This week I received an email from a lovely lady called Sarah asking "isn't nitrous oxide good for our arteries?". The question came after last week's blog as I talked about the effect food has on the planet and whether eating a vegetarian diet was better for the planet or not (and if you missed it, the answer might surprise you – so do take a look here).
In the article I talked about the devastating effect fertilisers have on global warming, as they eventually turn into nitrous oxide which has a heat retaining capacity of roughly 200x greater than carbon dioxide. So to answer Sarah's question, we firstly need to differentiate between nitric oxide and nitrous oxide...
Nitric Oxide & Nitrous Oxide
Scientifically, the difference between the two is that Nitric Oxide (NO) is one nitrogen and one oxygen molecule bonded together and Nitrous Oxide (N2O) has two molecules of nitrogen bonded to one oxygen molecule. That doubling up of the nitrogen completely alters the gas.
Nitrous Oxide is found in aerosol cans and your dentists laughing gas, but by far the biggest contributor is fertilisers used to grow crops. And it is a real problem for our planet, as we don’t yet appear to have any way to sequest (absorb) it. So in the main, we view nitrous oxide as bad for the health of our the planet.
Nitric oxide however, is a completely different story and is often confused for nitrous oxide. It is one of the most important compounds when it comes to our vascular health. It is produced by nearly every type of cell in your body and plays a pivotal role in the health of your blood vessels. It helps to relaxe the inner muscles of our blood vessels, allowing them to widen. In other words, nitric oxide plays an important role in lowering blood pressure.
Say no to heart disease
The book 'No more heart disease' written by the 1998 Nobel prize winner in Medicine, Dr Louis J. Ignarro, brilliantly illustrates the importance of Nitric Oxide.
The bullet points below are clearly stated by Dr Louis J. Ignarro and help explain nitric oxide better...
- NO is one of the most significant molecules in the body
- NO influencing is the functioning of virtually every human organ from the heart to the lungs and stomach
- NO issues by the immune system to stave off infections
- NO is also crucial for memory functions because the brain use it to store and retrieve long-term memories as well as transmit information
- NO is also an anti-inflammatory
- NO Relaxes blood vessels reducing blood pressure and lowering the risk of heart attacks and strokes
- NO may also play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s arthritis infections and ulcers
He writes, “simply by incorporating nitric oxide friendly foods into your daily diet, taking specifically targeted supplements, and maintaining a moderate, non-taxing fitness program tailored to your specific health and wellness needs”.
I will talk about Dr Ignarro more in a moment. But let me quickly tell you a story about Mr Alfred Nobel, the chap who created the Nobel Peace Prize. He was a Swedish inventor and scientist who held 355 patents, one for dynamite, a powdery explosive based on Nitro-glycerine. He had many workers making his dynamite, but he noticed something quite peculiar. He noticed how any that suffered angina (chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart muscles) their pains disappeared while at work but reappeared when they spent periods away from work. What he had discovered, was the effect Nitric Oxide has on our blood vessel. It is quite ironic that almost 100 years later, Dr Louis J. Ignarro was awarded the Nobel prize, for discovering the “how” and “why” it works.
You can hear the full story about Alfred Nobel’s discovery in a podcast I did with the brilliant Heart Specialist, Dr Malcolm Kendrick. The below video also explains more about how our arteries work in detail...
Part of the reason Dr Louis J. Ignarro was awarded his Noble prize was that he discovered that it is L-arginine (an amino acid) which is converted by the human body into Nitric Oxide. But if you read the book, you will discover that it is not just L-arginine that we need. He goes on to say, “any supplement program that does not contain L-citrulline and antioxidants to augment the L-arginine of which most on the market do not, is missing out on a major piece of the puzzle”.
4 ways to get more nitric oxide
So how do you help your body create more nitric oxide? Here are my 4 top tips:
- Eat foods that are rich in nitrates which convert into nitric oxide, these include beetroot, spinach, meat and dark chocolate.
- Get out in the sun
- Supplement with L-citrulline and L-arginine
So now that we've cleared up the difference between nitric oxide and why it's incredibly important for the health of our heart, here are a few facts about one of the most important organs in the body...
7 facts about the heart
- Arteries carry oxygen rich blood away from the heart to a network of blood vessels including veins and capillaries, then other veins carry oxygen depleted blood back to the heart for refuelling. All in all, your complex blood carrying network is approximately 100,000 miles long. It beats approximately 100,000 times a day, pumping around 2,000 gallons!
- If all cardiovascular disease was eradicated, on average we would live 7 years longer!
- The best defence is good offence!
