Bad gut bacteria put you at more risk for hardening your arteries (atherosclerosis) than smoking, cholesterol levels, obesity, or diabetes. Atherosclerosis is the leading cause of heart disease in the United States.
The root cause of heart disease and most health conditions today is inflammation. This includes arthritis, diabetes, obesity, dementia, depression, and inflammatory bowel disease. Heart disease is just part of the spectrum of inflammatory diseases.
So how do gut bacteria affect inflammation? An unhealthy microbiome — or your gut bacteria — promotes inflammation while good gut bacteria dampen it. Sadly, Americans have the worst gut microbiomes studied so far.
In fact, a recent study showed that women with atherosclerosis showed less gut bacteria diversity than women with healthy arteries, who had healthier gut bacteria.
Bad gut bacteria can lead to high blood pressure
There is more to high blood pressure than salt intake. High blood pressure, which increases your risk of heart disease and stroke, is also linked to the gut microbiome.
The key is propionate, a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) produced by healthy gut bacteria. SCFAs such as propionate and butyrate are key to brain and body health, with propionate being specific to the cardiovascular system.
How to grow a heart-healthy gut microbiome
Taking propionate won’t do much good if your gut bacteria is infectious and inflammatory — bad bacteria produce highly inflammatory compounds called lipopolysaccharide (LPS).
The key to a gut microbiome that promotes heart health is to eat about 25–30 grams of fiber a day. It's also key for that produce to be as diverse as possible; don't eat the same veggies over and over. Also, moderate your intake of fruit (fruits are high in sugar, which is inflammatory).
It’s the diversity of vegetables that matters most. Studies show a diverse gut microbiome is what lowers risk of disease.
Change up the vegetables you eat regularly and shop at different types of ethnic markets to try new types of produce. Even a teaspoon of different veggies each day is enough to help colonize the anti-inflammatory bacteria that will keep your heart healthy.
When you eat diverse plant fibers, supplementing with butyrate and propionate will help your gut bacteria their own SCFAs.
Also, make sure to stabilize your blood sugar stable by eliminating sugars, sweeteners, and processed carbohydrates. Avoid foods that cause an immune reaction in you (for example, gluten and dairy do for many people). Avoid toxin chemicals in your foods and body products that can kill good bacteria. Exercise daily, which positively influences your gut microbiome.
Ask my office for more advice on how to cultivate an optimal gut microbiome, detoxify bad bacteria, and support Hashimoto's low thyroid.
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