We thought it would be a good time to share our sit down conversation with Dr. Nathan Bryan and Dr. John Ivy, and get their perspective on everything from the #1 misconception of Nitric Oxide to what they think the future holds for Nitric Oxide.
Dr. Nathan Bryan, HumanN Co-Founder and Nitric Oxide Scientist, was recruited by the Nobel Laureate, Dr. Ferid Murad to work in the N-O Discovery Program at the University of Texas. It was through this program that Dr. Bryan discovered a safe and natural way to produce Nitric Oxide gas, enabling the body to restore its N-O function. Wanting to bring this technology to the masses, he co-founded Neogenis Laboratories, now HumanN, in 2009.
With a PhD in Exercise Physiology, Dr. John Ivy is our Executive Director of Sport & Nutrition Research. He has authored over 170 scientific papers and several books, including the well-known and highly respected Nutrient Timing: The Future of Sports Nutrition. Working with notable sports greats, including swimmer Michael Phelps during his preparation for the 2008 Summer Olympics, at which he won eight gold medals, his contributions to sports nutrition and science are unparalleled.
Do you remember the first time someone mentioned Nitric Oxide to you? And if so, when was it and what piqued your interest about it?
NATHAN: It was during one of my graduate courses on cell signaling at LSU School of Medicine that I remember first learning about Nitric Oxide. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Lou Ignarro came to LSU Medical School in Shreveport and gave a lecture on N-O and his research that led to his Nobel Prize in 1998 for the discovery of Nitric Oxide. I had the honor and pleasure of having dinner with Dr. Ignarro that night after his lecture and he was so enthusiastic about the importance that I knew then that I had to focus my research efforts toward understanding Nitric Oxide in humans.
JOHN: Back in the early 1990’s, a friend and fellow scientist told me he was researching the effects of Nitric Oxide on muscle glucose transport. At the time I was not familiar with Nitric Oxide and actually did not know the body generated Nitric Oxide.
What is the number 1 thing you wish you could share with consumers everywhere about Nitric Oxide?
NATHAN: That it is truly is one of the most important molecules that your body produces. When the body loses its ability to make N-O, systems begin to fail and it can impact cardiovascular and heart health.
JOHN: I think it is important that everyone understand the importance of Nitric Oxide as it relates to one’s health, and why it is essential to maintain the body’s ability to generate sufficient levels as we age.
So what do you think the current perception of Nitric Oxide is among the everyday consumer? And what is the #1 misconception that people have about Nitric Oxide?
NATHAN: Talking to consumers and health care providers, the current perception is that N-O is just something athletes or weight lifter take to build muscle or improve vascularity. That truly trivializes what N-O is and does. Without sufficient Nitric Oxide, the body cannot function properly. We have to do a better job at educating the masses on how to recognize early deficiencies in N-O production so people can then take steps to restore their Nitric Oxide production. This will give us a chance to better manage our own long-term health. I think the #1 misconception about Nitric Oxide is that many people confuse it with nitrous oxide, the dental anesthetic or the fuel for race cars.
JOHN: While there is a greater awareness of nitric oxide among consumers than say 4 years ago, I still believe most consumers are unaware of just how important it is in controlling the numerous metabolic processes that occur in the body. In my opinion, the #1 misconception of Nitric Oxide is that simply taking arginine supplements or any beet product will increase their Nitric Oxide levels.
5 years from now, how will the perception of Nitric Oxide have changed?
NATHAN: To date there are over 148,000 published papers on the effects of Nitric Oxide in biology and medicine with an additional 7,000 published each year. With each new publication we learn something new about N-O. Healthcare practitioners, patients, consumers and the media can no longer ignore the importance of N-O in public health. With our current healthcare system and the way we practice medicine failing, the medical and scientific community will have to recognize and implement new treatment and preventative strategies. You cannot do this without considering Nitric Oxide production in each patient. I predict in 5 years, Nitric Oxide will be as pervasive and understood as important as Vitamin D or fish oil is today. Today, most Americans know about Vitamin D and fish oil and understand how important it is for health and wellness. N-O will be considered as such in the very near future.
JOHN: In 5 years, I am sure we will see Nitric Oxide boosting products designed to treat a myriad of metabolic health issues.
Should nitrate be considered a nutrient?
NATHAN: Without a doubt. Nutrients are defined as specific compounds found naturally in food that help to nourish and support life. There is a preponderance of evidence supporting nitrate and nitrite be considered nutrients. We know that deficiencies in nutrients may cause potential health issues. The average American consumes only 150 mg of nitrate per day through their diet. The evidence reveals that it takes at least 300-400 mg of nitrate to experience the functional health benefits associated with nitrate and Nitric Oxide production. Therefore, we as Americans are nitrate deficient. I don’t think it is a coincidence that we also lead the world in cardiovascular health issues. In fact, it may be one of the most important “nutrients” ever discovered in my opinion.
JOHN: Yes! Consuming nitrate is a means of increasing Nitric Oxide production. Nitrate is a naturally occurring molecule that is found in all plants to varying degrees. Research has demonstrated that a diet incorporating plants high in nitrate such as kale, beets and spinach is extremely healthy and will help support healthy blood pressure levels, cardiovascular health, and exercise endurance.
John, you spent time working with Michael Phelps and other swimmers before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Had they heard of Nitric Oxide yet and incorporated it into their exercise regimen?
JOHN: No, it was actually not widely known at the time that elevating Nitric Oxide levels prior to competition would help improve endurance and improve exercise performance. However, scientists in England were actively studying the effects of dietary nitrate (means of raising Nitric Oxide) on athletic performance. They convinced the British Olympic team to consume beetroot juice (a form of dietary nitrate) prior to competition, and the team had their most successful Olympics ever. Needless to say, the British athletes are still taking dietary nitrates prior to competition, but now along with everyone else.
Nathan, what inspired you to dedicate your life’s work and research to Nitric Oxide?
NATHAN: As a student studying molecular and cellular physiology shortly after the Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of nitric oxide, I realized this was too important not to be involved. Furthermore, at that time there was still many questions around how the body makes Nitric Oxide, what goes wrong in people that can’t make Nitric Oxide, how do we measure Nitric Oxide production in humans and perhaps most importantly, how to fix the problem in people that can’t make N-O. It gives me great pleasure knowing that my work over the past 15 years has answered these important and fundamental questions.