5 Things You Should Know About Nitric Oxide, Dietary Nitrate and Diabetes

Nitric Oxide Diabetes

In the US over 29 million people or about ten percent of the population suffer from diabetes, and it’s the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. It goes without saying, but there is nothing good about diabetes.Researchers around the world have been studying the effects of nitric oxide and dietary nitrate on diabetes. Here are five of the most fascinating things that they’ve uncovered.

Please note that this information is not medical advice. It was written for informational and entertainment purposes only.

1. Dietary Nitrate and Weight Loss

A study published in the journal named Diabetes found that dietary nitrate may aid in weight loss by helping to change white fat into brown fat. Brown fat has energy-burning properties and is more common in lean people and is used by animals to keep warm during hibernation.

2. Nitric Oxide and Wound Healing

Nitric oxide is a mediator of wound healing, vasodilation and anti-microbial activity. Diabetes impairs wound healing.  This is in part because diabetes can impair the body’s natural ability to produce nitric oxide. (See next bullet point).

One study on arginine supplementation and diabetic rats found that nitric oxide helped restore impaired healing.  Another studied found that microscopic nano-particles that released nitric oxide also improved wound healing. Other studies have found that nitric oxide is used by microphages to ward off infection.

3. Nitric Oxide and Circulation

From The International Journal of Vascular Medicine

Endothelial dysfunction is a systemic pathological condition which can be broadly defined as an imbalance between vasodilating and vasoconstricting substances produced by the endothelium or overall functions of the endothelium [2]. Normal functions of endothelial cells include production of nitric oxide (NO), regulation of platelet adhesion, coagulation, immune function, control of volume, and electrolyte content of the intravascular and extravascular spaces. Endothelial dysfunction is primarily due to reduction in NO bioavailabilty, and a marker for vascular health.

Your body produces nitric oxide in the lining of its veins. When your veins and vein lining aren’t working properly, they produce less nitric oxide. Nitric oxide also protects the veins, so the more your veins get damaged, the worse off you are.

4. Nitric Oxide and Repair Cells 

A study done at the University of Florida, found that people with diabetes often have low levels of nitric oxide. Without nitric oxide, repair cells were unable to do their jobs.

From University of Florida

We went on to show that actually what’s happening is nitric oxide is affecting the skeleton, or scaffold of the cell, and by adding nitric oxide we’re able to rearrange the scaffold,” Segal said. “When we rearrange the scaffold, the cells are able to migrate. The benefit of this is that when cells have improved movement they are able to repair the endothelium (the lining of the blood vessels) better and perhaps prevent atherosclerosis.”

UF scientists suspect that in the cells taken from diabetic patients, nitric oxide interacts with a protein that steers the protein to the cell surface instead of inserting it into the cell as it would in healthy people. That causes the cell to stiffen.

The finding raises the possibility that nitric oxide could someday be used to keep the cells mobile, enabling them to travel to distant sites when needed, Segal said.

5. Dietary Nitrate and Reaction Time in Diabetics

They did a study on diabetics by giving them beet juice or a beet juice placebo. The diabetics who drank beet juice had quicker reaction times. Although there is a lot of good evidence that links beet juice supplementation to better cognitive functioning, this study provides the first direct link between beet juice supplementation and quicker reaction times that I have seen. This good news for athletes, diabetics and everyone.

What Chocolate Can Tell Us About Beet Juice and Intelligence

Beets Kidney Stones

According to popular science fiction tropes, mankind is only a few generations away from unlocking the fantastic secrets of the mind and awakening dormant psychic powers like telekinesis, precognition, scanning, the shining and mind bullets. If only we could use more than ten percent of our brains.

Turns out, we use almost all of our brains. We only really know what ten percent of our brains actually do. The brain constitutes a tiny part of our overall mass, but burns twenty percent of our energy. Our brains consume ludicrous amounts energy thinking thoughts like “What’s that smell?”  “That was good ham.” “Did the Middle Ages have a beginning and end?” or “How do tractors work?” It also does a bunch of stuff that we don’t even think about, like getting hearts to pump blood and lungs to inhale air.

But now, real actual science done by real actual scientists may have found a way to increase brain power by simply making small dietary changes.

 Nitric Oxide Has Been Linked to Improved Cognitive Functioning via Chocolate

I think about 1/3 of the Cathy comic strips in existence dealt with her love of chocolate and now her love has finally been validated by science.


