CRAMPS !!!

Posted: January 11, 2018 in Uncategorized

Our muscles help make every movement possible by contracting and relaxing. To allow our body to move properly, our muscles perform both of these actions simultaneously. What happens when the relaxed muscles contract as well? The result is CRAMPS. Cramps are sudden and involuntary contraction of one or more supposedly relaxed muscles, rendering the affected area temporarily impossible to use. The most clear-cut symptom is a sharp pain and we may feel a hard lump of tissue beneath the skin. Cramps mainly occur due to muscle overuse or when we hold a position for a prolonged period. Inadequate blood supply, nerve compression or mineral depletion may lead to muscle cramps.

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In our lower torso, cramps typically affect our calf muscles. To get the help, we may stand 60 – 90 cm away from a wall while keeping the soles flat on the floor and bend forward and lean on the wall (feel the calf muscles stretch). Applying a heat/ice pack or taking a warm bath may work as well.

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Period cramps are common and one popular way to treat is by applying heat to the abdomen, which may help relieve pain. Using a hot water bottle or taking a hot bath may also help.

We must exercise our core regularly to make it stronger, which helps manage cramping. Applying essential oils (lavender, cinnamon, rose, clove, and almond) to our stomach may be an effective strategy as they’re filled with unique compounds that may help reduce pain, inflammation and discomfort, as well as helping us relax.

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Stomach cramps occur when the abdominal muscles contract. Dehydration, build-up of gas, or digestive issues/constipation contribute to stomach cramps. Drinking chamomile tea, peppermint, ginger may also help calm an upset stomach.

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Neck cramp/stiff neck, generally occurs when the neck muscles weaken over time due to overuse or poor posture. Looking down at the computer monitor throughout the day, driving or using the smartphone for prolonged periods can weaken neck muscles. For this, we may place one hand over the sore spot and firmly push the affected area with our fingers but not hard enough to cause a sharp pain. Then turn our head slightly in the direction opposite of the cramp and bend it diagonally and repeat. Also, roll the shoulders backwards and down and squeeze the shoulder blades together. Place the hands at the back of the head and push into them, then hold for 30 seconds. Finally, tilt the head shoulder to shoulder on each side. We got to make ensure to practice proper posture regardless of what we’re doing, such as positioning computer monitor at eye level and moving our neck frequently when driving to ensure our muscles remain active.

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Hand cramps are generally caused by dehydration, injuries or overuse. They may be a symptom of rheumatoid arthritis; inflammation in the joints caused by arthritis generally affects muscle function. For this, we can use the opposite hand, lightly push back all four fingers and thumb on the cramped hand and supplement this method with a heat wrap or running our hand under warm water.

Eating unhealthy food causes vitamin deficiencies that ultimately affect how our body performs. Most of us are deficient in magnesium, a mineral that performs a vital role in healthy muscle function. Low levels of it can lead to cramps, as well as other musculoskeletal conditions such as chronic back pain. Potassium has been linked to cramps as well. To reduce our risk of cramps, it’s important that we eat healthy foods so our body performs at its peak. Dark leafy greens (kale & spinach), raw nuts (almonds and hazelnuts) and fruits (apples) are rich sources of magnesium. Avocado, papaya and salmon are some good sources of potassium.

 

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Meditation practice can be an important part of health and well-being. It not only is a powerful means of relaxing, but also useful for addressing anxiety, managing pain, preventing disease and relieving stress. Brain imaging has shown meditation alters our brain in beneficial ways, and scientists have identified thousands of genes that appear to be directly influenced by our subjective mental state. The mind-body connection is real, and what we think does affect our health. A research suggests a persistent negative state of mind is a risk factor for heart disease. Happiness, optimism, life satisfaction and other positive psychological states are associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Meditation has been shown to boost optimism and help regulate mood. Meditative practices have also been shown to help optimize our LDL cholesterol and lower our blood pressure, cortisol and heart rate.

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In addition to promoting heart health, meditation boosts emotional health & well-being, helps fight addictions, increases feeling of compassion and kindness, lessens anxiety and depression, promotes concentration and memory, encourages self-awareness, improves sleep, lengthens attention span, manages pain, reduces stress. Meditation can be considered a form of “mental exercise” for our brain. Through meditation, we get better acquainted with the behavior of our minds, and enhance our ability to regulate our experience of our environment, rather than letting our environment dictate how we experience life.

