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Improve your heart health with this bacteria-filled snack

by , 28 October 2014

It might seem strange that bacteria is beneficial for your heart health, but it's true.

Having healthy, happy bacteria in your gut is one way to protect yourself from chronic illness, say experts.

It's because your gut health isn't at its best, that's when the problems start. And it's one of the reasons the number of heart disease cases are on the rise.

Experts believe it's because of the association between your gut bacteria and blood pressure.

And while it's a very complex relationship - one that researchers are still trying to fully understand - it involves protein receptors found in your gut, heart and blood vessels.

Read on to find out what researchers suspect causes your blood pressure to increase when your gut health isn't in shape. And what you can do to change that…

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Gut bacteria play an important part in maintaining heart health

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University and Yale University recently discovered these protein receptors. What’s interesting about them is they’re “smell” receptors which they originally thought were only present in the nose. But now researchers found them to be in cells everywhere in your body.
Of particular interest was their presence in the gut, blood vessels and heart muscle.
The researchers found that the compound acetic acid formed when soluble fibre breaks down in the gut is what attaches to these receptors. And it’s the role beneficial bacteria have in this fermentation process that’s important. Researchers think it’s because they’re sensory receptors, i.e. involved in the sense of smell, it’s this that is how your body “senses” whether blood pressure must change once you eat.
Once fermentation produces acetic acid – which is a short chain fatty acid – it binds to the receptors and causes blood pressure to rise.
But they were baffled that this essential process within your gut puts your own heart at risk. So they had to find out why.
When they looked further, they found other, non-sensory types of protein receptors in the same places as these olfactory ones. These also specifically respond to the short chain fatty acids. But their effect is different: They lower blood pressure. And their effect is stronger. So overall, there’s a small drop in blood pressure after eating.
That means, if your beneficial bacteria isn’t working as it should, or you don’t have enough to aid in fermentation, there wouldn’t be control of blood pressure after meals.  
So the instability of your blood pressure would put you at risk of heart disease every time you decided to eat something!
Luckily, there’s an easy solution. And it involves keeping your gut bacteria happy and healthy.
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Increase the health of your gut to improve your heart health

One of the easiest ways to improve your gut health and the number of beneficial bacteria is to eat fermented foods.
Yoghurt is one of the easiest and most affordable ways to increase your gut bacteria. This is because manufacturers use live cultures to make it, so you eat them when you eat yoghurt!
Just make sure you’re not eating commercial yoghurt. Unfortunately, mass produced yoghurt manufacturers use pasteurised milk and the heating process kills off the bacteria.
Rather look for brands that have added cultures, or make your own yoghurt at home using unpasteurised raw milk.
You can also make other fermented foods like kefir, Kombucha or fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut) to increase your intake of probiotic cultures.
This way you’ll not only improve your gut health, but lower your risk of developing a multitude of chronic illnesses including heart disease

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