By: Jo Willey
A natural gas called nitric oxide, which is released by the skin after exposure to sunlight, helps people to control their metabolism and slow weight gain.
Rubbing a cream containing nitric oxide on to the skin can have the same effect, experts have found.
The discovery couldlead to a treatment that halts the progress of Type 2 diabetes, which is fuelled by obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle and costs the NHS £9billion a year.
Scientists from Edinburgh and Southampton, led by colleagues at the Telethon Kids Institute in Perth, Western Australia, found applying nitric oxide to the skin of overfed mice had the same effect of curbing weight gain as exposing them to ultra-violet light.
The mice displayed fewer warning signs of diabetes, such as abnormal glucose levels and resistance to insulin.
The findings, published in the journal Diabetes, show the benefits of moderate exposure to the sun’s rays.
Our observations indicate that the amounts of nitric oxide released from the skin may have beneficial effects not only on heart and blood vessels but also on the way our body regulates metabolism
Dr Richard Weller, senior lecturer in dermatology at Edinburgh University, said: “We know sun-seekers live longer than those who spend their lives in the shade.
"Studies such as this are helping us to understand how the sun can be good for us.
We need to remember that skin cancer is not the only disease that can kill us and should perhaps balance our advice on sun exposure.”
Previous studies have shown that nitric oxide can lower blood pressure after exposure to ultra-violet lamps.
Dr Martin Feelisch, of Southampton University, said: “Our observations indicate that the amounts of nitric oxide released from the skin may have beneficial effects not only on heart and blood vessels but also on the way our body regulates metabolism.”
Dr Shelley Gorman, of the Telethon Kids Institute, said: “Our findings are important because they suggest that exposure to sunlight, together with plenty of exercise and a healthy diet, may help prevent the development of obesity in children.”
Professor David Ray, of Manchester University, said: “These findings support the idea that a healthy lifestyle should include time outside in the sunshine, not only for exercise but also to benefit from sunlight on skin.”
As well as nitric oxide, the body produces vitamin D in response to sunlight, which also has health benefits.
Dr Richard Elliott, of Diabetes UK, said: “This study in mice suggests that low doses of sunlight might help to reduce risk factors for Type 2 diabetes by an effect unrelated to vitamin D, but further research is needed to see if this also applies in humans.
“We know that spending more time outdoors contributes to a healthier lifestyle in other ways, such as through exercise.”
The 20 foods that increase nitric oxide
1. Dark Chocolate
Several studies have documented that cocoa, especially the raw kind, increases nitric oxide production and lowers blood pressure.
There is also evidence of cacao healing the endolethium (the thin layer of cells that lines the interior surface of blood vessels) by increasing the amount of cells that repair it.
The crucial part in choosing right kind of cacao is the quality. If possible you should always buy raw unprocessed kind, because the ones they sell on markets are so overprocessed that they shouldn’t be even called chocolate anymore.
Watermelon contains a lot of the amino acid L-Citrulline that is one of the best natural compounds to increase nitric oxide, proven by countless of studies.
Read this post to learn more about L-Citrulline and how it converts into nitric oxide in the body.
If I would have to choose the best food for nitric oxide production and testosterone levels, it would be pomegranate.
Pomegranate has been performing perfectly in every single study that it has been researched for, producing effects such as reducing arterial plaque thickness by 30% and increasing testosterone levels by 22% in peer reviewed studies.
Walnuts are packed with vitamin E which helps you arteries and testosterone levels.
Also it has been recently studied and proved to increase nitric oxide production and also to lower blood pressure, significantly.
This is probably due to the high amounts of L-Arginine found in walnuts, which has been linked to an increase in nitric oxide production, more about L-Arginine here.
5. Brown rice
Rice might seem like a food that has nothing on it. Actually I thought so for years myself.
Recently though I stumbled into this one study that showed a significant increase in nitric oxide levels after the subjects had consumed brown rice.
Shortly after that I found another one which stated that brown rice also relaxed arterial walls and improved bloodflow significantly.
