heart disease

3 spoonfuls of spices and salt

Your Gut May Protect You From Too Much Salt

Are you eating a diet heavy in processed or fast foods? Chances are good you’re eating way too much salt and setting yourself up for a lot of cardiovascular problems.

You’re already thinking, “I never touch a salt shaker at dinner or when I’m eating out.” More than 75 percent of the salt you consume hides in the processed foods you eat on the run or in a restaurant, according to the American Heart Association.

The average American consumes about 3,400 milligrams of salt every day, nearly 50 percent more than the 2,300 milligrams (1 teaspoon) recommended by most health experts.

Left unchecked, all of that extra salt in your body is a silent force that can lead to high blood pressure and, in time, heart disease, which leads the list of the top 10 causes of death among all Americans.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn all that extra salt harms your gut health too. But, a recent study on animals and human subjects appearing in Nature – a team-up between researchers at MIT and Berlin’s Max Delbruck Center and Charite – offers a bit hope.

Previous work has shown how a high-salt diet harms the body’s immune system by increasing the production of Th-17 cells that trigger inflammation and elevate a patient’s risks of hypertension.

For this new study, researchers sharply increased the salt intake of mice (eight times) and 12 healthy men (nearly three times) for two weeks apiece compared to healthier diets to determine how their bodies would react.

In both sets of tests, the composition of gut bacteria in mice and men changed for the worse with drops in Lactobacillus. These declines were also marked by expected increases in inflammatory Th-17 cells and higher blood pressure.

Interestingly, when probiotics containing Lactobacillus were introduced the collective gut and cardiovascular health of both sets of test subjects improved rapidly too, underscoring a link between salt and gut bacteria.

(Both EndoMune Advanced Probiotic for adults and EndoMune Jr contain multiple strains of beneficial bacteria, including Lactobacillus).

Extra salt harms your brain

According to researchers, heart disease may not be the only health issue affected by excessive salt intake either, as the uptick in inflammation may trigger the development of autoimmune diseases similar to multiple sclerosis.

A more recent study on salt appearing in Nature Neuroscience tied the accumulation of Th-17 cells in the gut (they produce proteins that suppress nitric oxide which reduces the supply of blood to the brain) to damaged neurons and cognitive problems related to the gut-brain axis.

“We discovered that mice fed a high-salt diet developed dementia even when blood pressure did not rise,” said senior author Dr. Costantino Iadecola, director of the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) and the Anne Parrish Titzell Professor of Neurology at Weill Cornell Medicine, according to a press release.

“This was surprising since, in humans, the deleterious effects of salt on cognition were attributed to hypertension.”

Despite the restorative power of probiotics mentioned in the MIT study, researchers were concerned consumers might take them in hopes of canceling out the effect of eating of salty, fatty foods.

Yet, as we’ve seen in previous reports documenting the production of TMAO (trimethylene n-oxide), the gut is much more strongly connected to heart disease than many experts previously assumed.

Probiotics certainly aren’t “magic pills” that can cure any disease, but even the experts have come to appreciate the many ways the gut touches all parts of human health.

Taking a probiotic, ideally with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune, is quickly becoming a must if you want to protect your health, safely, effectively and naturally.

friends cheering their glasses of wine over plates of food

How Aphrodisiacs can Help Fight Disease

There has been a lot of recent interest among food researchers investigating the health benefits of resveratrol, an antioxidant found naturally in red wine, dark chocolate, peanuts and some berries.

As we’ve talked about previously in this space, good gut health is one of the variables that allows resveratrol-rich foods like dark chocolate and red wine to offer some pretty nifty advantages, like sharpening your brain.

Consuming resveratrol-rich foods may also be responsible for these perks by making changes to your gut health, according to a pair of reports related to protecting your cardiovascular system from disease.

Resveratrol vs. diabetes

A fascination about the benefits of resveratrol piqued the curiosity of Dr. Jason Dyck, who has spent years studying this antioxidant at the University of Alberta.

Previous studies found resveratrol benefited the health of diabetic patients by lowering their blood sugar levels, but scientists didn’t understand how because resveratrol levels circulating throughout the human bloodstream are so low.

That is, until Dyck and his research team examined how resveratrol affected the gut microbiomes of mice in a study appearing in the medical journal, Diabetes.

In step one, feeding obese mice resveratrol for six weeks was enough to change the makeup of their tiny microbiomes and improve their tolerance to glucose.

The positive results from stage two of their study – giving new healthy mice fecal transplants from that previous group of diabetic mice – were far more dramatic, rapid and impressive than feeding them resveratrol alone.

“We performed fecal transplants in pre-diabetic obese mice and within two weeks their blood sugar levels were almost back to normal,” says Dr. Dyck, according to a press release.

