As a student of health promotion, I know there are redundant systems in our bodies that promote artery function (think optimal heart, brain, and sexual performance) which make me just shake my head in appreciation and wonder. One of my favorite examples of this phenomenon is the generation of nitric oxide (NO), a small gas molecule whose discovery led to the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1989.
When manufactured in adequate amounts, NO causes arteries to enjoy increased blood flow, less clotting (i.e. fewer heart attacks and strokes), and less atherosclerosis. These three results are ones you surely want to maximize in your search for wellness and vitality.
The main source of NO is in the lining of arteries, called the endothelium. NO can act right at the battlefront, where blood cells, fats, toxins and arteries interact every second of every day. There are ways to enhance NO production by eating certain foods that lead to the generation of NO.
A recently discovered miracle is that the body has two backup systems for NO production, reminiscent of an airplane with multiple safety modes. One system for NO production exists in our skin and explains why enjoying safe amounts of sunshine may lower blood pressure and enhance health.
The other system is in our mouths and is worthy of words of praise. In a nutshell — and nuts can be a good way to boost NO production — our mouths have the following system: