Vascular endothelial cells line the entire circulatory system, from the heart to the smallest capillaries.
The endothelium is the inner layer of the blood vessels and is extremely important.
When the endothelium is functioning normally, it helps to regulate blood clotting, assists the body’s immune response, controls the volume of fluid and the amount of electrolytes and other substances that pass from the blood into the tissues, and produces dilation or constriction of the blood vessels.
The endothelium is directly involved in peripheral vascular disease, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, chronic kidney failure, tumor growth, metastasis, venous thrombosis, and severe viral infectious diseases (Rajendran P, et.al., 2013).
Free radicals can disrupt the balance of NO (Nitric Oxide), damage the endothelium, and leave it overly permeable, allowing toxins to pass into body tissues (Rubanyi GM, Vanhoutte PM. et.al., 1986).
How can you keep the endothelium healthy?
A high nutrient, low glycemic index plant based diet will go a long way. In addition to that you can eat some blueberries.
In this double blind crossover study the researchers gave the participants blueberry flavonoids and measured flow-mediated dilation (Rodriguez-Mateos A, et.al., 2013).
They found a significant increase in flow-mediated dilation at 1-2 and 6 h after consumption of the blueberry polyphenols.
The researchers concluded that blueberry intake acutely improves vascular function in healthy men.
You can also drink green tea.
Low-mediated dilation significantly improved after drinking green tea, and has a beneficial effect on endothelial function (Alexopoulos N, et.al., 2008).
Alexopoulos N1, Vlachopoulos C, Aznaouridis K, Baou K, Vasiliadou C, Pietri P, Xaplanteris P, Stefanadi E, Stefanadis C.The acute effect of green tea consumption on endothelial function in healthy individuals. Eur J Cardiovasc Prev Rehabil. 2008 Jun;15(3):300-5.
Rajendran P, Rengarajan T, Thangavel J, Nishigaki Y, Sakthisekaran D, Sethi G, Nishigaki I.The vascular endothelium and human diseases. Int J Biol Sci. 2013 Nov 9;9(10):1057-69.
Rodriguez-Mateos A1, Rendeiro C, Bergillos-Meca T, Tabatabaee S, George TW, Heiss C, Spencer JP.Intake and time dependence of blueberry flavonoid-induced improvements in vascular function: a randomized, controlled, double-blind, crossover intervention study with mechanistic insights into biological activity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013 Nov;98(5):1179-91.
Rubanyi GM, Vanhoutte PM. Superoxide anions and hyperoxia inactivate endothelium-derived relaxing factor.Am J Physiol. 1986 May;250(5 Pt 2):H822-7.
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