The Path to a Healthy Heart Starts in Your Gut
February is national heart health month! It’s a good time to learn more about how your heart functions, how to keep it healthy and even the role your gut plays to that end.
Heart diseases have been on the rise in the United States the last few years and it’s incredibly important to stop the heartbreak surrounding these terrible diseases. A sick heart doesn’t just affect you, it also affects your loved ones when they see you struggling.
Recent research is suggesting that there may be a way to improve your heart health through gut microbiota modulation. Read on to find out more about how you can make better food choices to keep your heart pumping as long and as strong as it possibly can!
The Gut-Heart Axis — How Your Gut Affects Your Heart
More and more research is coming out connecting the gut to other body parts/organs. We’ve talked about the gut-brain axis in the past. Now we are here to shed light on a fairly new axis that has been recognized — the gut-heart axis.
Your gut is able to communicate with your organs and body systems. When your food is broken down by your gut microbes, it allows for your body to extract all the vital nutrients and other byproducts the food has to offer you.
These metabolic byproducts — or metabolites — are then recirculated throughout your body to carry out the tasks they’re made for. Some metabolites are good for you like antioxidants. Others are damaging to your health like trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). We have an article that goes into detail on TMAO and heart health here.
This isn’t the only way the gut can affect your heart. If you have a leaky gut, it can cause systemic inflammation. This happens when your intestinal barrier is more permeable than it should be.
The bacteria that should remain in your gut to break down foods are set free from your intestinal tract and it goes where it shouldn’t be. Your body finds it to be an “invader” and tries to fight the bacteria since it’s in a foreign area.
This turns on the immune system and ignites your inflammatory response. When your body is in an inflammatory state for extended periods of time it does damage to different organ systems leading to diseases.
Certain metabolites have more effects on certain organs — the rest of this article will focus on those that affect the heart.
Gastrointestinal Disorders and Heart Problem Correlations
There is a strong correlation between bacterial diversity and the health of the heart. Multiple studies have been done and it’s always found — much like other diseases — that people with low bacterial diversity are more likely to have heart problems.
On the contrary, people with higher microbial diversities tend to have less health problems. Modulating the gut microbe balance has been proven to help prevent the progression of certain diseases and sometimes even reverse them.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
The trigger of SIBO is different from person to person. However, people who suffer from SIBO often tend to be at a higher predisposition for other diseases.
A study that ran from 2006-2014 studied coronary artery disease (CAD) patients and tested to see how many also suffered from SIBO. The SIBO-positive patients had significantly worse CAD symptoms than those who were SIBO-negative.
SIBO patients in this study also had a higher prevalence of diabetes mellitus and kidney disease.
Another study found that patients with SIBO are also at an increased risk of experiencing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD is probably one of the strongest links between GI disorders and heart complications. IBD doesn’t show any of the common predispositions that you typically expect of a person with CAD or heart failure.
However, IBD patients still have a higher chance of experiencing hardened arteries and associated cardiovascular issues.
Arterial aging was assumed to be a normal process of getting older. This has been found to be untrue. An animal study was done and proved that arterial stiffness can be reversed by altering the gut microbiome.
How to Improve Heart Problems Through Gut Microbiota Modulation
So there are some obvious relationships between gut health and heart health which isn’t really a huge surprise. Your whole body is intricately connected with everything working symbiotically to keep you alive.
Actually, this is proven in the fact that the same bacteria in your gut can be found in your mouth and these are the same bacteria that cause the plaques in your arteries.
When you learn things like this, it’s easier to see how just changing your diet can really, drastically affect everything throughout your body.
So here are some ways that you can change your gut microbiome diversity to help improve your heart health.
We say it all the time, but really, get your fiber intake up! Fiber offers you so many awesome benefits. Short-chain fatty acids being one of the biggest ones. Short-chain fatty acids are able to reduce blood pressure in addition to balancing lipid and glucose levels.
Prebiotics and Polyphenols
(Probiotics are sometimes suggested, but they haven’t been completely proven to help or what specific strains are helpful so we won’t be including them in this article.)
However, prebiotics and polyphenols (which Atrantil happens to be) have been proven through several different studies. Eating whole plant foods like whole grains, fruits, and veggies with the skins will deliver tons of prebiotics and polyphenols.
Some of the benefits these plant byproducts will offer your heart include:
- Improved oxidative stress levels
- Cholesterol and triglyceride reduction
- Cardiovascular protection
- Reduced blood glucose levels
- Improved microbial richness
Exercise is sort of an obvious one for heart health but may not be so obvious for gut health. Getting on a good and regular exercise routine can help to improve the microbial balance in your gut, reduce weight, and improve the strength of your heart.
Bovine Colostrum-Derived Anti-LPS Compounds
This helped to reduce damages done by metabolic syndrome in both animal and human studies. Some of the improvements seen included:
- Improved insulin resistance
- Improved lipid levels
- Helped liver damage
Take care of your mouth too. Make sure you’re brushing your teeth so you don’t get plaque buildup that can be linked to cardiovascular diseases and gut microbiome disturbances.
What ways do you take care of your heart? Have you found certain foods help improve your heart health? If so, drop them in the comments below! :)