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What Does Your Gut Have to do With Your Heart Health?

What Does Your Gut Have to do With Your Heart Health?

We know that many aspects of your lifestyle can affect heart health, but a recent study sheds more light on how closely linked gut health is to the development of cardiovascular disease, specifically heart failure.

In recent years, we have heard a lot about gut microbiome, the collection of bacteria and other microorganisms that live in our digestive system, and the role it plays in our health. The average person has about 38 trillion bacteria in their microbiome, mostly concentrated in the gut or digestive tract. Not all of this bacteria is bad. Most is beneficial and aids the body with regular digestive functions and helps defend the body against more harmful bacteria.

The new research shows that the wrong balance of gut bacteria can increase your risk of major cardiovascular events like stroke and heart attack. Gut health is directly tied to inflammation which we know can lead to negative health effects. Seventy percent of the body’s inflammatory cells are housed in gut tissue, therefore directly influencing the whole body. Inflammation causes the body to pump the unhealthy gut chemicals into the bloodstream through the blood vessels affecting the heart and causing plaque to buildup in the arteries.

The good news is that it is easy to improve your gut health. Small modifications to your diet and lifestyle can make a big impact and decrease your risk for developing heart disease. Incorporating certain foods like asparagus, garlic, onions, apples, bananas, flaxseed, and steel-cut oats into your diet can help maintain a healthy gut. Avoid processed food, refined carbohydrates, and excess sugar and fat, which can lead to an unhealthy microbiome. Medications that treat infections can kill healthy gut bacteria, so use antibiotics with caution. Adding a probiotic supplement can help reduce gut inflammation and balance gut bacteria. Alcohol usage as well as stress can be another key factor in an unhealthy balance of gut bacteria.

Whether you have heart disease or are at an increased risk of developing it, recognizing the role that the gut plays in your heart health is critical in preventing potentially serious health issues.