Have you heard of the endothelial glycocalyx? It might sound like a character from Star Wars, but this thing you’ve likely never heard of is actually one of the foundations of our heart health. More and more information has been coming out about this network of membranes that protects the vascular tissue. The endothelium is a single layer of cells that line several organs and cavities of the body, in particular the blood vessels and heart, separating the tissue from the surrounding blood. The glycocalyx is a slippery, thin gel-like layer of glycoproteins and glycolipids (sugars attached to proteins and fats) that surround the cell membranes of every artery, vein, and capillary in the body. It is essentially a protective layer over the endothelium and acts like a security guard, preventing cholesterol and other harmful substances from entering and sticking to the endothelial wall. The endothelial lining surrounds the walls of arteries and veins, separating the tissue from the blood. If influences many critical functions in the body, including regulating blood vessel contraction and relaxation, and the transport of various substances across the blood vessel wall. Circulation is fundamental to every organ and system in the body. Any molecule for exchange must move through the blood, pass through the glycocalyx layer, and cross through the endothelial barrier to reach its target tissue. The glycocalyx is a major contributor to endothelial function, blood vessel health, and cardiovascular health.

Keeping your blood vessels pliable and flexible is a major part of healthy aging, as youthful vessels can bend and are well dilated, while unhealthy blood vessels are stiffer, harder and less elastic–less likely to allow clots and cholesterol to pass through, instead permitting it to stick to the interior wall lining. This condition, called arteriosclerosis, limits blood flow to the rest of the body, including tissues and organs like the brain, intestines, kidneys and legs. Healthy blood helps oxygen to be delivered to all of our tissues, which is necessary to flush out toxins, create new cells, optimize our performance, nourish our brain and every organ, and to provide fuel to our cells. Less oxygenated tissue and stiffer arteries are risk factors for heart disease, heart attacks and strokes, and cancer–in addition to circulation problems like erectile dysfunction and Reynaud’s Syndrome.

That’s why we love the Designs for Health product that’s specially formulated to support the endothelial glycocalyx: Arterosil HP. It’s a blend of a rare seaweed and phytonutrient-rich fruit and vegetable extracts. It provides a novel approach in supporting the structure and normal functions of the endothelial glycocalyx. This formula is ideal for people who are looking to support their vascular health and healthy aging, as it has been shown to support the health of artery walls.