Are you part of the 60% of Americans who regularly use mouthwash as part of your oral care routine? STOP! Before you reach for that bottle again, it’s crucial to understand how this common practice might be impacting your overall health, particularly your cardiovascular wellness.
The Hidden Dangers of Mouthwash and Antacids
Many of us are unaware that certain everyday products like mouthwash and antacids could be silently affecting our health. While they might seem beneficial or harmless, these products can interfere with the body’s production of a vital molecule: nitric oxide.
Nitric Oxide: A Molecule Essential for Life
In 1998, the Nobel Prize in Physiology was awarded for the discovery of nitric oxide, a molecule that plays a critical role in various bodily functions. These include:
- Oxygen delivery to tissues
- Stem cell function
- Memory and cognition
- Immune response
- Respiratory and cardiovascular health
Understanding the importance of nitric oxide is especially crucial considering that cardiovascular disease remains the leading cause of death in the U.S.
The Role of Nitric Oxide in Cardiovascular Health
A well-functioning heart requires excellent blood flow for oxygen and nutrient delivery. One of the leading causes of heart disease is high blood pressure, which is often a result of constricted blood vessels. Nitric oxide acts as a relaxant for the smooth muscles in blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure and improve blood flow.
The Connection Between Diet and Nitric Oxide
So, how is nitric oxide produced in the body? It’s generated in two ways, with diet playing a crucial role. Foods like vegetables and cured meats are rich in nitrates (composed of one nitrogen and three oxygen atoms) and nitrites (with two oxygen atoms). However, nitrates are inactive and must be converted into nitrites, and then into nitric oxide.
The Critical Role of Oral Microbiome
Imagine you’re enjoying a nitrate-rich salad with spinach, lettuce, radishes, beets, and celery. After ingestion, these nitrates travel through your bloodstream to your salivary glands. Here’s where it gets fascinating: the bacteria in your oral microbiome convert these nitrates into nitrites. This conversion is something our bodies cannot do alone, highlighting the importance of a healthy oral microbiome.
Why Mouthwash Might Be Harmful
Regular use of mouthwash can disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in your mouth, impeding the conversion of nitrates to nitrites. Without this conversion, your body’s ability to produce nitric oxide diminishes, potentially leading to increased blood pressure and a higher risk of cardiovascular issues.
A Call to Action
At WellCentric Health in Reno, NV, we encourage you to rethink your daily oral care routine and diet choices. Understanding the intricate relationship between your oral microbiome, nitric oxide production, and heart health is a significant step towards a healthier you.
By embracing a holistic approach to health, we can better protect our heart and overall well-being. Remember, sometimes the smallest changes in our daily habits can have the most profound impact on our health.
If you are interested in learning more about how daily habits can affect your overall health, schedule your Functional Medicine consultation with WellCentric Health in Reno, NV today!