Is a healthy gut connected to a healthy heart? Your gut plays a crucial role in your digestive system. It can impact heartburn and acid reflux. But did you know that there’s a significant connection between your gut and your heart? The theory isn’t new, but it certainly is essential.
Heart Disease in Adults
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women worldwide. In the United States, nearly one million people suffer a heart attack each year, according to the CDC. But heart attacks aren’t the only symptom of heart disease. Often, they’re the last presenting symptom.
Many different conditions can affect heart health. There’s Atrial fibrillation, a common heart arrhythmia, and there’s cardiomyopathy, a condition where heart tissue becomes abnormal. Then there are issues such as hypertension and high cholesterol, which all put an individual at risk for premature death if they are not adequately treated.
The Gut-Heart Connection
So how does a healthy gut relate to a healthy heart? It seems like all these heart conditions are related to the chest, not our gut at all. It turns out that they are more intertwined than you may think. Our guts are home to trillions of tiny bacteria that make up what’s known as the gut microbe.
The Role of Our Gut Microbe
While the majority of our gut microbe is in our intestines, they affect almost all other systems in our body. Our nervous system, our vascular system, our immune system, and so on. All of these systems relate to heart health.
An interesting finding is that our gut microbe collects levels of something called trimethylamine (TMA) when the bacteria in our intestines consume a nutrient called choline. Once that TMA gets to the liver, it’s converted to another variation, known as TMAO. High levels of TMAO have been strongly correlated with the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
When arteries become hardened with plaque, they become constricted, making it more difficult for blood to flow through them to the heart. This is a leading cause of heart attacks.
Choline is often found in foods such as red meat, eggs, and pasta. It’s believed that a diet centered too heavily around these foods may contribute to the development of heart disease due to the way our guts process them.
Prebiotics and Probiotics for Healthy Blood Pressure
On a positive note, studies have shown that prebiotics and probiotics may have a healthy impact on lowering blood pressure. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is another predecessor to heart attacks.
To reap the maximum potential benefits of lowering blood pressure through gut health, consume foods that are high in fiber along with foods such as garlic, onions, asparagus, and sweet potatoes.
Healthy Gut, Healthy Heart
You know the saying, you are what you eat. What you put into your gut, and the health of your gut microbe, significantly affect the rest of your body. Your heart included. Protecting gut health may be the route to a healthier heart, and it may be one you hadn’t thought of before.
For more information on gut health and all the essential roles it plays, read more here.