As Valentine’s Day approaches this year, consider ways you can give the people you love the best gift of all – a promise to get heart healthy. February is the month we typically think about those we love, our Valentine’s, and, so it just makes sense that is it is also designated Heart Health Month. After all, heart disease is the number one cause of death in the U.S., according to The Heart Foundation.
The good news is it only takes a few well-placed lifestyle changes to improve your heart health. Joining a gym and creating a consistent workout routine or cutting back on salt, saturated and trans fats are good places to start. Another positive step is to begin a probiotic regimen designed to help keep your heart working at its peak.
The human microbiota refers to the microorganisms that live on and in the body, many of which aid in our body in a number of ways. For example, certain strains of bacteria are an essential part of digestion. The American Society for Microbiology explains that the microbiota consists of trillions of microbes. These aren’t just any bacteria, either. It is a very specific grouping of organisms – one that differs from person to person.
Modern science is learning more about how diversity in the microbiota, especially in the gut, affects disease processes and overall health. The right balance of good bacteria keeps the ecosystem inside the digestive tract in check, helping to prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease. That’s where adding probiotics to your wellness strategy may improve your heart health.
A study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic made a connection between gut bacteria and heart conditions. Specific bacteria in the stomach break down a nutrient to create trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) – an ingredient necessary for plaque formation in the arteries. Dr. Hazen, one of the study directors said, “…while we know how to reduce cholesterol, treat blood pressure and reduce cardiac risks through diet and other interventions, a substantial residual risk still remains. We need to find new pathways to attack heart disease, and these findings strongly suggest that further research into the involvement of gut microbiome in the development of cardiovascular disease could lead to new avenues of prevention and treatment of heart disease.”
The job of probiotics is to balance the gut microbiota and improve this delicate ecosystem. Creating an equilibrium is what keeps “bad” bacteria in check. Various studies show that taking probiotics may help with many cardiac-related illnesses including:
Recent investigation shows that there is a shift in the gut microbiota that may be responsible for this epidemic. Researchers found that individuals with excess body fat may have less diverse gut microbiota, which includes a shift in the dominant phyla of bacteria. Taking the right balance of probiotics may help with weight loss in combination with other lifestyle changes like regular exercise. A study conducted by researchers at Laval University in Quebec found that patients who followed a 12-week weight loss plan along with probiotics continued to lose weight even during the maintenance period.
The obvious conclusion is that balancing your gut can help put you on a path toward heart health, especially when you combine a probiotic plan with other healthy lifestyle choices. Focus on your heart this Valentine’s Day by making smart choices. Eat right, get plenty of exercise and consider a probiotic plan to improve your overall health.