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Stress is one of the biggest challenges we face. Nearly 40% reported overeating or eating unhealthy foods as a result of stress, while 46% said they lie awake at night due to high stress levels. Meditation is a simple technique we can practice anytime, anywhere to alleviate stress. Gratitude can be a great focal point for lower stress. Simply reflecting on things for which we can be thankful can do wonders to energize our mood and ratchet down our stress levels.

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Essential oils can enhance our meditation experience by promoting relaxation, peacefulness and mental clarity. They help stimulate our senses and promote relaxation during meditation. We may apply essential oils to pulse points and the bottoms of our feet, or our wrists for self-directed inhalation. When we inhale the fragrance of an essential oil, the aroma penetrates our bloodstream via our lungs. This is thought to be one of the mechanisms by which aromatherapy exerts its physiological effects. The fragrance affects our brain’s limbic system, which controls both memories and emotions. Many essential oils have antibacterial, anti fungal and/or antiviral qualities and, unlike antibiotics, they don’t promote resistance. Lavender, lemon, peppermint, pine, vetiver and ylang ylang have been shown to be effective in reducing stress, while lavender, orange, roman chamomile and sandalwood are used to soothe anxiety.

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Those who practice mind-body medicine recognize the interconnection of all things, i.e. our mind, body and surrounding environment. As such, every breath puts us in harmony, or sets us at odds, with whatever is going on in and around us. That said, health is best defined as a state of optimal well-being, wholeness and vitality, not simply the absence of disease. When our thoughts and physical nature are in harmony, we are more likely to listen to our body, treat it well and make choices that support our well-being. To cultivate our personal mind-body connection, each day we should:

Take time to quiet our mind and meditate.

Eat a healthy diet.

Engage in daily exercise and non-exercise movement.

Get adequate sleep.

Cultivate loving relationships.

Enjoy laughter.

Flexible and Healthy Joints

Posted: December 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

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Guide to keep the joints healthy and flexible:

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Exercise. There’s a common myth that exercise is bad for our joints. Most people have little appreciation for how powerful exercise can be in supporting joint function. Vigorous low-impact exercise is beneficial for our joints, as well as for cardiovascular, pulmonary, and other systems in our body. It’s simply a myth that we can “wear down” our knees just from average levels of exercise. In fact, inactivity causes our muscles to become weaker and actually works against optimal joint flexibility and comfort. One caution, however, we need to start slowly if we haven’t been exercising regularly, and build up to higher activity levels otherwise we risk incurring an injury.

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Achieve the optimal weight to improve the bio-mechanic function. One of the outstanding benefits of exercise is its ability to help us achieve and maintain our ideal weight which is highly beneficial to our joints. Overweight/obese people compromise joint comfort. People who are at their optimal weight, experience increased joint health as compared to obese or overweight. So we go full circle; losing weight reduces the load on our joints and makes it easier to exercise, and exercising helps us lose weight and supports our joint health.

Eat a higher quality diet. Eliminate sugar, starchy carbs and soda from the diet as they raise uric acid levels, which is hard on our joints.

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Optimize the vitamin D levels. Vitamin D also supports a healthy immune response. If our levels fall, we give up the support this vitamin offers for our joints and our whole body.

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Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from high-quality fish oil as it supports our joint health.

Free Radicals And Anti-Oxidants

Posted: December 22, 2017 in Uncategorized

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Highly reactive free radicals can damage important molecules like DNA, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids. They can also overwhelm the body and lead to inflammation, accelerated aging and oxidative aging. Free radicals develop because of enzymatic and non-enzymatic reactions, which are normal metabolic processes. In some cases, our immune system, which is responsible for shielding our body from illness, can create free radicals on purpose to neutralize viruses and bacteria. Free radicals may also develop because of exposure to x-rays, ozone rays, cigarette smoke, air pollutants, heat, industrial chemicals etc. To combat free radicals, we should increase the intake of antioxidants since these may slow down or even prevent the oxidation of molecules.

Exercise-induced hypothermia is also another possible reason for increased free radical production in the body. However, while exercise is known to increase free radical production, it’s unlikely that exercise causes substantial damages to a normal healthy individual. Lastly, aside from physical activity, there are foods that can cause free radical formation:

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Fats and oils: These oxidize during storage because of exposure to light, air or heat. Also by heating those to high temperatures, such as when deep-frying. Or, if we reuse cooking fats, they tend to be more oxidized and can produce even more free radicals.

Cooked and processed meats: These foods can become oxidized at high temperatures because of fat(s) in them. Meanwhile, preservatives added to them can also prompt free radical production.

Alcoholic drinks: These have been classified as a human carcinogen, and because alcohol creates free radicals in the body, this can lead to an increased cancer risk.

