Activated Charcoal is everywhere! From raw juice, to ice cream, lattes, burgers, waffles, toothpaste, shampoo, and beyond–it really is the new “black ink” sensation. That said, how many of us actually know what it does and whether or not it is safe for long term use? Because it’s a pigment not easily found in food–let alone nature, I feel the fascination stems from the fact it’s jet black and just plain fun. It harkens to the depths of the seas where long lived tales of ink filled creatures reside. Furthermore, while it has documented use in treating acute poisoning, it
Every now and then there are discoveries that can be called true paradigm shifts in nutrition. NOx technology is exactly that, a monumental paradigm shift.
Nitric oxide (NO) is a small, very simple molecule made up of just two atoms, nitrogen and oxygen. After extensive research in 1998, the Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded to three researchers in elucidating the mechanism of action of NO which at the time was called endothelial relaxing factor (EFR) or relaxer of blood vessels.
Since then, the research into the biology of NO has progressed with zealous fervor. NO has been shown to be an important signaling molecule which is produced in our bodies for specific purposes. NO is involved in essentially all important aspects of our biology including regulation of blood pressure, nerve transmission, brain function, penile erection, immunity, metabolism, gastro intestinal health, kidney function and more. The reason for this is due to the fact that NO itself is a radical and thus is highly prone to reacting with a wide variety of tissues and molecules e.g. enzymes, lipids and proteins. The diversity of these physiological processes, which are precisely controlled, is quite remarkable.
Up till 1994 it was thought that the only way to produce NO was via the amino acid L-Arginine. L-Arginine could be oxidized via the various enzymes present (called NO synthases) throughout the body. However, this process was dependent on adequate amount of oxygen, higher pH’s and the activity of these enzymes. Then in 1994, two independent research teams from Sweden and the UK showed that there was an alternate mechanism of generating NO. This was a radical finding (no pun intended) and it seemed that this was nature’s way of having a backup system in place during times of emergencies like when there isn’t much oxygen e.g. during strenuous exercise, asthma, heart disease like angina, high altitudes, or infections such as upper respiratory tract infection and so on, and also when the pH of the body becomes acidic which often happens when there is insufficient oxygen. Moreover, the process was opposite to oxidation, it was a process via reduction and occurred much quicker than the long winded conversion from L-Arginine. Moreover, the amount of the active ingredient required was significantly lower (10 fold at least) than the quantity of L-Arginine required (e.g. several grams versus couple of hundred milligrams).
The active ingredient is the nitrate; over 80% of which comes from our diet, chiefly through the consumption of fruits and vegetables like spinach, celery, broccoli, lettuce and particularly beetroot. These and other leafy green vegetables are loaded with nitrates and the body is able to quickly absorb these and reduce them first in the mouth and then in the stomach into NO. The effect is quite rapid e.g. consumption of half liter of beetroot juice results in a blood pressure reduction as early as 30 minutes. Furthermore, the effects last for well over 24 hours. Again, unlike L-Arginine supplementation the effect is considerably longer lasting.
Nitrate rich formulas have been used by Chinese physicians since the 11th century and unlike the prescriptive nitrates (glyceryl trinitrate) used for angina, do not develop tolerance and are thus more useful. Interestingly, good health often equated with the consumption of fruits and vegetables may in large part be due to the high nitrate content. Many healthy diets like the Mediterranean diet or DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension) and Japanese diets are extremely high in the nitrate content. Furthermore, as we age the levels of NO in the body decreases and may account for the increased blood pressure, susceptibility to infections, increased disease of the heart, kidneys and the brain as well as poor immune function.
One of the biggest concerns over using nitrates is the negative associations with cancer, especially cancer of the liver and the stomach due to the potential formation of carcinogenic substances called nitrosamines. However, careful review of the literature suggests that within the regulatory (WHO, European Food Safety Authority, Expert Committee on Food Additives etc) guidelines for nitrate dose, there is no relationship between risk of cancer or other adverse health consequences. In fact, these conservative guidelines may in fact be depriving the body of this unique opportunity of synthesizing the NO molecule. There are other anomalies about nitrates being classified as dangerous. First, on a regular basis, the body actually uses nitrates in large quantities to produce nitrites. In fact nitrites act as a reservoir or depot for NO for future requirements by the body. In situations where NO is required, the circulating nitrite is quickly converted into NO and once NO has performed its biological function it is converted back into nitrite for future needs. This way the body can easily modulate its NO requirements. Second, a plate of salad typically contains more nitrate than the maximum daily intake as per regulations. Isn’t consumption of more salads good for us? Third, human breast milk is loaded with nitrates perhaps in part to offer maximal protection to the newborn. Finally, people living in high altitudes like Tibet have increased nitrate and NO levels.
NO generation from nitrates offers a significant advantage especially during periods of stress, and various physical and environmental insults (e.g. pollution). By maintaining levels of NO, one can achieve significant health benefits as well as optimal exercise performance. Studies show that increased intake of nitrates decreases the time of exhaustion, in other words, it increases endurance and physical performance.
The NOx technology utilizes the latest research in maximizing NO levels, rapidly and safely. This is achieved through use of proprietary technology that prevents any nitrosamine formation and promoting optimal health.