Did you know you have a pharmacy inside of your own body? And did you know that your body can produce medicine in the exact dose, for the exact illness, at the exact time that you need it, and it’s open 24 hours a day with no waiting? Well, that’s the way our bodies were designed to work at least. Unfortunately, we have ignored our bodies trying to speak to us for so long that most of our internal pharmacies are closed. How does this work? The lining of healthy blood vessels is like a smooth highway over which the traffic of the blood passes. This lining contains metabolically active cells that function like microscopic medicine bottles, releasing hormones and other substances to help maintain the blood vessels’ health. The hormones act like chemical messengers, telling the arteries and other organs and tissues to behave in a healthful way. Your internal pharmacy (the endothelium) dispenses dozens of medicines that regulate blood flow and blood pressure, blood clotting, cholesterol, inflammation and growth and repair of blood vessels. Dr. Lou Ignarro shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1998 for his discovery of how healthy endothelium releases nitric oxide (NO) in just the right amount to regulate blood flow to tissues. The release of NO by the endothelium may be the body’s own healthy-aging system. So, how can you tap into your own personal pharmacy? Two habits influence whether these internal medicine bottles open and dispense the right medicine at the right dose at the right time: how you eat and how you move. By eating a predominantly whole food diet and eliminating processed foods, excess sugary foods and junk food in general, you can reduce the amount of “sticky stuff” as Dr. Sears likes to refer to it, from your bloodstream. This keeps the plaque from building up in the first place. When you exercise, blood flows fast across the surface endothelium and causes what is known as a shear force (frictional force). The cells lining the endothelium sense this extra blood flow and squirt out extra NO which dilates the arteries, optimizes blood pressure and delivers more blood flow and nutrients to the organs downstream. All it takes is taking one step at a time. You can change your habits to include eating more whole foods and less junk food, and start exercising. Start where you are and take one step forward to a healthier you!