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Nitrates + Nitrites = Longevity Killer

Nitrates + Nitrites = Longevity Killer

Nitrates, commonly used as preservatives in processed meats and certain other foods, present several potential health risks:

  1. Formation of Nitrosamines: Nitrates can react with compounds in the stomach to form nitrosamines, which are known carcinogens. Regular consumption of foods containing nitrosamines has been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers, particularly colorectal cancer.

  2. Neurodegenerative Diseases: Excessive consumption of foods containing nitrates and nitrites has been linked to an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Additionally, nitrosamines have been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, potentially causing damage to brain cells and impairing cognitive function.

  3. Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: High intake of nitrates and nitrites has been associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, and hypertension. Nitrate consumption can lead to the production of nitric oxide, which may contribute to blood vessel dilation and increased blood flow, potentially impacting cardiovascular health. 
  4. Infant Methemoglobinemia: In infants, excessive intake of nitrates from contaminated water or formula can lead to a condition called methemoglobinemia, where the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood is reduced. This can result in symptoms such as shortness of breath, bluish discoloration of the skin, and fatigue.
  5. Digestive Issues: Some individuals may experience digestive issues such as abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea after consuming foods high in nitrates. These symptoms may be more pronounced in people with certain gastrointestinal conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  6. Interaction with Medications: Nitrates can interact with certain medications, particularly those used to treat erectile dysfunction (such as sildenafil, tadalafil, and vardenafil) and angina (such as nitroglycerin), leading to dangerously low blood pressure levels.


To protect brain health, it's important to take processed meats and foods high in added nitrates and nitrites out of your diet completely.  Instead, opt for whole, unprocessed foods and choose nitrate-free alternatives (or buy nothing at an all!)  A diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can also help support brain function and reduce the risk of neurological disorders associated with nitrate and nitrite exposure.



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