July 23, 2014

The Potential Benefits Of Probiotics For Managing Blood Pressure

Rayshell Clapper for - Your Universe Online

Probiotics work to manage gut flora by controlling the bad bacteria with good bacteria. WebMD reports that probiotics have even been linked to maintaining a strong immune system as well as these other ailments:

• Treating childhood diarrhea
• Treating ulcerative colitis
• Treating necrotizing enterocolitis
• Preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea
• Preventing infectious diarrhea
• Preventing pouchitis
• Treating and preventing eczema associated with cow’s milk allergy

Probiotics serve many beneficial purposes. They help regulate the gut flora, primarily, but recent studies published in the American Health Association (AHA) journal Hypertension show that probiotics might also help lower and maintain blood pressure.

According to an AHA blog, “Probiotics are live microorganisms (naturally occurring bacteria in the gut) thought to have beneficial effects; common sources are yogurt or dietary supplements.” Many fermented foods such as fermented pickles, cabbage, and milk also contain probiotics. However, the most common ways that people ingest probiotics are through yogurt and dietary supplements.

The study, led by Dr. Jing Sun of the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, analyzed nine other high-quality studies of 543 adults that examined the relationships between blood pressure and probiotics. Here is what the researchers found:

• Probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average 3.56 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by an average 2.38 mm Hg, compared to adults who didn’t consume probiotics.

• The positive effects from probiotics on diastolic blood pressure were greatest in people whose blood pressure was equal to or greater than 130/85, which is considered elevated.

• Consuming probiotics for less than eight weeks didn’t lower systolic or diastolic blood pressure.

• Probiotic consumption with a daily bacteria volume of 109-10 12 colony-forming units (CFU) may improve blood pressure. Consumption with less than 109 CFU didn’t lower blood pressure. CFU is the amount of bacteria or the dose of probiotics in a product.

• Probiotics with multiple bacteria lowered blood pressure more than those with a single bacteria.

While these initial findings are quite positive, the results are not absolute and require more study and focus in order to truly understand the role that probiotics play in blood pressure. As Dr. Sun said, “We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance.”

Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women in America. According to the Mayo Clinic, high blood pressure is one form of heart disease and can lead to stroke, dementia, coronary artery disease, or even a heart attack. High blood pressure plays a role in circulation, eye damage, and kidney failure as well. As if these were not bad enough, high blood pressure may lead to sexual dysfunction, sleep problems, and bone loss. And the kicker is people can live with high blood pressure for quite some time without knowing it.

The findings in Dr. Sun’s study are worth looking into more seeing as heart disease plays such a tragic role in many American lives. For more information, see the current edition of the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.

> High blood pressure risk calculator