It is estimated that more than 50 million adults in the US alone have hypertension, or high blood pressure(HBP). HBP can have a devastating effect on health. This “silent but deadly” disease is thought to contribute to over 700,000 deaths each year. High blood pressure can damage the endothelial cells which line the blood vessels. This, in turn, reduce the ability for the body to naturally produce nitric oxide (NO).
Nitric oxide is a critical molecule in the human body for signalling the smooth muscle surrounding the blood vessels to relax. As a vasodilator, nitric oxide helps increase blood and oxygen flow to the tissues and organs. Nitric oxide has been show to increase brain function, improve circulation, increase muscle and and endurance, and even improve sexual performance. It also helps control blood pressure.
UC Irvine study from 2001 showed that high blood pressure deactivates nitric oxide, starting a vicious cycle of increasing blood pressure and decreasing nitric oxide activity. So besides damaging the endothelial cells, HBP also reduces the utilization of the primary signaling molecule that reduces blood pressure. With a lack of NO, blood vessels constrict, increasing blood pressure and furthering the damage that HPB does.
What do you do?
First, if you suspect that you have high blood pressure, see your doctor. She may prescribe medications to help you control your blood pressure. Second, you may need to exercise and change your dietary habits. A healthy diet, interestingly enough, contains many foods that also provide nutrients which will boosts you body’s creation of nitric oxide.
The best advice, in my opinion, is to try not let yourself get caught up in the high blood pressure cycle. Exercise and eat right.
The older you get, the less nitric oxide your body will produce. In addition to foods on this list, consider supplementation with nitric oxide boosters from a reputable source like Bodybuilding.com, SupplementsToGo.com and Vitamin Shoppe.