After some deliberation, scientists concluded this gut health change may be the result of one or a group of metabolites that could be triggering healthy changes in blood sugar levels.

“It’s going to take a herculean effort to find what that molecule is,” says Dr. Dyck. “Maybe it’s one, maybe it’s a combination of four or five, or maybe even a hundred. We don’t know, but we intend to find out.”

Resveratrol vs. heart disease

Resveratrol may also play an important role in reducing the production of TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide), an organic gut byproduct that promotes heart disease by triggering the accumulation of plaque in the arteries by gut flora, according to a report appearing in mBio.

A group of Chinese researchers fed mice bred to have an elevated risk of developing atherosclerosis food with or without resveratrol for 30 days. Then, the mice were fed TMA (trimethylamine) or choline to trigger any unhealthy reactions.

Resveratrol had a very similar calming effect, not only on TMAO levels, but the production of TMA in the gut that generates TMAO. Additionally, feeding mice resveratrol also increased levels of various bacterial species, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Too much of a good thing

Before you start stocking up on resveratrol-rich foods, it’s important to remember too much of a good thing can cause health problems too.

For example, increasing your resveratrol intake by eating dark chocolate is OK, so long as you don’t overdo it. Be sure you’re eating minimally processed dark chocolate that contains high percentages of cocoa.

Consuming wine, along with beer and baked goods, can also be a problem for your gut, as these foods contain sulfites that can inhibit the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut if you’re not careful.

Feeding your gut by taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria may shield your heart health from cardiovascular diseases, like diabetes and chronic inflammation too.

Protect Your Gut From Fatty Holiday Foods

Many of us can’t wait for the end of the year, if for no other reason than to satisfy our year-round cravings for eggnog, prime rib, dressing, pecan pie and other fatty holiday foods.

Eating those holiday foods in excess as many of us do during the season comes with an unhealthy price to pay in adding extra pounds, not to mention harming our gut.

A recent study featured in Cell Reports goes a long way toward describing how the gut may predict the damage you do to your body merely by eating excessive amounts of high-fat foods.

High-fat diets: No ho, ho, ho!

Previous studies have found that people eating the same high-fat diets — the major culprit in an array of health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and stroke — react differently. Some may suffer from less or more problems than others.

Researchers fed genetically similar mice healthy foods and screened urine samples for compounds produced by their gut bacteria, establishing a baseline of healthy chemical profiles.

Once those same lab animals were switched to fatty foods, their tiny bodies reacted just like their human counterparts, with some becoming less tolerant to glucose (an early sign of diabetes) while others gained more weight.

Follow-up analyses of urine samples taken from mice after feeding them fatty foods changed too, predicting signs of unhealthy changes in weight, glucose and behavior.

In fact, the presence of one very popular chemical produced by the gut — trimethylene n-oxide (TMAO) — was a sign of glucose issues, not to mention heart disease.

“We tend to believe that obesity is caused by bad genes or by bad genes interacting with bad environment,” says Dr. Dominique Gauguier, a senior investigator on this study based in Paris, according to a press release.

“Our findings indicate that an organism’s gut microbiome can drive the adaptation to dietary challenges in the absence of genetic variation.”

These results are only the beginning, as researchers plan to embark on a larger, more in-depth clinical trial on 2,000 human patients that will go further toward forecasting how people react to differing diets and how gut health drives their overall health.

The long-term goal: Generating chemical profiles from urine and blood samples that may offer guidance on what diets are most supportive for a patient’s optimal health.

Until that comes…

What we do know right now is that maintaining a healthy balance of beneficial gut bacteria is critical in protecting your body from cardiovascular diseases like diabetes, based on the findings of a Danish study we’ve discussed previously.

That same study also found that patients who had less diverse gut microbiomes carried more fat on their bodies and experienced more inflammation in their digestive tracts, making them more vulnerable to cardiovascular diseases.

The holiday season is full of gatherings with friends, family and lots of fatty seasonal foods that can add inches and pounds to your waistline and disrupt the diversity of your gut in no time if you overindulge too often.

Keeping your portion sizes small and eating healthier foods rich in fiber can do a lot of good for your body and keep off those extra pounds.

Taking a multi-species probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic with 10 distinct species of beneficial bacteria, can also go a long way toward protecting the diversity of your gut and your overall health too.

Probiotics may lower the risk for heart disease? Research says, ‘yes’!

Every year nearly 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack and 210,000 happen in people who have already had a heart attack. While these numbers are staggering, the first step towards fighting cardiovascular problems and lowering cholesterol levels starts with a living a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, daily exercise along with adding a probiotic supplement.

