During American Heart Month, it’s essential to recognize that heart health extends beyond the cardiovascular system. The unique connection between gut and heart health is gaining visibility in the realm of health and wellness. The trillions of microorganisms residing in the digestive tract play a pivotal role in influencing inflammation, metabolism, and even the risk of heart disease. Understanding and nurturing this gut-heart connection can significantly impact overall well-being.
The microbes in your gut are composed of good and bad bacteria. The good bacteria aid in digestion and protect against harmful environmental factors. Conversely, an imbalance between good and bad bacteria can lead to damage in the body, leaving you more susceptible to infections and impacting heart health.
Bad Bacteria’s Impact on Your Heart
Recent research indicates that changes in gut flora can increase the risks of cardiovascular events such as hypertension, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure. The gut, comprising the gastrointestinal tract including the stomach, intestines, and colon, is directly linked to inflammation, which can have negative health effects. An astounding 70% of the body’s inflammatory cells reside in the gut. Bad gut bacteria, circulating in the bloodstream, release harmful chemicals, causing plaque buildup in arteries—a process known as atherosclerosis. Unchecked atherosclerosis can lead to the total closure of arteries and blood vessels, resulting in heart attacks, aneurysms, blood clots, and strokes.
Improving Good Bacteria: Following Your Gut and Trusting Your Heart:
You can enhance your gut and heart health with small changes to your diet and lifestyle. Certain foods contribute to the health of good bacteria in the gut, influencing their ability to metabolize food effectively and ensure your body receives the right nutrients for overall health. Products like Probiotic FastMelt®, Synbiotic Ultra™, and Harmony are excellent ways to introduce good bacteria to your gut.
Fiber is Your Friend
It’s crucial to include both soluble and insoluble fiber in your diet. Soluble fiber nourishes the gut microbiome, while insoluble fiber acts as the “cleaning system” for your heart, helping to clear out waste in your gut. Sources of fiber include apples, oats, and avocados. Benefits include reducing cholesterol, promoting a healthy weight, preventing constipation, and managing blood sugar.
Eat the Color of the Rainbow
Fruits and vegetables, rich in color, should be a substantial part of your diet. A recent research study found that individuals genetically predisposed to heart disease can reduce their risks by consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
Don’t Stress the Small Stuff
Stress can alter the diversity and composition of good bacteria in your gut. External pressures can impact heart health by increasing inflammation, leading to risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and increased cholesterol. Manage stress through various tips and techniques.
Increase Those Omegas
Omega-3 fatty acids not only improve heart health but also show promise in enhancing the diversity of good bacteria in the gut. Good sources include fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts, and beans.
Get a Good Night’s Rest
Sleep plays a key role in physical health. Insufficient or fragmented sleep can contribute to problems with blood pressure and heighten the risk of heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes, and stroke, as well as an increase in inflammation, imbalance of the gut microbiome, and a slowed metabolism.
Probiotics Are Good for Your Gut
Linked to heart health, probiotics found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut contribute to lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol levels. Supplementation can also be an excellent way to introduce additional good bacteria to your gut.
This American Heart Month let’s embrace the intimate connection between the gut and the heart. By making conscious choices in our diet and lifestyle, we can nurture both aspects of our health and lay the foundation for a healthier, happier life. During the month of February, how will you honor your heart and trust your gut?
1. R, D., et al. (2011). The Effect of Chromosome 9p21 Variants on Cardiovascular Disease May Be Modified by Dietary Intake: Evidence from a Case/Control and a Prospective Study. PLoS Medicine, 8(10), e1001106. [Link](https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001106)
2. Costantini, L., Molinari, R., Farinon, B., & Merendino, N. (2017). Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on the Gut Microbiota. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 18(12), 2645. [DOI: 10.3390/ijms18122645](https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms18122645)
3. Wang, Z., Klipfell, E., Bennett, B. J., Koeth, R., Levison, B. S., Dugar, B., … Hazen, S. L. (2011). Gut flora metabolism of phosphatidylcholine promotes cardiovascular disease. Nature, 472, 57–63.
Lauren Horton, PhD.
Dr. Lauren Horton is passionate about moving patient care forward through research. As a Division Research Director, she is at the forefront of groundbreaking studies and innovation. Her dedication to advancing knowledge and solving complex problems has led to her pivotal role in shaping the future of patient care in the healthcare industry.
Dr. Horton leverages her deep insights and knack for communicating complex ideas in an accessible way to educate and engage a global audience. In her spare time, she is an avid advocate for health and wellness, dedicated to making a positive impact on the world. She believes that knowledge is a powerful tool for change and strives to empower others with the information and inspiration needed to effect meaningful transformation.
Dr. Horton loves to help improve the quality of life of those around her. She has helped men and women from all over the country discover how small steps each day can lead to huge strides towards living a healthier lifestyle.
Dr. Horton holds a BS in biology from Rust College, a MS in health economics and outcomes research from Xavier University and a PhD in biomedical science from Morehouse School of Medicine and completed her post-doctoral studies at the University of Pennsylvania.