Your body contains almost 100,000 miles of capillaries, arteries, and veins. They could circle the Earth four times if you laid them all out. Combined with your heart, these blood vessels are your cardiovascular system.
But what happens when this system breaks down?
High blood pressure (AKA hypertension) affects nearly 50% of American adults. It is known as the “silent killer.” In 2018, almost half a million deaths listed hypertension as a contributing factor! Hypertension not only causes heart failure, strokes, and aneurysms but can contribute to many other chronic diseases.
Are you scared yet? Don’t be. There’s hope! And it’s not another medication!
There are concrete lifestyle steps that you can take to heal your body from the inside out and reduce severe symptoms like elevated blood pressure. There’s also a team of trillions of helpers available to you– your gut bacteria!
To understand how a healthy gut takes the pressure off your heart and blood vessels, we’re going to look at:
- How your gut microbiome can contribute to regulating your blood pressure.
- The adverse effects of poor gut health (called dysbiosis).
- How you can keep your microbiome in (hypertension) fighting shape!
Short-Chain Fatty Acids: Sweet, Sweet Gut Honey
You probably take it for granted when your gut microbiome is healthy and working correctly. Our gut bacteria play a significant role in maintaining our overall health. Here are just a few of the things beneficial bacteria do for you:
- They’re an essential part of our immune system,
- contribute to healthy aging,
- keep our skin healthy,
- fight against diabetes,
- regulate our mental health
- contribute to healthy weight loss
How does our gut do all this hard work? One major factor is the ability to produce short-chain fatty acids(SCFAs), which are like solid gold in terms of healthy functioning.
SCFAs have tons of benefits to our health. But two of their main jobs are fighting chronic inflammation and producing hormones.
But where do short-chain fatty acids come from?
Picture your gut as being full of bees. That’s right, Bees. Our gut bacteria are the bees, and the SCFAs are the sweet, sweet gut honey they produce. Our gut bacteria make SCFAs by the process of fermenting the fiber we eat.
Natural fiber from fruits and vegetables is essential to our diet. It feeds the healthy bacteria in our gut. As a little “thank you” to us, our gut bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, which help us in numerous ways.
- They keep Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme (ACE) in check. This enzyme is known to be related to high blood pressure. It is the target of many pharmaceutical medications for the treatment of hypertension.
- SCFAs have anti-inflammatory properties. They regulate the production of cytokines, which are substances that cause inflammation.
- Salt sensitivity. Too much salt can lead to hypertension. There’s a theory that SCFAs can contribute to the production of receptors in our body that alter how our body processes salt.
- Other stuff. There’s also known and hypothesized (science for an educated guess) that short-chain fatty acids regulate the production of many substances that can contribute to blood pressure.
Healthy gut bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to regulating our blood pressure in many ways.
The Black Sheep of Bacteria
Growing up, I bet you heard your parents say this a time or two, probably loudly, “THAT KID IS GONNA GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK!”I’m sure they weren’t referring to you. It was that “other” sibling who was always causing trouble.
As it turns out, some of your species of bacteria could contribute to adverse cardiovascular health when it comes to our gut bacteria. Let’s call these bacterial species our “Black Sheep Bacteria.”
Researchers tested this hypothesis on a large group of Finnish people with and without high blood pressure. They found that people with high blood pressure had different gut bacteria than people with healthy blood pressure.
Other scientists used mice to test this theory further. They found that when the gut bacteria of humans with high blood pressure were transplanted into the gut of germ-free mice, those mice developed high blood pressure! Sorry, mice.
There are a couple of reasons this might happen.
First, the black sheep bacterial species don’t produce short-chain fatty acids, at least not enough of them. Fewer SCFAs lead to a lowered production of the hormones that regulate blood pressure.
Second, an unhealthy community of gut bacteria, known as dysbiosis, can lead to inflammation. This inflammation can become chronic and lead to other issues like digestive symptoms, fatigue, pain, and chronic disease.
Chronic inflammation is terrible for your blood vessels. Our blood vessels must remain healthy and flexible to regulate blood pressure. Chronic inflammation can lead to cholesterol buildup in our blood vessel walls, making them weaker and causing them to harden (a condition called atherosclerosis).
Combined, these effects create a dangerous environment for your blood vessels, leading to hypertension.
Dysbiosis causes changes in our gut bacteria, causing less short-chain fatty acid production, which leads to chronic inflammation. Both of these changes cause negatively impact the health of our blood vessels and their ability to regulate our blood pressure.
Feeding a Betr Gut Microbiome
A healthy garden is one with lots of different plants and flowers. This not only looks pretty, but it protects your garden from disease and keeps the bees happy!
You need to tend your garden of gut bacteria the same way you would grow your flower bed or feed your kids.
As discussed earlier in this post, healthy bacterial species need lots of fiber to digest to produce short-chain fatty acids. It’s no surprise that our “Western Diet,” which is low in fiber and high in salt, fat, and simple carbs, is associated with unhealthy high blood pressure.
A gut-healthy diet can be pretty yummy, too! Betr’s Level 1 protocol is a time-tested, scientifically-backed collection of anti-inflammatory, high-fiber foods designed to heal your microbiome, reverse inflammation, and maintain your blood pressure. Have you checked out some of the Betr Health recipes?
Betr’s “Food as Medicine” protocol can support gut health, lower the risk of high blood pressure, and even reverse already elevated blood pressure.
Wrap-up: Listen to Your Heart
The critical points of this article are:
- Healthy gut bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids, which regulate blood pressure in many ways.
- Dysbiosis causes changes in our gut bacteria, causing less short-chain fatty acid production, which leads to chronic inflammation. Both of these changes cause negatively impact the health of our blood vessels and their ability to regulate our blood pressure.
- Betr’s “Food as Medicine” protocol can support gut health, lower the risk of developing high blood pressure, and even reverse already elevated blood pressure.
Explore Betr's risk-free trial to see if you could benefit from using food as medicine to rebuild your microbiome and realize the healthy potential you never knew you were missing!