Increased amounts of free radicals in the body can also cause poor cell performance and raise a person’s risk for conditions like Parkinson’s disease, skin inflammation, cataracts, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Antioxidants break up free radicals by giving up their own electrons to “feed” free radicals, without developing into free radicals themselves. It’s vital that we maintain our body’s antioxidant levels, because a low supply can increase our risk for oxidative stress, and lead to the onset of accelerated tissue and organ damage, and any of the diseases mentioned earlier. Other positive effects that they deliver include slowing down the aging process and promoting optimal skin health, repairing damaged molecules, boosting gene expression and endogenous antioxidant production, acting as a shield against attacks by free radicals.

It’s recommended to get a wide array of antioxidants from different sources and not just stick to one or two types, to reap optimal benefits. Some of the most ideal antioxidants include:

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Glutathione: It’s found in every single cell of the body and is helpful in protecting the cells and mitochondria from oxidative and peroxidative damage.

Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): What makes ALA stand out from other antioxidants is its ability to be easily transported to our brain, making it helpful for people with brain-related diseases.

Vitamin C: This has been called the “grandfather” of traditional antioxidants because of its benefits to the body, especially for the bones, blood vessels, tendons and ligaments.

Vitamin E: There are 8 natural vitamin E compounds: 4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols.

We can boost our antioxidant levels by significantly increasing our intake of foods like fresh and organically grown vegetables and fruits (squash, peppers, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, oranges, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries and raspberries). However, we should consume the fruits in moderation, as fructose in them can wreak havoc on the body if consumed in large amounts. To improve heart health and overall wellbeing, we should add walnuts and hazelnuts in the diet. Fresh herbs (cloves, cinnamon, oregano, turmeric, ginger and garlic) are more abundant in antioxidants compared to processed and powdered versions. A powerful antioxidant which can be beneficial for heart health, physical performance and weight can be found in green tea.

Our lifestyle plays a big role in increasing and/or maintaining constant amounts of antioxidants in the body, stabilizing our health and preventing different disorders from affecting us. We must make sure to get constant and moderate exercise, relieve stress by practicing yoga, meditation, mindfulness training, get enough high-quality sleep, avoid smoking and reduce/eliminate sugar from our diet.

***Always consult the physician/nutritionist prior to taking any supplements.

 

 

 

 

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“Strong body, strong mind” is not just an expression. Scientific evidence demonstrates regular exercise improves our productivity, sleep quality and blood flow to our brain, while reducing the development of damaging neurological plaques. Unfortunately, very few of us, over the age of 45, engage in resistance exercises, which are the most important exercises to stay fit and healthy. In fact, our muscle strength begins to decrease in our 30s by as much as 3-5% of muscle mass per decade after 30, unless we do something to stop it.

Resistance training or strength training, is the strategy we may use to stop this natural decline of strength and muscle mass. But, gaining strength is only one of the benefits of resistance training, as this also helps prevent osteoporosis, improves our range of motion and our ability to do our functional day-to-day activities with greater ease. The importance of resistance training for the muscular strength and physical functioning in older adults is well-known. The benefits of strength training go beyond improving our mental and psychological health. As strength training builds lean muscle mass, it also increases our caloric burn during exercise and afterward, helping us lose weight and maintain weight loss.

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Strength training stresses our bones, which increases our bone density and reduces our risk of osteoporosis. Resistance training improves muscle strength and mass supporting our large joints, such as our knees and hips that bear much of the stress when we are walking and moving. This strength reduces pain related to osteoarthritis and reduces our risk of injury. The regular resistance and strength exercises could provide significant gains on the upper and lower body strength concomitant to positive improvements on cognitive capacities of elderly, bringing enhanced life quality. Resistance training also has a positive effect on anxiety. In a study, researchers found those who practiced low-to-moderate intensity resistance exercises enjoyed a reliable reduction in symptoms of anxiety.

Research has demonstrated that progressive strength training in the elderly can reduce age-related muscle loss and helps us retain motor function. Age-related decline in muscle mass and strength may be an early indicator of the potential for falls in the elderly, even those who are not frail. Studies have also demonstrated that resistance training improves balance in the elderly, and may be more effective in reducing the risk for falls than aerobic or cardiovascular training.

Surveys have shown that demand for medicare in India is growing at over 25% and the costs of hospitalization and surgery are spiraling. Every year more seniors are hospitalized due to an injury after a fall and improving strength and balance in the elderly may reduce the number of those who fall and the overall direct and indirect medical costs to families and the community.

