Gut Health and Heart Disease: What’s the Link?
In recent years, experts have questioned whether exercising and eating healthily are the only pillars needed for heart health. Increasingly, the likes of gut health appear to be a missing piece of this puzzle. As Hippocrates said more than 2,000 years ago, ‘all diseases begin in the gut’ – and his theory may just stand up.
The gut-heart connection
The gut microbiome is the community of a hundred trillion microbes that live throughout the body, with most of them – around 99% – residing deep within the intestines. Your microbiome operates like a chemical factory. It has an intricate relationship with most systems in the body, including the nervous, endocrine, immune, and vascular – all of which are intimately connected to heart health.
Unsurprisingly, what you eat contributes to the expression of your gut microbiome. Research suggests the substances your gut microbiome produce – otherwise referred to as metabolites – may influence factors closely linked to cardiovascular risks, such as high blood pressure, inflammation, and diabetesi.
Did you know?
Studies reveal people with reduced microbial diversity in the gut are at an increased risk of cardiovascular diseasesii.
The power of probiotics
Evidence routinely points to diet as a useful vehicle for optimising your gut bacteria. Probiotics are a simple tool to rebalance and replenish your gut microbiome. Derived from chicory root, Flourishe® contains a special carbohydrate called FOS (Fructo-oligosaccharides) that helps to maintain normal intestinal health. Did you know the average diet delivers as little as 2g of FOS daily, while optimal intakes should hit around 5-10g? Just one heaped teaspoon of Flourishe® provides 5g of FOS.
Feeding your gut
Your gut microbes are best thought of as a garden. Your garden may start with a decent supply of plants and soil, but if you neglect it – failing to feed and nurture it with enough fertiliser, water, and food – it will soon die off. As a result, you may not have anything left to revive. With that in mind, here are the best ways to nourish your gut:
Try to eat 50g of dietary fibre (wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds) each day to feed your gut bugs
Diversify your food! Aim to eat 30 different plant foods every week to boost microbiome diversity
Eat fermented foods regularly (the 3 K’s: kefir, kombucha, and kimchi)
Try to eat more polyphenols (berries, red cabbage, coffee, dark chocolate, etc.)
Allow for more periods of fasting during the day
Limit the use of antibiotics
Avoid highly processed foods
Tang. W.H., Kitai. T., Hazen. S.L. (2017). Gut Microbiota in Cardiovascular Health and Disease. Gut Microbiota in Cardiovascular Health and Disease. 120 (7).
Medicalxpress.com (2019). EvA gut check for heart failure patients. Available online: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-05-gut-heart-failure-patients.html
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Keri Filtness has worked in the Nutrition Industry for 19 years. She is regularly called upon for her professional comments on health and nutrition related news. Her opinions have been featured by BBC3, Prima, Vitality, The Mirror, Woman’s Own and Cycling Weekly, amongst others. She has also worked one to one with journalists, analysing their diets and health concerns and recommending changes and additions, where appropriate.