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Could Your Gut Impact Your Blood Pressure?

Evidence is mounting that the microorganisms residing in your gut could help determine whether or not you develop hypertension.1 Researchers have discovered that a specialized receptor, normally found in the nose, is also in the blood vessels throughout the body, sensing small molecules created by your gut microbes. These receptors respond to these gut molecules by increasing blood pressure.2

How Does your Gut Influence your Blood Pressure?

Friendly bacteria in the gut are important in maintaining intestinal and metabolic health.  Diets that are missing soluble fiber promote inflammation in the intestines, thinning of the intestinal wall, and poor gut health. This contributes to weight gain.3 Rodent studies show that drugs, like antibiotics, can wipe out friendly gut bacteria and can cause obesity by reducing the resting metabolic rate — the calories burned while sleeping or resting.4 Obesity is a major risk factor for high blood pressure.

Dietary Fiber Reduces your Risk for Hypertension!

Consumption of foods rich in soluble fiber helps to replenish friendly bacteria and discourages the proliferation of harmful bacteria which promotes obesity, diabetes, and inflammation. Research has discovered that plant-based diets, emphasizing foods higher in protein, oil, and fiber, reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.5 Dietary fiber, especially soluble fiber, helps to lower elevated blood pressure. It is more than just fiber though. Phytochemicals are non-nutrient compounds in foods that protect health. Phytochemicals and their byproducts stimulate the proliferation of friendly bacteria that preserve health while decreasing the population of harmful, disease-promoting bacteria in the gut.6

The portfolio diet has foods that are scientifically-proven to lower cholesterol. The portfolio diet includes mixed nuts, soy protein, plant sterols (found in vegetable oils and leafy vegetables) and viscous fiber (found in oats, barley, and eggplant). The DASH diet emphasizes fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, reduced meat and dairy intake, and eliminating snack food. Compared to the popular DASH diet, the portfolio diet lowered blood pressure by an average two percent. The modest, two percent reduction in blood pressure on the portfolio diet is in addition to the five to ten millimeter blood pressure improvement associated with a DASH-type diet.7 Thirty-two studies have shown that eating a vegetarian diet is linked to lower average systolic and diastolic blood pressure, compared to omnivorous diets.8

Help your Gut, Lower your Blood Pressure

  1. Skip the refined grains. Increase your intake of whole-grain cereals. Whole grain wheat increases the number of bifidobacteria, which are considered beneficial for human health. Whole wheat has no harmful effects on the permeability of the intestines unless one has celiac disease, a wheat allergy, or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. 9
  2. Replenish and repopulate your gut bacteria. Antibiotics, proton pump inhibitors, and non-steriod anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) detrimentally change and decrease the diversity of your gut bacteria.10
  3. Eat enough omega-3 fats. These fats play an important role in shaping the gut bacteria distribution especially in childhood and adolescence. Since the fatty tissues of fish accumulate heavy metals, pollutants, and the pesticides found in the ocean, we think that chia, flaxseed, walnuts, and greens are the preferred way to get omega-3 fats.11
  4. Get enough vitamin D. A deficiency in vitamin D changes the intestinal microbiome, reducing B vitamin production in the gut. This encourages inflammation which has been linked to atherosclerosis.12 A high fat diet coupled with a vitamin D deficiency causes metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is characterized by elevated blood sugar, hypertension, obesity, and inflammation. Rodent studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation helps to improve gut bacteria and reverse the metabolic syndrome.13  If you take medication, check with your pharmacist  before using any supplement.
  5.  Get enough sleep. Even in healthy men, curtailing sleep increases the abundance of bacterial gut species that have previously been linked to obesity and diabetes.14

© 2018 – 2019, Wildwood Sanitarium. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.

Sources

  1. Adnan S. Alterations in the gut microbiota can elicit hypertension in rats. Physiological Genomics>, 2016; physiolgenomics.00081.2016 DOI: 10.1152/physiolgenomics.00081.2016
  2. Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Blood vessels ‘sniff’ gut microbes to regulate blood pressure.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2013. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130226113431.htm
  3. American Physiological Society (APS). “Diet lacking soluble fiber promotes weight gain, mouse study suggests.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 October 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151030111740.htm
  4. University of Iowa Health Care. “Altered microbiome burns fewer calories: Study links changes in gut bacteria to lower resting metabolic rate, weight gain in mice.” ScienceDaily, 14 December 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151214130811.htm
  5. St. Michael’s Hospital. “Cholesterol-lowering ‘portfolio diet’ also reduces blood pressure: Diet has already impacted guidelines in Canada and Europe.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151107074737.htm
  6. Sahoo A. and Soren N. Phytochemicals and Gut Microbial Populations in Non-ruminants. Chapter 13. Dietary Phytochemicals and Microbes. pp 371-389. Date: 18 February 2012
  7. St. Michael’s Hospital. “Cholesterol-lowering ‘portfolio diet’ also reduces blood pressure: Diet has already impacted guidelines in Canada and Europe.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2015. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151107074737.htm
  8. Yokoyama Y. Vegetarian Diets and Blood Pressure. JAMA Internal Medicine, 2014; DOI: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.14547
  9. Technical University of Denmark (DTU). “Gut microbiota affects intestinal integrity.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2014. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812121924.htm
  10. youris.com. “Do microbes control our mood?” ScienceDaily, 20 October 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161020114611.htm
  11. Robertson RC. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids critically regulate behaviour and gut microbiota development in adolescence and adulthood. Brain Behav Immun. 2017 Jan; 59:21-37
  12. Gominak SC. Vitamin D deficiency changes the intestinal microbiome reducing B vitamin production in the gut. The resulting lack of pantothenic acid adversely affects the immune system, producing a “pro-inflammatory” state associated with atherosclerosis and autoimmunity. 2016 Sep;94:103-7
  13. Frontiers. “Vitamin D improves gut flora and metabolic syndrome: Extra vitamin D can restore good bacteria in the gut, according to a study in mice, giving hope in the fight against risk factors for diabetes and heart disease.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 December 2016. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161221125439.htm
  14. Christian Benedict C. Gut Microbiota and Glucometabolic Alterations in Response to Recurrent Partial Sleep Deprivation in Normal-weight Young Individuals. Molecular >Metabolism>, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.molmet.2016.10.003

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