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The link between the Gut and The Heart


Think your gut health only affects your immune system? Turns out it has a large impact on cardiovascular health, too. New research has found some cardiac conditions can be linked to our gut microbiome. And new studies continue to find that having a healthy gut can help lead to a healthy heart.

 Artery hardening

The idea that a healthy gut microbiome can impact cardiovascular health is nothing new, but a recent study is the first to link poor gut diversity to arterial hardening in women.

Artery hardening happens at different rates as we age. It’s a well-known risk for cardiovascular disease. The researchers at the University of Nottingham and King’s College London published their study findings about gut health and its link to cardiovascular health. The results suggest that diet and probiotics could be pathways to reduce the risks of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers looked at data from 617 middle-aged female twins. They found that the measure of artery stiffness was higher in women with a lower diversity of healthy gut bacteria. 

A lack of diversity in healthy bacteria in the gut has also been associated with diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory stomach and bowel diseases.

 Coronary artery disease

Gut health also has a role in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACVD), where plaque builds up in arteries. A 2017 study in Nature looked at stool samples from 218 participants with ACVD and compared them to 187 healthy participants.
They found the gut microbiome of those with ACVD differed vastly compared to healthy people without the disease, indicating there may be a link between the two.

Heart attack and stroke

Gut health may also help indicate if a person is at risk for serious cardiovascular events, like a heart attack or stroke. A cardiologist from New York, notes that a certain gut bacteria can convert dietary choline from eggs and red meat into a damaging substance called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). This substance can damage blood vessels, and researchers have found a strong link between TMAO and ACVD, which can lead to vascular events.

 This is why so many doctors recommend a low-fat diet and less red meat for optimal heart health.

 Should we take a probiotic?

Knowing that better gut diversity could improve cardiac health, is taking a probiotic supplement enough to stop artery hardening, heart disease, and cardiovascular events? Looking at the research it seems like a sensible idea however, even if probiotics do not affect diversity, they have been shown in many clinical studies to reduce levels of cholesterol which is related to heart disease. Its a win win!

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