The Link Between Your Gut and Vascular Health
In the scientific community, there has been a lot of talk about the gut. Recently, a variety of discoveries have been made about how the bacteria found in your gut can have a large effect on your health. For example, recent studies show that gut bacteria may influence your mood, and even prevent depression. Gut bacteria may also predict one’s susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis, protect from cancer, and improve the immune system.
But that’s not all your gut can do…additional research shows that bacteria may also play a large role in cardiovascular health, specifically the link between age and an increased risk for certain conditions.
Scientists Study Gut Bacteria in Mice
To better understand how gut bacteria can influence the cardiovascular system’s aging process, Vienna Brunt, a researcher at the Department of Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, focused on a group of lab mice. Brunt and her team studied two sets of mice: a younger group and an older group. These mice were given a mixture of antibiotics through their drinking water that would stop bacterial growth.
After three to four weeks of drinking this formula, the subjects’ cardiovascular health was examined. Scientists did this by measuring their arterial stiffness, which is known to increase with age and can lead to poor blood flow. They also studied the rodents’ endothelium, or cell lining inside the arteries, and checked blood samples for any signs of inflammation or oxidative stress, which could contribute to hypertension, heart disease, and general aging.
Experiment Finds Link Between Age and Gut Bacteria
At the end of the study, scientists discovered that the antibiotics had a great impact on the older mice, and hardly any effect at all on the younger group. The reason the antibiotics had such an effect on the old group only, is because of what was already in their gut. The study found higher levels of proteobacteria, a class of bacteria containing pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter. The older mice also had three times as much TMAO in their blood – a compound commonly linked to a higher risk of stroke and heart attack.
How to Promote a Healthy Gut
This study has put researchers one step closer to understanding why the risk for developing certain diseases increases with age. Since the aging process creates an imbalance of healthy microbes in the gut, it is important to consume plenty of probiotics. These can include yogurt, kimchi, kefir, vegetables, and fiber-rich foods such as nuts, fruits, wholegrains, and pulses. It is also important to limit processed foods because they can limit your good and even increase your bad bacteria. Antibiotics can also have a negative effect on your gut bacteria and should only be taken if absolutely necessary.
If scientists develop a way to target and suppress only harmful bacteria without antibiotics, it would not only help prevent cardiovascular-related diseases for seniors, but it would change healthcare. For more heart-healthy tips or information about preventing CVD, visit our website today.