There are many microorganisms or microbiota living in our gastrointestinal tract. These microbiota help with digestion, and interact with each other to influence our immune system and our health, including our cardiovascular system. The types of microorganisms that inhabit your gut may be determined by the food you eat. People who eat a diet low in saturated fats and high in fruits and vegetables tend to have more intestinal bacteria than people whose diets include more red meat, sugars and refined carbohydrates.
Why does this matter? Current research indicates gut microbiota may be able to influence the cardiovascular system by reducing inflammation and metabolizing specific chemicals that reduce the formation of plaque as well as the amount of cholesterol and other fats in the bloodstream. All of these processes may be interrelated. For example, the buildup of plaque in your blood vessels may cause an inflammatory response, which may increase your risk of narrowed arteries. By reducing inflammation as well as specific chemicals that form plaque, and lower cholesterol and fat levels in your body, you decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease.
You have the power to choose your diet and, therefore, the type of microorganisms that inhabit your gut. Follow these tips for healthy eating:
- Eat fresh, frozen or canned fruit and vegetables
- Eat fish twice a week
- Eat nuts and legumes
- Limit portions of red meat, and choose the leanest cuts possible
Research supports the conclusion that there is an interaction between gut microbiota and cardiovascular diseases. Remember, the type of microbiota that inhabit your gut may affect your future health!
- Read the Harvard Health article called Gut Reaction: How Bacteria in Your Belly May Affect Your Heart
- Read a review article on the Contributory Role of Gut Microbiota in Cardiovascular Disease
- Learn 5 Tips to Improve Cardiovascular Health
- Subscribe to the Living with Heart Disease Patient Blog