I was in a sporting goods store the other day and found something that surprised me. It was a high-altitude training mask. What surprised me is that the high-altitude training has gone mainstream with these masks.
I'm from Colorado, where the U.S. Olympic training facility is, so I've been aware of the benefits of training at high altitude for as long as I can remember. I grew up with it. Athletes use these masks to simulate the low-oxygen environment you would find high up in the mountains. If you've ever been to the high mountains, you know how hard it can be to breathe.
The reason training at altitude is so effective is that it trains your lungs to take deeper breaths and it also trains your body to use oxygen more efficiently. These masks can simulate this effect. But these masks can help in another way. They can help your blood flow better.
A study done in Tibet followed villagers who often live at altitudes over 12,000 feet. These villagers can live in conditions that would give most people altitude sickness because of the low oxygen concentrations. But researchers wanted to know how these people can have lower levels of oxygen in their blood even though they consume just as much as we do.
A team of researchers from Cleveland traveled to the Panam Xiang district of Tibet, which is 12,600 feet above sea level. They studied 88 healthy volunteers and compared them to a group of 50 volunteers from Cleveland (about 600 feet above sea level). When the team measured the subjects' blood flow noninvasively, they found something amazing. The Tibetans had twice as much blood flow in their arms as did the volunteers from Cleveland. This was true even though the heart rates and blood pressures were no different between the two groups. If the Tibetans had the same heart rate and the same blood pressure, but twice as much blood flow, what's their secret? And what's the benefit?
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Obviously, the altitude made the Tibetans blood flow significantly better. This is because of a much higher level of nitric oxide in their blood. In fact, the Tibetans had more than 10 times the amount of nitric oxide in their blood. This powerful compound causes arteries to dilate, allowing for more blood flow. The researchers said this level of nitric oxide is "unprecedented for healthy people." It may be unprecedented, but it's not bad. The Tibetans didn't suffer from any negative side effects. But they did have much better blood flow, which can have many positive effects.
We know that higher levels of nitric oxide help the circulatory system work more effectively, which is a huge benefit for your entire body. It can help you think clearer, sleep better, and have a better sex life.
To get this same effect, you can use one of these masks. They're now widely available in sporting goods stores and online. You'll need to where it while exercising. I think this is a great idea. However, you don't have to use the mask. You also can take CircO2, which is a supplement that naturally increases your nitric oxide levels. It works so effectively that it can help you avoid altitude sickness should you travel to the mountains. But it also can help your blood flow, your blood pressure, and your sex life.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.