned expert when it comes to nitric oxide and understanding how the cardioprotective actions of nitric oxide is one thing. But to now go well beyond that and see the cellular support throughout the entire system, how much of a difference this is actually making, I think is really quite important in understanding that metabolism and the mechanism of cellular protection that is brought on from nitric oxide is one of his, you know, kind of claims to fame when it comes to the scientific research that he has done. Interestingly enough, there was a study that was looking at nitric oxide. This was published in the Journal of Physiology Research. They were talking about how when someone has a nitric oxide deficiency in the body, how this was associated with higher levels of oxidative stress as well as endothelial dysfunction. But in this particular study, the way that they were looking at this was looking at it as being diet induced, saying your diet got you to this point of having nitric oxide deficiency. And I think for the average American, this is a very important study to really understand that when your diet is deficient in nitric oxide and then you have all of these other things that are kind of going haywire in the body, we have increase in inflammation, we have high levels of oxidative stress, glycation. You can see how all of these things continue to really hinder the ability of nitric oxide to do what it is supposed to do. And I think that for many folks, when they start to understand the way in which nitric oxide is working, they start to to say, you know what, maybe I should make a couple of those dietary modifications and maybe this is something that I should pay attention to. And unfortunately, most doctors still to this day don’t understand the real ramifications of having a nitric oxide deficiency and how many systems this is actually impacting. Seeing how nitric oxide is working within every single organ system, not just the heart, but looking at the liver, the lungs, our entire vascular system, the skeletal muscles, our smooth muscles so we can see how it is that a in balance of nitric oxide can certainly start to lead us down this path that we we should be avoiding at all costs. And at the end of the day, the more that we understand about what we can do, you know, the functional things that we can do each and every single day to try to create a balance once again and stop that steady decline of nitric oxide. The more we are supporting overall cellular health and this is very, very important because we want to be able to improve aging. And when people have more balance of nitric oxide in the body, they feel more youthful, they feel more energetic.† [00:17:57]
[00:17:58] And oftentimes people say, well, it’s because of the foods that I’m eating, know I eat really healthy foods and now I feel really good. Well, part of that reason is because of the nitric oxide that those foods are yielding, that interaction with those healthy bacteria within the mouth that allow for that proper conversion so that your cells can be fueled and energized. All of this is essential. So I just want to kind of give that basic overview of what nitric oxide is. And then in part two, I’m going to talk about what you can be doing moving forward when it comes to lifestyle modifications, dietary changes, what foods you should be incorporating in and what things you should be avoiding, as well what other supplements can be beneficial. Because there are many different supplements out there that can really help to enhance that nitric oxide synthesis in the body. So I will cover all of that in part two of nitric oxide.† [00:18:57]
[00:18:58] So I want to thank you so much for tuning in to the InViteⓇ Health Podcast. Remember, you can find all of our episodes for free wherever you listen to podcasts. Or by visiting invitehealth.com/Podcasts now do make sure that you subscribe and you leave us a review. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at InViteⓇ Health. And we will see you next time for another episode of the InviteⓇ Health Podcast. † [00:18:58]