Further research and studies conducted on probiotics show that gut health can be related to the heart. A healthy gut with a rich flora of life-supporting bacteria can mean the prevention of many health issues, even preventing and treating heart ailments.

Research shows probiotics can lower the risk for cardiovascular disease by limiting two risk factors:

A new Cleveland Clinic study links a particular type of metabolite called Trimethylamine (TMA) N-oxide or TMAO as a recently discovered independent risk factor for coronary artery disease and strokes. This chemical interacts with the lining of our arteries leading cholesterol plaques. Harmful intestinal bacteria breakdown a chemical called choline that is in egg yolk, liver, beef, and pork. The breakdown metabolite called TMA is converted by the liver into TMAO.

TMAO: The New Culprit

High plasma levels of TMAO correlated with an increased risk of major adverse cardiovascular events that is independent of traditional risk factors like hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), smoking and hypertension. The authors of the study recommend limiting the intake of the choline containing foods and adding a beneficial probiotic that will reduce the harmful bacteria that metabolize choline. “This is a very exciting study,” said Dr. Crandall. “It gives us a brand new way of looking at heart disease. It also opens an avenue for new tests and treatments.”

The discovery of the heart disease-causing bacteria might explain why about half of those who die of sudden heart attacks have no known risk factors for heart disease, like high blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes, he noted.

Lowering circulating blood total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol)

In another study from the American Heart Association, researchers tracked cholesterol esters bound to saturated fat, which has been linked to dangerous arterial plaque buildup and occurs at higher levels in coronary artery disease in patients.

The study involved 127 adult patients with high cholesterol. About half the participants took a probiotic called Lactobacillus reuteri NCIMB 30242 twice a day while the other half of the group were given placebo capsules. Those taking the probiotic had LDL levels 11.6 percent lower than those on placebo after nine weeks. Furthermore, cholesterol esters were reduced by 6.3 percent and cholesterol ester saturated fatty acids by 8.8 percent, compared with the placebo group.

Scientists have proposed that Lactobacillus bacteria alone may impact cholesterol levels in several ways, including breaking apart molecules known as bile salts which results in lower production of cholesterol by the liver.

If you are struggling with cholesterol-related health problems or are on a weight loss program that isn’t working for you, consider meeting with your medical practitioner and adding a high quality probiotic like EndoMune to lessen risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

Could a Mediterranean diet help your heart and gut?

Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) is a trouble-making metabolite produced by the liver after your gut bacteria digests animal protein that contributes to heart disease.

You may be familiar with our reporting on TMAO, as a number of researchers have targeted it, most recently using allicin, a sulfur-based compound in garlic, to reduce its chemical footprint and improve cardiovascular health significantly.

The goal: Develop safer ways to treat TMAO without resorting to antibiotics that promote the depletion of good and bad bacteria in the gut.

Previously, scientists had also tried unsuccessfully to stop the process by inhibiting host enzymes that converted trimethylamine (TMA) into TMAO until liver damage was detected.

A second TMAO-related study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic has discovered another way to fight atherosclerosis/heart disease by targeting gut molecules with DMB, a chemical compound contained in foods associated with the Mediterranean Diet.

This chemical is naturally found in grape seed oils, balsamic vinegars and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils, according to the study appearing in Cell.

In testing on mice predisposed to atherosclerosis that were fed a choline-rich diet, DMB cut TMAO levels sharply by limiting the formation of TMA.

Two more important advantages of DMB:

  • Unlike antibiotics, DMB didn’t wipe out gut bacteria and limited the amounts of some microbes linked to higher levels of TMA. This could mean gut bacteria may not develop a resistance to DMB, unlike antibiotics.
  • DMB would work differently than drugs like Lipitor that lower cholesterol, as it would target gut bacteria, not human cells.

Should human trials by successful down the road, researchers believe this could lead to other investigations, and the development of a drug.

“If we replicate our findings in upcoming human studies, this could be a whole new approach to the treatment of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases,” says senior study author Dr. Stanley Hazen, according to a press release.

“In the meantime, our findings suggest that it might not be a bad idea to consume a Mediterranean diet to help stave off heart disease and other health problems.”

Adding a healthy amount of dietary fiber to your diet along with a multi-strain probiotic, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, also offers greater protection from cardiovascular disease.

Guard Yourself Against Heart Disease With Probiotics

Heart disease is caused by cholesterol-rich diets, right?

New research has shown that this common misconception may not be entirely true. Although science has not conclusively found the exact cause of heart disease, researchers have found connections between gut infections and heart disease. More so, scientific investigation into gut infections and heart disease has illuminated the consequences of a “leaky” gut.

