Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and it’s important to take measures to reduce the risk of developing it. A healthy diet and regular exercise are two well-known ways to prevent heart disease, but did you know that probiotics can also play a role in heart health? In this blog post, we’ll explore the role of probiotics in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and how they can improve overall heart health.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are beneficial to the human body, especially to the digestive system. They’re commonly found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Probiotics can also be taken as supplements in the form of capsules, powders, or liquids.
Probiotics work by restoring the natural balance of bacteria in the gut. When the gut microbiome is healthy, it helps to digest food, absorb nutrients, and keep harmful bacteria at bay. Studies have also shown that probiotics can boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve mental health.
Probiotics and Heart Health
Recent studies have shown that probiotics can also improve heart health. In a 2019 meta-analysis of 35 randomized controlled trials, researchers found that probiotics can significantly reduce total cholesterol, LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and blood pressure. High levels of LDL cholesterol and blood pressure are risk factors for heart disease.
One theory is that probiotics reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the gut. This is because certain strains of probiotics can break down bile acids, which are made from cholesterol in the liver. When bile acids are broken down, the liver needs to make more cholesterol to replace them. This, in turn, lowers the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
Probiotics have also been shown to reduce inflammation, which is a key factor in the development of heart disease. Inflammation can damage blood vessels and increase the risk of plaque buildup, which can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Which Probiotics are Best for Heart Health?
There are many different strains of probiotics, and each has a unique set of benefits. When it comes to heart health, some strains have been shown to be more effective than others.
Lactobacillus reuteri: This strain has been shown to significantly reduce LDL cholesterol levels in several studies. It works by breaking down bile acids in the gut, which lowers cholesterol levels in the bloodstream.
Lactobacillus plantarum: This strain has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve blood pressure in several studies. It also has antioxidant properties, which can help protect against heart disease.
Bifidobacterium lactis: This strain has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control in several studies. It may also reduce inflammation and improve gut health.
How to Incorporate Probiotics into Your Diet
If you’re interested in incorporating probiotics into your diet, there are several ways to do so. The most common way is to eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Make sure to choose products that contain live and active cultures.
Another option is to take a probiotic supplement. Probiotic supplements come in many different forms, including capsules, powders, and liquids. Look for products that contain strains that have been shown to improve heart health, like Lactobacillus reuteri, Lactobacillus plantarum, and Bifidobacterium lactis.
It’s important to note that not all probiotic supplements are created equal. Look for
products that have been tested by third-party organizations to ensure their quality and efficacy. It’s also important to follow the instructions on the label and talk to your healthcare provider before starting any new supplements.
Other Ways to Improve Heart Health
While probiotics can be helpful in reducing the risk of heart disease, they’re not a replacement for a healthy lifestyle. Here are some other ways to improve heart health:
- Eat a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
- Exercise regularly. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Don’t smoke or use tobacco products.
- Limit alcohol intake.
- Manage stress through meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques.
Probiotics have been shown to improve heart health by reducing LDL cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation. While more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between probiotics and heart disease, incorporating probiotics into your diet can be a helpful way to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. As always, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or supplement routine. With a combination of healthy lifestyle habits and probiotic supplementation, you can take steps towards a healthier heart and a healthier life.