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We need to participate in a resistance program to improve our balance, strength and mental health. Before plunging headlong into any workout, we must think about the following:

Consider the medical history – If one has a current medical condition, such as arthritis or cardiovascular disease, or a current injury, he/she must work with a certified personal coach who has experience designing and adapting exercises as per the person’s situation. Include strength training with flexibility activities that help improve balance and the range of motion.

Schedule – Choose times of the day when any inflammation or pain is at the lowest level. Avoid exercising when the stiffness is at the worst, such as first thing in the morning.

Warm up -It is important to warm the muscles and joints using gentle stretches or lower intensity exercises. Muscles and joints that are warmed up have additional blood supply that may help reduce the risk of injury.

Start slowly – When starting resistance exercises, one may easily overdo it and suffer from inflamed muscles that can side-line him/her for weeks. If one has an inflammatory condition such as arthritis, he must consider balancing the exercise and rest carefully.

Keep watch – Do not close the eyes during the exercises as it dramatically increases the risk of losing the balance.

Posture – Pay close attention to the form and posture while performing exercises. Unbalanced or improper weight distribution may lead to injury. One must perform all exercises under the supervision and assistance of a certified and qualified personal coach.

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Snoring: Alleviate It Naturally

Posted: December 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

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Sleeping is one of the foundations of optimal health, and being deficient in high-quality sleep can open us up to all sorts of health problems. Snoring occurs when the muscles in our throat are in relaxation mode, which is the case when we sleep. As we fall into deep sleep, our throat muscles relax, making the air passageway narrower and floppy. Our tongue also falls backwards. With every breath, our throat vibrates, this is what causes the characteristic sound of snoring. As our airway becomes narrower, the louder the snoring becomes. This is because the air struggles to get through our soft palate, tongue, uvula and tonsils.

One of the most common beliefs about snoring is that it’s caused by sleeping on our back. This is somewhat true, as a study found that 54% of snorers develop it due to their sleeping position. The other common causes of snoring are:

Having enlarged tonsils or adenoids, a deviated nasal septum or nasal polyps can also worsen the narrowing of the throat during sleep.

Inflammation in the nose and/or throat, i.e. a respiratory infection or allergy attack, can lead to snoring. Having chronic nasal congestion can also bring on snoring.

Drinking alcohol especially before bedtime, can prompt the throat muscles to relax, as well as lower our natural defences against airway obstruction.

Obstructed sleep apnea; impaired breathing brought on by an obstructed airway during sleeping. It must be addressed immediately, as it leads to an array of health issues, including heart disease, gout, type diabetes poor immune function, depression etc.

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In the long term, a sleep deficiency can trigger a whole host of chronic health problems, from diabetes and obesity to immune problems, and even an increased cancer risk. Given all the repercussions linked to this problem, it only makes sense to employ methods to effectively get rid of snoring. The snoring solutions come in various forms; snoring chin straps and mouthpieces or mouth guards that work by re-positioning our jaw in such a way that our airway opens properly.

Sleeping sideways may be effective, as it prevents the tongue from falling backward in the throat and causing an obstruction in the airway.

Raising the head of the bed can help prevent our airways from collapsing.

Just before bedtime, put the head over a bowl of hot water, cover it with a towel and inhale the steam deeply, it helps clear out our airways and minimize swelling in our nasal passages.

A full stomach can push against our diaphragm, further hindering our ability to breathe easily.

Overweight people typically have extra tissues in their throat, which contribute to snoring.

Avoid alcohol and tobacco use; it leads to worse snoring. Smoking irritates the lining of our throat and nose, causing it to swell and decreasing airflow.

Drinking milk before bedtime can make snoring worse since it forms a mucus layer over our throat and tongue.

Like alcohol, sedatives can depress our central nervous system and excessively relax our muscles, including the tissues in our throat.

In addition to the above, we must make sure to get sufficient sleep every night. The experts found that the ideal sleep amount for most adults is around 8 hours per night.

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High-quality essential oils have a wide array of medicinal uses; they are found to potentially help alleviate snoring. Some of the best oils that can help ease snoring include sage, eucalyptus, marjoram, lavender, thyme, cedar wood, mint, tea tree and lemon. These oils can be added to a diffuser or inhaled via steam inhalation. We can also rub them on our chest or near our nasal cavity, but must sure they are properly diluted in a safe carrier oil before doing so. We should do a skin patch test as well to ensure that we have no allergies to the oil.

