A few years back, my sons introduced me to a movie franchise called “The Fast and the Furious.”
It’s all about souped-up cars and the underground world of illegal street racing. It’s not really my type of movie, but my boys seemed to like it.
But there was one feature of the movie that I did find fascinating…
In the film, the street racers push a button in their car that releases nitrous oxide (NO) for a quick boost of speed.
It made me think of my clinic. For years, I’ve been recommending that my patients supplement with a nitric oxide booster to increase blood flow to all parts of the body.
Obviously, the NO used in cars is not the same as we put in our bodies, but the concept is the same.
Nitric oxide is a colorless compound made by cells in your body. I call NO nature’s “hydraulic pump” because it gets everything going. You release NO from the inner layer of the cells lining your blood vessels.
This gas relaxes and widens the lining of your blood vessels and allows blood to flow freely.1
Some of the benefits of NO include:
- Lower blood pressure
- Less arterial plaque and reduced risk of heart disease
- More muscle mass and increased strength
- Reduced risk of blood clots
- Stronger libido
But exciting new research shows that NO can prevent — and even reverse — the effects of Alzheimer’s disease.
Healthy blood flow wards off the plaques and tangles that are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s. Researchers found that when blood flow to the brain gets to a critically low level it starts a cascade that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.2
You see, nerve cells in your brain produce long strands of a protein called APP (amyloid precursor protein).
In Alzheimer’s patients, APP production speeds up. It breaks down into smaller toxic proteins called amyloid beta peptides (ABP). These clump together around nerve cells and choke the cells to death.
Scientists at the Clinic now confirm that APP increases when NO in the blood vessels drops. At the same time, plaque levels in the brain rise and Alzheimer’s rates go up.
But when NO levels were increased, the plaques decreased and big memory followed. The - researchers even said keeping NO levels up may be a good strategy for preventing Alzheimer’s.
Unfortunately, as you get older your body has a harder time making nitric oxide. By the time you’re 50, you produce only about half as much as when you were in your 20s.
And while there aren’t any nitric oxide pills you can take — or button you can push — there are nutrients that can convert to NO in your body.
Here are three easy ways I recommend to help my patients boost their nitric oxide levels to keep their brain sharp and healthy.
- L-Arginine. This amino acid causes a biochemical reaction that creates nitric oxide and dilates blood vessels. Some of best arginine-rich foods include lobster, crab, spinach, spirulina, turkey, game meat, chicken and goat.
- You can also supplement. But make sure you buy either arginine or L-arginine. You can find it in capsules or powders. But avoid synthetic L-arginine.
- There’s another amino acid you should take along with your L-arginine. After you’ve been using it for a while, an enzyme starts blocking the NO conversion. That’s why you need citrulline. It blocks the enzyme so L-arginine continues to make NO.
- Take L-arginine and citrulline in a 5-to-1 ratio. I recommend daily doses 6,000 mg of L-arginine and 1,000 mg of citrulline.
- Pomegranate. This fruit increases nitric oxide in all of your blood vessels. In one study, mice fed pomegranate juice formed about 50% less brain plaques than a control group.5
- Look for cold-pressed, organic pomegranate juice with no syrups or sweeteners. I recommend drinking two ounces of the juice a day. And eat the seeds, either fresh or dried. Throw a handful on top of salads or in your yogurt or smoothie.
- You can also find pomegranate extract in supplement form. Take 500 to 1,000 mg per day.
- Beetroot. When you eat beetroot, it mixes with your saliva and bacteria on your tongue. This combo turns into nitric oxide. You can get the most out of beetroots by either chewing them raw or throwing them in your juicer.
Here’s an easy fresh juice recipe you can try:
- 1 organic beetroot
- 2 raw organic carrots
- ½ organic cucumber
- 3 stalks of organic celery
- 1 fresh lemon
- Wash and dry your ingredients. Peel and cut the beetroot into small pieces.
- There’s no need to peel the rest of your ingredients. Chop into small pieces and place in a blender.
- Add one cup water. Squeeze the juice of the lemon over the vegetables.
- Blend until smooth and enjoy.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS
1. David Hirst and Tracy Robson, “Targeting nitric oxide for cancer therapy.” JPP 2007, 59: 3–13.
2. de la Torre JC, Stefano GB. “Evidence that Alzheimer’s disease is a microvascular disorder: the role of constitutive nitric oxide.” Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2000 Dec.
3. Austin SA., et al. “Endothelial nitric oxide deficiency promotes Alzheimer’s disease pathology.” J. Neurochem. 2013 Dec.
4. Austin SA., et al. “Endothelial nitric oxide modulates expression and processing of amyloid precursor protein.” Circ Res. 2010 Dec.
5. Hartman RE., et al. “Pomegranate juice decreases amyloid load and improves behavior in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.” Neurobiol Dis. 2006 Dec.