Healthy intestinal flora promotes healthy hearts

Healthy intestinal flora promotes healthy hearts

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A healthy intestine promotes a healthy heart

As we get older, our blood vessels also change. They stiffen and lose elasticity. This in turn increases the risk of serious cardiovascular diseases such as a heart attack or stroke. Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder have been able to demonstrate in a research project that healthy intestinal flora strengthens vascular health.

A recent study by the University of Colorado Boulder found that natural changes in the intestinal flora lead to negative effects on the health of our vessels as we age. The results of the study were published in the English-language journal "Journal of Physiology".

Mice were treated with antibiotics

This is the first study to show that changes in the gut microbiome in old age can have negative effects on vascular health. This opens up a completely new way of potentially preventing cardiovascular diseases.

During the study, the research team administered broad-spectrum antibiotics to young and old mice to kill the majority of bacteria in their intestines. After that, the health of her vascular endothelium (the inner lining of her blood vessels) and the stiffness of her large arteries were measured. The blood levels of inflammatory compounds, tissue-damaging free radicals, antioxidants and nitrogen monoxide were also measured in all animals.

Microbiome suppression restored vascular health

No change in vascular health was observed in the young mice after three to four weeks of treatment. In the older mice, however, a strong improvement was found in all of the above points. When the microbiome of the old mice was suppressed, the vascular health of the animals was restored.

This suggests that these microorganisms do something that causes vascular dysfunction. To determine a possible cause, the researchers took stool samples from another group of mice and had them genetically sequenced, comparing the intestinal bacteria of old mice with those of the young animals.

What was found?

In the old mice, an increased prevalence of microbes was observed, which are pro-inflammatory and have previously been associated with diseases. In the old mice, there were significantly more proteobacteria, which include Salmonella and other pathogens, as well as pro-inflammatory desulfovibrio.

The blood levels of metabolites in old and young mice were also measured. Older mice had three times as much TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide) in their body, a metabolite that is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke, the authors explain in a press release.

Does our gut microbiota produce toxic substances in old age?

It has long been known that oxidative stress and inflammation cause arteries to become sick over time. However, why arteries are affected or inflamed by stress has not yet been known.

The intestinal microbiota probably begins to produce toxic molecules (including TMAO) in old age, which enter the bloodstream, cause inflammation and oxidative stress and damage the tissue.

Dimethylbutanol blocks the enzyme used to make TMAO

Antibiotics should not be seen as a fountain of youth for the health of our cardiovascular system. It was used exclusively as an experimental tool in the study. There are far too many side effects and other problems when antibiotics are used widely.

Probiotic foods strengthen gut health

A diet high in probiotic foods (e.g. yogurt, kefir, kimchi) and prebiotic fiber could play an important role in preventing heart disease by promoting a healthy gut microbiome.

The researchers also investigated a compound called dimethylbutanol, which is found in some olive oils, vinegars, and red wines that block the bacterial enzyme that is required to make TMAO. Ultimately, dimethylbutanol could be developed into a dietary supplement. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Video: Gut Flora Predicts Heart Attack and Stroke (July 2022).


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