More and more people are beginning to recognize the importance of gut health. Not only has poor gut health been directly linked to obesity, depression, and numerous autoimmune diseases, studies have now linked gut health to hypertension.
Your Gut Microbiome and High Blood Pressure
Researchers from Baylor College of Medicine took cecal contents (material from what is considered to be the beginning of the large intestine) from hypertensive rats and transferred them into the gut microbiome of healthy (non-hypertensive) rats.
After the transfer the blood pressure of the healthy rats was recorded weekly and a change was noted rather quickly. The healthy rats’ blood pressure began to increase.
Why did this happen? The research indicates that gut microbes may mediate hypertension via the production of short chain fatty acids. These fatty acids effect G-protein-coupled receptors that in turn regulate blood pressure. If you don’t have enough good bacteria in your gut, this process may become compromised.
How the Bad Guys Get the Upper Hand
What exactly is the microbiome? According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a microbiome is:
“…a community of microorganisms (such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses) that inhabit a particular environment and especially the collection of microorganisms living in or on the human body. Your body is home to about 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes, collectively known as your microbiome.”
Now, a microbiome is healthy when the majority of those 100 trillion bacteria in your gut are of the beneficial kind. Ideally, the good bacteria should outweigh the bad by about six times. But many people are walking around with a gut full of too many harmful bacteria and not enough of the good guys. How does this ratio become skewed?
There are a few different ways our gut microbiome becomes unhealthy. Let’s start with the most obvious – antibiotics.
Most of us have taken at least one round of antibiotics in our life and many of us have been on antibiotics more than once. While antibiotics can be helpful by killing off the BAD bacteria, they also kill off the good bacteria at the same time. If, after your round of antibiotics, you don’t replenish your gut with good bacteria – or PRObiotics – then your gut will most likely become populated with bad bacteria that lurks everywhere and can find its way into your body easily.
A poor diet can also wipe out the good guys. Sugar feeds the bad bacteria, and when they are getting a constant supply of food they love, they multiply quickly and your gut becomes overrun with them. When this happens you begin to feel sluggish and unhealthy.
And finally, chronic stress can lead to changes in the gut microbiome. Mental stress tends to slow down movement in the small intestine, which in turn encourages an overgrowth of harmful bacteria.
3 Ways to Improve Gut Health to Naturally Lower Blood Pressure
Now that you better understand the link between gut health and high blood pressure, let’s take a look at some ways you can begin to heal your gut:
1. Clean Up Your Diet
If you are someone that eats the standard American diet (they don’t call it SAD for nothing), it’s time to make some changes. Stop eating ALL processed food. If it comes in a box, can or plastic bag, don’t eat it.
Stop eating refined sugars and carbohydrates – these are just feeding the bad bacteria.
Start eating grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, free-roaming eggs and organic fruits and vegetable. But watch the fruit, because it’s also loaded with sugar.
You may also want to focus on eating fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and nano (fermented soy paste) to help get more beneficial bacteria in your gut. Note: do NOT eat the sugary yogurt, only plain Greek yogurt.
2. Find Ways to Deal with Stress
Stress is a part of daily life for most people. But we’ve all got to find healthy ways to deal with it.
Meditation has been shown to be a very effective way to reduce the effects of stress in the body. Just 20 minutes a day can help you feel calmer.
Exercise is also a great way to deal with stress. Not only does exercise burn through the stress hormones released into the body, it also releases endorphins that make you feel happy.
3. Eat Foods Rich in Polyphenols
Polyphenols are powerful plant compounds that can help reduce blood pressure, inflammation, and cholesterol. But these compounds aren’t fully digested or absorbed efficiently, and so they make their way to the colon, where they feed the good bacteria.
Good sources of polyphenols include:
- Cocoa and dark chocolate
- Red wine
- Grape skins
- Green tea
The bottom line is, if you take care of your gut, it will take care of you. If you suffer from high blood pressure, consider making these changes so you can get your numbers down.
If you’re looking for other natural ways to lower your blood pressure once and for all, then I encourage you to pick up a copy of The Blood Pressure Solution.