Beyond the wonderful benefits probiotics have on your gut, research has continued to identify more potential good these microorganisms can do. The right bacteria can boost immune health, brain health, and can even benefit your heart.
Recent studies have found that probiotics can influence your blood pressure and therefore boost heart health too. Here is what you should know.
A Hypertension Refresher
High blood pressure is a major health problem in the United States, affecting millions each year. High blood pressure, or hypertension, can damage your arteries and, if left untreated, leads to heart attack and stroke. For the most part, high blood pressure does not show any signs or symptoms, but you can identify it with regular checkups at the doctor.
There is no one specific cause for high blood pressure, but there are a number of factors that increase your risk, including:
♦ Inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle
♦ Excessive alcohol consumption
♦ Poor diet (especially one that is high in salt)
If you are at greater risk for developing high blood pressure, you should meet with your doctor regularly to monitor it closely. As dangerous as high blood pressure can be, it can also be controlled.
A New Approach to an Old Problem
Using probiotic supplements as well as foods containing probiotics such as yogurt, fermented milk products, and rose hip drinks, individuals had their blood pressure monitored before and after.
Overall, there was a drop in blood pressure levels for all individuals who had received probiotics. Larger reductions were noticed among those who started with elevated blood pressure levels as compared to those who were healthy.
With high blood pressure being a major contributing factor to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and cardiovascular disease it is important to maintain healthy levels. Probiotics are a new approach to controlling blood pressure that seems to be working so far.
It is thought that probiotics help by way of maintaining optimal gut health. Because your immune system is influenced by the health of your gut, these tiny creatures hold substantial weight.
Poor diet can cause changes in your gut environment by supplying the wrong bacteria. Diets high in sugar and fats allow harmful strains in your gut to flourish and they can outnumber the beneficial ones that keep you healthy.
One consequence to an unbalanced and unhealthy gut is inflammation, and this can spread far beyond the gut and has been linked to elevated blood pressure. Probiotics help maintain balance in the gut, reduce inflammation, and thereby can help with blood pressure.
Lower Blood Pressure Naturally
Probiotics are mainly beneficial to your gut, but their benefits also reach outside the intestinal walls. In addition to adding probiotics to your diet, there are several other food options you can try to control blood pressure and prevent hypertension.
Leafy greens are full of potassium, which helps your kidneys to process and expel more sodium. Less sodium in the bloodstream means lower blood pressure.
Berries of any kind are full of powerful antioxidant compounds known as flavonoids. Eaten frozen or fresh, all berries help to protect your blood vessels from oxidative damage and lower blood pressure.
Oatmeal is one of the most heart-healthy ways to start your day. Oats are high in fiber and low in both fat and sodium which keeps blood pressure low and your heart stronger than ever.
Bananas also contain potassium, which keeps the levels of sodium in your blood low. Because of the bioavailability of the potassium in bananas, it is better to eat these each day over taking a potassium supplement.
Fresh fish, like salmon and tuna, are packed full of omega-3 fatty acids that serve to protect your heart. By preventing oxidative damage and lowering cholesterol, your blood vessels remain healthy and blood pressure stays within an optimal range.
Garlic may be known for keeping vampires away in the stories but it also keeps blood pressure low. Garlic increases the amount of nitric oxide in your body which promotes vasodilation or the widening of arteries. Wider arteries allow for smoother blood flow and lower blood pressure.
Dark chocolate contains cocoa which contains natural antioxidants that promote lower blood pressure. The darker chocolates also contain less sugar than milk chocolates so are better overall for your health.
The best way to lower blood pressure is to watch what you eat. Sugar and unhealthy fats contribute to high blood pressure and cholesterol. When cholesterol is high, your blood vessels become blocked which then increases blood pressure and strain on your heart.
A balanced and nutritious diet full of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein will keep your blood pressure at optimal levels.
In addition to these foods, you can make different lifestyle choices to help control blood pressure:
Give Up the Bad Habits
Smoking causes damage to your blood vessels which makes it harder for your heart to pump blood around. Studies have found that quitting smoking shows almost immediate improvements in blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health.
Excessive alcohol also causes elevated blood pressure, so limit consumption and drink in moderation.
When you carry around extra weight, your heart has to work harder and blood pressure elevates. Extra fat cells also encourage inflammation, which can increase blood pressure.
By losing weight, you not only remove the strain placed on your heart but improve circulation and overall cardiovascular health.
Staying active keeps unwanted pounds off, improves circulation, and reduces stress. In each of these ways, regular exercise can help to control blood pressure and prevent damage to blood vessels.
The Bottom Line
High blood pressure is one of the most common health problems in the country and much of this has to do with the typical and unhealthy Western diet. Processed, high-fat, and high-sugar foods don’t do you any favors when it comes to your health, including your blood pressure.
Switch up your diet, get some exercise, and add a few probiotics to the mix to keep your gut healthy, you happy, and blood pressure levels within an optimal range.