And if you don’t read Cathy comic strips or don’t know who she is,  it’s because you are young and have your whole life ahead of you.

Researchers at Harvard and Brigham Young released a study last year that found that the flavanols in chocolate can help boost brain power. This may be because flavanols are  precursors to nitric oxide or they may help the body maintain optimum nitric oxide levels by strengthening the vasculature. It’s not quite understood yet.

From Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition 

Flavanol containing foods, specially cocoa and cocoa-derived products have demonstrated to have BP-lowering effects in both, humans and animals. These effects could be related to the maintenance of optimal NO levels, and could be associated with lowering superoxide anion production in the vasculature.

The Harvard/BYU researchers tested elderly people who weren’t getting adequate blood flow to the brain. After drinking hot cocoa on a regular basis, participants in the study had a 30% increase in memory capacity and had an 8.3% increase in blood flow to their noggins.

Wake Forest University did a similar study with beet juice that had similar results. The take away from these studies is twofold: Blood flow to the brain seems to increase cognitive functioning and vascular health is a huge part of keeping your brain in shape. Nitric oxide and flavanols are critical for both. You can have your cake and beet juice, too.

5 Signs Beet Juice Is Going Mainstream


If you’re a trendy hipster wannabe like myself, you probably drink beet juice through skinny, French straws, wear black turtleneck sweaters and jaunty, rakish-angled berets and curse the existential absurdities of the “About Ten Items” lane at the grocery store. Maybe you heard about [Research Latest Popular "Rock and Roll" Group and Add Name Later] back before everyone else did, and maybe you’ve been drinking beet juice to shock the middle class. Bad news, fellow hipsters. Beet juice is going mainstream. You’ll have to find some other trending craze to latch onto. May I suggest one of these possible future trends? Parallelogramming, recreational perpetual motion or colt-vaulting. Get to it.

But seriously, beet juice has gone from something very obscure and nerdy and blossomed into a nutritional worldwide phenomenon. Prior to the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide breakthrough, the only people who ate beets or drank their juice or listened to bands named after beets were Doug Funnie, people in Tom Robbins’ novels and Dwight Schrute. Beets are currently in a period of renaissance. They haven’t been this popular since the ancient Romans used them as aphrodisiacs.  Beets are going mainstream, and the evidence is mounting.

1. Football Teams Are Drinking It

We call baseball our national pastime, but our national present-time is Football. It’s almost  a patriotic duty to watch the Superbowl.

So, it was great to hear that the Auburn Tigers were drinking beet juice.  They don’t seem to like the taste of their beet juice, but they aren’t drinking Red Rush.  They should. Everyone should.

2. Finding Their Way Into Popular Diets

Beets and/or beet juice are finding their way into cleanse diets, raw food diets, pH-balancing diets, juice diets and even some paleo diets.

3. Covered By Major Papers, Publications

The New York Times, Runner’s World, The Wall Street Journal (see Auburn Tigers story), The Guardian, the BBC have featured at least one article about the beet-juice craze.  There is even a paper in the Journal of Nutritional Disorders and Therapy called “Beets Go Mainstream.

4. Famous TV and Internet Doctors Touting Beet Juice

Your Doctors OzesMercolas and Gregors have all boasted beet juice benefits on their various media.

5. Beet Juice Sales Up 20%

If those four signs weren’t clear enough. How about cold, hard economic data. The sale of beetroot has risen by 20% in the last four years.

What does this mean?  

It means that you should buy some Red Rush before not drinking beet juice becomes the unpopular thing.


New Study Finds Beet Juice May Help Heart Failure Patients, Athletes


Kansas State University recently released a study that found that beetroot juice supplementation increased athletic performance “by preferentially increasing blood flow to fast-twitch muscle fibers — the ones used for explosive running.”  A previous study by the university found that beet juice supplementation increased blood flow to skeletal muscles.

The beetroot juice consumption resulted in a 38 percent higher blood flow to the skeletal muscles during exercise and was preferential to the less-oxygenated, fast-twitch muscles.

Fast-twitch muscle fibers are believed to help develop the V02 system/maximum aerobic capacity. And recent research on exercise has shown that the aerobic energy system seems to be the key to regenerating other the forms of energy your body uses to sprint and lift. It also helps with fatigue.