 

The Biggest Health Paradox

Posted: December 13, 2017 in Uncategorized

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John Warner, cardiologist and president of the American Heart Association (AHA), suffered a heart attack at the age of 52. He followed AHA recommendations, many of which can actually worsen or cause heart disease. Of the foods scientifically proven to cause heart disease and clogged arteries, excess sugar and industrially processed omega-6 vegetable oils, compete for space at the top the list.

AHA supports ample grain consumption, it also recommends eating canola, corn, soybean and sunflower oil; blends or combinations of these oils, often sold under the name ‘vegetable oil’. The association still insists saturated fats are to be avoided. AHA shocked health experts around the world by saying saturated fats such as butter and coconut oil should be avoided to cut our risk of heart disease, and to replace these fats with margarine and vegetable oils to cut our heart disease risk.

If Warner was following this advice, it’s no wonder he suffered a heart attack. AHA issued new guidelines on blood pressure; now we’re considered hypertensive if our blood pressure is above 130 over 80. Previous guidelines started hypertension at 140 over 90. This means millions of us will qualify for having high blood pressure and 1 in 5 are likely to receive the recommendation to take blood pressure medication.

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Since the 1950s, when vegetable oils began being promoted over saturated fats like butter, we have followed the advice ti increase the consumption of vegetable oil. Soybean oil has risen by 600% while butter has been halved. We’ve also increased sugar consumption, which has also been implicated as a primary contributor to heart disease and other chronic health problems. While following this advice, we have gotten fatter and sicker. Heart disease rates have not improved even though people have been following the AHA’s “heart healthy diet.”

Dr. Sanjoy Ghosh, a biologist at the University of British Columbia, has shown our mitochondria can’t easily use polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for fuel due to the fats’ unique molecular structure. PUFAs are also not readily stored in subcutaneous fat. Instead, PUFAs tend to get deposited in our liver, where they contribute to fatty liver disease, and in our arteries, where they contribute to coronary artery disease.

Frances Sladek, Ph.D., a professor of cell biology at UC Riverside says, PUFAs behave like a toxin that builds up in tissues because our body can’t easily rid itself of it. When vegetable oils like sunflower oil and corn oil are heated, cancer-causing chemicals are produced.

The AHA claim that saturated fat is pro-inflammatory and causes arterial plaque and heart attacks but there is no biochemically plausible explanation for this argument. Our bodies do need some PUFA but we need it to come from food like walnuts and salmon or flax seed oil, not from vegetable oils because these are refined, bleached and deodorized, and the PUFA fats are molecularly mangled into toxins our body can’t use.

Dr. William Davis, a New York cardiologist writes,  that heart disease is a multi-factorial problem that can’t be solved with a pill. Thinking that a statin drug is sufficient to prevent coronary events is absurd. There are no drugs to ‘treat’ many of the contributors to coronary atherogenesis but there are many non-drug strategies to identify, then correct, such causes. Non-drug prevention strategies suggested are:

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Avoiding any and all dietary factors that provoke insulin resistance, glycation and formation of small, dense LDL particles; this include avoiding the harmful fats such as margarine and processed vegetable oils, and keeping our total daily fructose consumption below 25 grams/day.

Optimizing our vitamin D level.

Optimizing our omega-3 fat intake: An omega-3 index of 10% or greater is associated with dramatic reduction in cardiovascular events. Diets lower in omega-3s increased the risk of nonfatal myocardial infarction and death from heart disease by 13%; a mixed diet of both omega-3 and omega-6 fats reduced these risks by 22%.

Addressing our thyroid function.

Optimizing our gut microbiome to address issues caused by excess sugar, chlorinated and fluoridated water and exposure to antibiotics, pesticides and common heartburn drugs.

Dr. Thomas Cowan, founding member of the Weston A. Price Foundation says that the following natural energies result in a separation of charges that improve blood flow:

Sunlight charges up our blood vessels, which increases the flow of blood. When the sun’s rays penetrate our skin, it causes a massive increase of nitric oxide that acts as a vasodilator. As much as 60% of our blood can be shunted to the surface of our skin through the action of nitric oxide. The ideal is to be exposed to the sun while grounding, meaning walking barefoot, this forms a biological circuit that makes it work even better.

Negative ions from the Earth, also known as earthing or grounding. This charges up our blood vessels, creates a separation of charges and allows the blood to flow upward, against gravity.

Good heart health is dependent on our diet; what we eat and when we eat. Other important lifestyle strategies to protect our heart are to get regular exercise, to get enough sleep and to avoid electromagnetic fields. It prompts our body to release nitric oxide, which will help relax our blood vessels and improve our blood pressure.