The Gut-Heart Connection
Did you know that the tissues in our gut contain seventy percent of the body’s inflammatory cells?
Research is progressively exploring connections between the gut microbiome and cardiovascular disease.
The bacteria that live in our gut can have many different effects on the body and can impact our cardiovascular health.
This article evaluates how lifestyle factors and a diet higher in plants and lower in animal products may decrease heart disease risk due to the reduction in certain metabolites produced by the gut microbiome.
Exploring heart disease prevention.
A growing body of research suggests that the wrong balance of gut bacteria can cause harm beyond your gut, playing a role in conditions as different as arthritis, obesity, and depression.
Studies published in March 2020 in the journal Microbiome suggest that an imbalance in gut bacteria can also affect your blood vessels. In fact, chemicals or processes related to gut bacteria have been linked to a higher risk of heart failure, atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in arteries), and major cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.
This is supported by a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, by focusing on diets and how they can decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease researchers found that following a diet rich in plants can decrease the risk of heart disease by reducing levels of a molecule called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO).
TMAO is produced when the gut microbiota digests certain nutrients found in red meats and is one of the molecules that creates the atheromatous plaques in our blood, this can lead to an increased risk of cardiac conditions, such as a heart attack.
Overall, this study shows that adapting to a diet that is rich in plant-based foods may decrease cardiovascular disease risk by influencing the type of metabolites produced by the gut microbiome which, therefore, reduces atherogenic molecules.
While many factors can influence cardiovascular risk, such as age, lifestyle and other health indicators, these results should motivate us to favour an all-round adoption of healthy eating patterns.
How to reduce the risk of cardiac disease
Other factors that can lead to an unhealthy microbiome include: processed foods, excess sugar, refined carbohydrates, and excess fat in your diet.
It is well known that alcohol can also upset the gut balance, so it’s better to consume alcohol in moderation, if at all.
Stress can be another key factor in an unhealthy balance of gut bacteria. Colonic HydrotherapistJane Haines recommends reducing stress whenever possible, via activities like exercise, and mindfulness exercises such as meditation.
Whether you currently have heart disease or may be at risk for it, understanding the role of the gut microbiome in human health is critical.
What are the heart disease risk factors that I cannot change?
Age: Your risk of heart disease increases as you get older. Research shows that men age 45 and older and women age 55 and older are more at risk.
Sex: Certain factors may affect heart disease risk differently in women than in men. For example, estrogen gives women some protection against heart disease. However, diabetes is shown to raise the risk of heart disease in women more than in men.
Family history: You are at a higher risk if you have a close family member who had heart disease at an early age.
Race or ethnicity: Certain groups have higher risks than others. African Americans are more likely to have heart disease than white individuals, while Hispanics are less likely to have be at risk. Several Asian groups, have lower rates of risk also.