Spinach is known to have one of the highest nitrate contents of all plants, which means that it’s a pretty awesome food to eat if you are looking to increase nitric oxide production.
Learn more about nitrates in foods and how those convert into nitric oxide, here.
Oranges and orange juice contains high amounts of vitamin C, which has been shown to protect your precious nitric oxide molecules from free radicals.
So ideally there would be no point in increasing your nitric oxide levels without consuming vitamin C and antioxidants at the same time, because without the vitamin C, your beloved nitric oxide would just oxidize away before really doing anything in your body.
Beetroot is one of those foods that contain nitrates as explained here.
The thing that really makes beets so amazing is the fact that it is one of those foods that has highest nitrate count in all of plants, and at the same time beets are capable to lower your estrogen levels by acting as a methylator as explained here.
There are countless of health benefits that link back to cranberries.
Possibly one of the less known ones is the fact that cranberries increase nitric oxide production, while lowering blood pressure significantly at the same time. This was found out by a study conducted back in the year 2000.
Researchers say that garlic is a potent activator of NOS (nitric oxide synthase), and produces same kind of effects as Cialis or Viagra.
In one study it was noted that garlic decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure by 8 points on subjects with high blood pressure. That’s a very impressive result from a food, as it shows to be working even better than most of the high blood pressure medications.
11. Black tea
Black tea contains caffeine which acts as a vasoconstrictor, and that’s the main reason why black tea is not something you usually see on a list of foods that increase nitric oxide. But despite black teas caffeine content, it still has some major vasodilating effects.
Many studies claim that black tea significantly increases nitric oxide production and lessens the arterial stiffness.
On top of that there is this study done back in 2009 which claims that more black tea = more bloodflow.
12. Cayenne pepper
Cayenne pepper contains high amount of capsaicin, the compound that makes all chili’s hot.
One study noted that capsaicin has a dose dependent effect, meaning that more the subjects consumed capsaicin, the more their nitric oxide levels increased and arteries relaxed.
One animal study claims that honey significantly increases nitric oxide production.
This is probably caused by either the high enzyme content, or the high nitrate content that honey has.
Like almost all nuts, pistachios are also packed with L-Arginine, a precursor of nitric oxide, that is known for its ability to increase nitric oxide production significantly.
Wild salmon is a very good source of co-enzyme Q10, enzyme that can be spotted on moisturizer adds for women.
Co-enzyme Q10 is not only great for soothing wrinkles, it’s also a very good nitric oxide booster as it has been shown in dozens of studies to increase nitric oxide production significantly.
Kale is also a very good source of co-enzyme Q10 which boosts nitric oxide.
Kale also has very high nitrate content which makes it very good nitric oxide booster.
Theres also many other health benefits linked to kale, such as increased testosterone levels and improved arterial health.
17. Animal organs
One of the greatest foods that every man should be consuming are the animal organs.
The organs contain high amounts of cholesterol and healthy fat-soluble vitamins that boost your testosterone levels.
Those organs are also very good source for co-enzyme Q10 that increases nitric oxide levels, so it’s a win-win situation if you eat organs!
Onions are not only good for your testosterone levels, as they have been shown to increase nitric oxide production in 2 different studies.
They are also a very good source of vitamin C, which as explained above protects your nitric oxide molecule from free radicals.
Onions also contain a compound called quercetin, explained briefly here. Querceting is well known for its ability to boost nitric oxide levels.
Shrimps are one of the best sources of dietary L-Arginine, as mentioned above L-Arginine is an amino acid and precursor of nitric oxide.
By consuming shrimps you are essentially increasing the amount of L-Arginine in your body which then converts into nitric oxide.
20. Peanut butter
Nuts are high in arginine and peanut butter is filled with what? Peanuts of course! Now what could be any more easier than consuming some tasty peanut butter to increase nitric oxide production? Nothing. Except perhaps eating a watermelon…
Anyhow consume some peanut butter, preferably organic kind with unprocessed peanuts to increase your nitric oxide levels naturally.