- When you get a blood pressure reading you get 2 different numbers. Systolic – is the pressure on the artery walls as your heart beats and contracts to pump out the blood and Diastolic is the pressure on the artery walls as it relaxes between beats and fills with blood.
- When we are young, the arteries around the heart are flexible and about 3mm wide. As we age the walls thicken and loose some of their elasticity. At the same time plaque can build up on the inside of these wall in the endothelium (a thin membrane that lines the inside of our arteries). This process is called atherosclerosis. Think of the difference between Teflon and Velcro! If it’s more Velcro like, plaques can stick, grow become brittle and eventually become dislodged and then blockages occur. This can prevent blood from flowing and depending on which artery it occurs in can cause either a heart attacks or a stroke. When a blood clot happens in the arteries it can partially or completely deprive the heart of oxygen cutting off nourishment to the heart cells and cause a heart attack. Sometimes this is described as myocardial infarction - myocardial = heart muscle and infarction = tissue death from deprivation of oxygen.
- Damage to the endothelium is a double-edged sord, not only can it cause blockages but it also reduces the production of nitric oxide.
- We must do everything we can to help the body boost its production of nitic oxide.
A true viagra story
Well, apparently it is true. Many years ago a pharmaceutical company was testing a drug to help prevent heart disease, but at the end of the clinical trial, none of the men taking part returned any surplus. This was highly unusual.
When the company investigated, they found that the drugs were in fact helping men that were suffering from erectile dysfunction. It turns out that not only does L-citrulline help relax arteries, it increases the production of nitric oxide which in turn, helps erectile dysfunction. And this is how viagra came to market. Interestingly, it also helps arteries around the lungs to relax and now many mountaineers take it to reduce altitude sickness!
What made me happiest this week
Reconnecting with nature. Taking my little ones camping in the Cotswolds and chasing my young son around a field.
What upset me most this week
Barclays Bank. But it’s a personal thing and I don’t want to expand too much. Other than to say I was loyal to them with my businesses for over 30 years and this week I switched to a different bank. For me loyalty must be repaid with loyalty.
Favourite customer comment this week
Anne has been doing the Primal Health Reset course...
"My dieting has been a once in 10 year effort, so I wouldn’t say I’m a yo-yo dieter. Along the way I’ve been misled by the low fat lie, but I had also already rejected it and long believed that sugar was the enemy. One diet established my regular ‘healthy’ oat based home made breakfast, because ‘you shouldn’t skip breakfast’. I had stabilised my weight, but at an unhealthily high level. Health Reset is sorting the wheat from the chaff for me and giving me the tools to defend my choices with my friends and family. I look forward to my success! So Thank You😄."
Favourite recipe this week
As beetroot is the king when it comes to nitric oxide production, I thought I would share this recipe with you. Ok, this one is not 100% primal, as it includes Quinoa, but I would suggest you swap it out for cauliflower rice or just drop it completely. That said however, my family just love this salad.
Buy 2 fresh beetroot (not from a jar), boil it for about 20 minutes, then drain the water and let it cool.
Salad is rocket, some fresh herbs, I use coriander and basil, shallots, pomegranate seeds (I soak them in a teaspoon of vanilla – tastes wild) and feta cheese.
Buy some fresh Tuna (not supermarket steaks as they are too thin) and cut it into chunks of about 2.5 to 3cm. Any smaller and it cooks all the way through. Roll them in a mix of chia and sesame seeds, add a little salt and a lot of black pepper. Heat up your frying pan with oil, I use extra virgin olive oil and once it’s hot, flash fry the tuna for about 40 seconds and then turn over. The aim is to cook it quickly, so that its still pink in the middle.
I make a sauce from red wine vinegar, olive oil (about 50/50) and then squeeze in the juice from 2 oranges and then I add half a teaspoon of stevia.
To serve, I add some almonds flakes to further give the food dynamic contrast. This dish blows apart the taste buds and oozes Oreosensory.
A healthier Britain
In everything we do, in everything we create, our purpose is to prevent and reverse health problems by helping people understand the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of their health and put them in charge of reaching or even exceeding their health potential.
Be sure to update your Primal Living App this week, we added a lot of recipes this week.
Primal Living latest performance
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P.S If you want to read more about nitric oxide and it’s importance for heart health, then do get the book I mentioned above, or for more science, take a look at the articles below...
Finally, I don’t want you to feel in anyway my blogs are about selling product, they really aren’t. But here at Primal Living we've worked with Dr Malcolm Kenrick to develop a brilliant supplement to support heart health. So just in case you were looking to supplement, please do take a look below.