Beet Juice and Heart Failure Patients

A couple of studies have come out that found that beetroot juice can lower blood pressure, but the long-term effects of beetroot juice supplementation and hypertension are still unknown, although there was a study from Emory University that found that that the body may recycle and store dietary nitrate-sourced nitrite and nitrosothiols which are released under hypoxic conditions like exercise or heart attack. Please note, however, this theory is still in the embryonic stages of research.

KSU researchers posited a new way that beet juice might help those who have suffered from heart failure.

“Heart failure is a disease where oxygen delivery to particular tissues, especially working skeletal muscles, is impaired, decreasing the capacity to move the arms or legs and be physically active,” Poole said. “The best therapy for these patients is getting up and moving around. However, that is often difficult. Increasing the oxygen delivery to these muscles through beetroot can provide a therapeutic avenue to improve the quality of life for these patients.”

–Scott Ferguson, Researcher.

Read the Study or the Press Release:

Leah McKinnies, CrossFitter, Gym Owner, Red Rush Athlete

Red Rush Athlete

Leah McKinnies is the owner of CrossFit Collision in Emmett, Idaho. She is also a CrossFit competitor, a certified CrossFit coach, an NASM certified personal trainer, an International Academy of Physique Conditioning contest preparation specialist and an ADA recognized nutrition coach.


CrossFit Collision is located on the edge of Emmett, surrounded by big sky and rolling foothills.

Red Rush CrossFit

She began teaching CrossFit in 2011 in the park downtown and eventually moved her sessions to the high school gym. Her classes continued to increase in size and popularity and her father, a contractor, built her a CrossFit box near her home.

20141021_183050 Red Rush CrossFit

CrossFt Red Rush

Red Rush: How and when did you get Involved in sports training?

Leah McKinnies: In 2003. I was overweight as a teen. I come from a very overweight family, and I was plagued with health problems. I met a friend who was into fitness, and so I started to workout. I lost a bunch of weight, but I was still a typical globo-gym -three-sets-of-twelve-and-I’m-out kind of person.

LM: I went to a supplement store, and I saw a poster for a bodybuilding show and said ‘I can do that!’ Six months later, I did one and won. From there, I turned bodybuilder and personal trainer. In 2011, I started CrossFit. I participate in the Open every year, competed in the Cross Town Throwdown and I would have been in the Backyard Brawl, but I dislocated my collarbone. I’m still not at 100%. Things like the clean and jerk can aggravate it if I put to much weight on.

RR: You train the Emmett High School football team, correct? Do you use elements of CrossFit?

LM: I do the conditioning training. We just won district. I do train with CrossFit elements: cardiovascular, plyometrics and limited weight-lifting.

RR: What would you say is the philosophy of your CrossFit Gym?

LM: Community and Acceptance. We try and encourage people to come and try it whether they think it is a fit or not. Everyone can do CrossFit: all ages, genders, and sizes. We step up and support each other and keep up that community. We do gym events and fundraisers. People even get together outside the gym. It’s like a second family.

WOD ninja

Even Ninjas are welcome

RR: What’s the best part of being a CrossFit gym owner and coach?

LM: Watching people accomplish a goal that they never thought that they would accomplish. Whether it’s lifting a certain amount or even doing a single double under. The fact that it’s a shared accomplishment makes it amazing.

Red Rush CrossFit

Red Rush CrossFit

RR: What’s the most frustrating thing?

LM: Naysayers outside the CrossFit community who make judgment calls without understanding the benefits of great CrossFit coaching and a great community.

RR: Tell me about “You Better Run.”

LM: There’s a local group of high school students who wanted to raise some money. So we did a Zombie Run, a three-mile trail and obstacle course with monsters like Freddy Krueger, Jason and Pennywise the Clown from It.  Each runner got a flag football belt, and if you lost your flags, you couldn’t win the race. Having the fastest time didn’t necessarily mean you won, you had to finish with both a flag on your belt and the best time.







RR: As a sports nutritionist, what attracted you to Red Rush? 

LM: As most people know, as a society we don’t get enough fresh vegetables. Beets are very high in nutrients, but hardly a thing many of us would actually eat. Red Rush is just a good idea. I’d never eat five beets otherwise.

I can feel a difference in terms of  recovery, endurance and I feel more alert. I’d recommend it to anyone.


Red Rush CrossFit


Baby legs

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