A “leaky” gut, or a gut wall that becomes easily penetrable, is caused by several factors, including stress, over-eating or infections. Once the gut wall becomes “leaky,” it releases endotoxins into the blood stream that embed themselves inside tissue, eliciting damages.

Fermented foods and probiotics, like EndoMune Advanced, contain several strains of healthy bacteria that can heal a “leaky” gut wall, lower inflammation and decrease the risk of contracting heart disease.

More And More Research Affirms The Benefits Of Healthy Gut Bacteria

Dear EndoMune subscribers,

This month’s newsletter looks at some of the recent research on the positive effects healthy bacteria can have on the digestive system.

When I went into medicine, we spent a long time studying how bacteria caused serious infectious diseases. We learned about the importance of antibiotics and when to use them.

We never had a lecture on how certain bacteria (microflora) have co-evolved with us and how they help maintain our health.

No one really knew much about these healthy bacteria. But it turns out that they are essential for human life. We need them in our gut to digest food, synthesize certain vitamins and form a barricade against disease-causing bacteria.

But what do they look like in healthy people, and how much do they vary from person to person?

“Studies have found that the healthy bacteria can inhibit intestinal immune system from producing immune reactions against food protein lessening the risk of asthma, eczema and other allergies.”

Human Microbiome Project

The National Institute of Medicine launched the Human Microbiome Project1 (HMP) in 2008. It’s a five-year program to better understand how the bacterial communities (microbiome) that live on and in the human body protect our health.

The HMP involves 200 scientists at 80 institutions. Using the latest genetic techniques, they collect samples of bacterial genetic material from 242 healthy people.

The samples have been collected from five areas of the body: the digestive tract, the mouth, the skin, the nose and the vagina.

The projects reveal some of the ways in which invisible or microscopic bacteria shape our lives from birth to death. The ultimate goal is to test whether changes in the human microbiome are associated with human health or disease.

Benefits of a Healthy Microbiome

For example, researchers2 at Baylor College of Medicine have found that the vaginal bacterial flora or microbiomes change during pregnancy. Particular species, like Lactobacillus johnsonii, become dominant. This bacteria is usually found in the human intestinal tract where it produces enzymes that promote digestion of milk and substances that destroy harmful bacteria.

These findings have implications for the newborn. Before birth, the infant is in a sterile environment. The initial exposure to the world of bacteria is during the passage through the birth canal. It has been speculated that the baby will ingest some of the Lactobacillus johnsonii which will aid in digesting breast milk.

Babies born by Caesarean section start out with different microbiomes, but it is not yet known whether their microbiomes remain different after they mature.

During infancy, the baby’s intestinal microbiome expands and is impacted by breastfeeding. A study of 16 lactating women3 found that human breast milk had up to 600 bacterial species and resistant starches. Breast milk helps to promote the healthy intestinal bacteria which aid in digestion, immune function and protection from harmful bacteria.

Studies have found that the healthy bacteria can inhibit intestinal immune systems from producing immune reactions against food protein lessening the risk of asthma, eczema and other allergies.

Future Research Projects

In addition to the above studies, the HMP is doing research on the how the skin microbiome may play a role in skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema.

Other research projects are evaluating the intestinal microbiome in obese versus normal weight individuals. Previous studies have found that there is a difference in the bacterial flora in obese and thin animals and humans. Hopefully, the flora can be manipulated to lessen obesity and the associated disorders of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

The point of this newsletter is that the scientific community now recognizes the importance of maintaining a healthy microbiome. The concern is that antibiotics can upset the healthy microbiome and can contribute to chronic disorders like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and allergies.

Take Home Message

Consider taking a high quality probiotic like EndoMune to maintain a healthy microbiome balance.

Remember, EndoMune contains 10 strains of bacteria, and it is the only probiotic on the market developed by a board certified gastroenterologist.

Eat healthy, exercise and live well!!!
Best Wishes,
Dr. Hoberman

 

1) Structure, function and diversity of the healthy human microbiome. Human Microbiome Project Consortium.Nature. 2012 Jun 13;486(7402):207-14. doi: 10.1038/nature11234.

2) A metagenomic approach to characterization of the vaginal microbiome signature in pregnancy. Aagaard K, Riehle K, Ma J, Segata N, Mistretta TA, Coarfa C, Raza S, Rosenbaum S, Van den Veyver I, Milosavljevic A, Gevers D, Huttenhower C, Petrosino J, Versalovic J. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e36466. Epub 2012 Jun 13.

3) Characterization of the diversity and temporal stability of bacterial communities in human milk.Hunt KM, Foster JA, Forney LJ, Schütte UM, Beck DL, Abdo Z, Fox LK, Williams JE, McGuire MK, McGuire MA.PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e21313. Epub 2011 Jun 17.

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