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What I have learned recently in my quest for eternal life is that nitric oxide is very important. It acts as a gas produced by the endothelium cells in the coronary arteries. It facilitates blood to pass along the arteries as smoothly as a hovercraft over grass. Without the nitric oxide, the red blood cells are stickier and the inside walls of the arteries are less smooth. The atherosclerotic changes can more easily become the clot of a heart attack. Now, I know that you always knew all that, but I am just recapping.
My research tells me that the best dietary sources of this important substance, nitric acid, include darkest chocolate. One man puts raw cacao powder on his breakfast.
Vitamin C, even in the peel, is another good source. This reminds me of my mother making huge smelly vats of home-made marmalade every year. This created a homely memory that has lasted a lifetime. I always had a sense that the peel itself was good for you. My ken was right.
Pomegranate. I see this whole food in more reputable restaurants these days. They look like translucent pearls of light and shades of redness. They squash between your teeth with a delightful burst.
Walnuts. Can I have them in my carrot cake please? They look like the brain. I always thought that was a hint from nature of some form.
Spinach and rocket lettuce are all the craze with juicers these days. Check out Joe Cross on Netflix: Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Raw food is the craze.
Garlic. My whole medical education/indoctrination seems to have been with people who eat garlic for brekki, lunch and dinner. They love to smell garlic. I always had my suspicions. But I get it now. They were protecting the inner layer of their endothelium by growing nitrous oxide that is converted from L-Arginine.
And finally, beetroot. I always loved the beet. Reminds me of summer salads. Bitter-sweet and a royal purple. What is there not to like about beetroot? Brings the palate alive.
So I was developing a very healthy relationship with nitrous oxide and my new whole food, raw friends, when it occurs to me: I am sure I read that pollution from petroleum products can create — yes, nitrous oxide. OMG! What is going on here? Then I also discover that exhaled nitrous oxide is used as a marker for asthma.
What is it with this nitrogen and oxygen family? Isn’t nitrous oxide, or N2O, another formal name for laughing gas, used by dentists and those who like clubbing to the early hours? That is fairly safe, isn’t it? This is no longer a laughing matter.
So what is normal, healthy air made up of? The air we know, love and breathe is made up of a whopping 78 per cent nitrogen, only 20 per cent oxygen and a minuscule 0.0350 per cent of carbon dioxide. Air pollution, on the other hand, is made up of critical pollutants: Ozone. Particulate matter. Sulphur dioxide. Nitrogen dioxide. Carbon monoxide. Lead. To confound you more, cigarette smoking reduces the amount of nitrous oxide in the healthy body and creates the milieu for heart disease.
So it seems that nitric oxide in the atmosphere causes no problems at normal ambient concentrations. But when it — and its more dangerous brother nitrogen dioxide — are mixed with smog and ozone, they create acid rain that falls on the ground to be formed into nitrate that is helpful for growing plants. But this acid rain does its ecological damage before this, destroying the Black Forests of their gateaux.
It is hard to believe that the main constituents of what we breathe to stay alive, nitrogen and oxygen, can create such harm as well as such good when their delicate inter-relationships are disturbed.
As you probably realise by now, I have been using the brain lubricant, laughing gas, while writing this article because laughing is good for the heart, apparently by increasing the production of nitrous oxide in cardiac vessels, where it should be. I am also eating spinach, and not just because Popeye said so. I have done my own research into living longer by reducing the chances of dying of a heart attack. Now you go and do your research. Long live nitrous oxide. Down with pollution.