Our overall health and wellbeing is largely determined by the environment in which we live. This includes our physical environment, our emotions, and even the balance of bacteria in our gut. Did you know that the state of your gut microbiome can have a direct effect on the health of your heart and blood vessels?
Let's dive in and discover the surprising connection between these two critical aspects of our health.
What is the Gut Microbiome?
Let's start with the basics. Your gut is home to a network of trillions of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This collection of microbes is known as your gut microbiome, and it’s responsible for aiding in the digestion and absorption of nutrients, supporting your immune system, and producing important chemicals like neurotransmitters that impact your overall health.
10 common signs you may have an unhealthy gut:
- Poor digestion and upset stomach
- Frequent fatigue and lack of energy
- Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue
- Sudden intolerance to foods
- Extreme food cravings, especially sugar
- Unintentional weight gain or loss
- Skin irritations
- Frequent mood changes
- High-stress lifestyle
Understanding the Gut-Heart Connection
The connection between the gut and heart is an intricate one - yet surprisingly, so few of us know how intertwined the two really are.
So, what role may the gut play in heart disease? To start, a gut imbalance can cause bacteria that normally reside in the colon to migrate to the small intestine and cause problems. When certain bacteria are exposed to a high-sugar diet, it can lead to the production of harmful byproducts that have been linked to heart complications. To make matters worse, when harmful microorganisms escape through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream, they can cause widespread inflammation in your body.
Let's break down the long-term impact of gut imbalance on your heart health.
Inflammation is a natural response, designed to protect you against infection, injury, or disease. However, when it persists for too long, it can become chronic. But how does this happen? Well, it all starts with the food you eat.
The trillions of bacteria that live in your gut play a key role in digestion and nutrient absorption. They also produce compounds that help keep your gut barrier intact and prevent inflammation. When you eat a diet high in processed foods and added sugars, you promote the growth of harmful bacteria and yeast, while simultaneously damaging the good bacteria that protect your gut. This can lead to chronic inflammation, a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
The gut microbiome can also affect the gut's permeability, or "leakiness." When the gut is leaky, toxins and waste products can enter the bloodstream and contribute to increased inflammation as well.
High Blood Sugar
When our gut microbiome is in balance, it helps regulate the levels of glucose in our blood, which is key for maintaining healthy insulin sensitivity. Glucose is the body's main source of energy, and it's essential for proper heart function. This process helps to keep blood sugar levels under control and prevent those harmful spikes we want to avoid. Research shows that if glucose levels become too high, it can lead to diabetes, insulin resistance, and an increased risk for heart disease.
The gut microbiome also assists in metabolizing dietary fats and lipids, which can influence cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol has the potential to result in cardiovascular issues due to fatty deposits along artery walls (atherosclerosis). This is triggered when cholesterol, fat, blood cells, and other substances in your blood come together to form plaque. Subsequently, this fatty buildup causes your arteries to narrow and diminishes the flow of oxygen-rich blood to essential organs in the body.
While many people associate yeast overgrowth with digestive issues, it can also have a profound impact on your cardiovascular health.
Candida is a type of yeast that normally exists in small amounts in our gut. Yeast overgrowth occurs when yeast has overgrown its natural environment in the large intestine and invaded the small intestine. A certain amount of yeast is natural to our body, but an overgrowth can cause a range of symptoms, including fatigue, brain fog, digestive, and heart problems.
Certain types of gut bacteria may play a role in the development of certain diseases including:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- Heart failure
- Heart attacks and strokes
The overgrowth of Candida can also lead to the release of almost 200 different toxic by-products, including ethanol and acetaldehyde. These substances can damage the walls of our blood vessels, making them more susceptible to inflammation and plaque buildup. This can increase your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease and stroke.
Restoring Gut Health
So, what steps can you take to reduce your risk of heart disease? Taking probiotics, managing stress levels, and adopting a high fiber, low sugar diet are just some of the ways you can kick off better gut health and reduce your risk of heart disease. Focus on including plenty of fiber-rich and fermented foods, such as kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut. Avoid processed foods and antibiotics as much as possible, as they both can negatively impact your gut balance.
Looking for meal ideas? Take a look at our tips and simple, clean eating plans to begin with ease.
The Power of Soil-Based Probiotics
Probiotics and prebiotics are two types of dietary supplements that are often touted as supporting a healthy gut microbiome. While probiotics contain beneficial bacteria, prebiotics contain substances that encourage the growth of these bacteria.
Soil-based probiotics are produced from bacterial strains that occur naturally in the soil. These are similar strains to those you might find in a garden, contributing immense benefits to your digestive tract and beyond. Unlike more commonly used probiotics, soil-based formulas are resilient, withstanding the harsh environment of the stomach to deliver nutrients exactly where they need to go to colonize and support a healthy gut.
Soil-based probiotics are a great option if:
✔ You want to experience more regular digestion, less bloating, abdominal pain, and gas.
✔ You’ve tried traditional probiotics but still haven’t seen results.
✔ You prefer a formula that is shelf-stable without refrigeration.
✔ You often feel sluggish and would love to have more sustained energy during the day.
Should you consider a probiotic? Learn more about the benefit of soil-based probiotics can have on your gut health.
Almost every aspect of your body relies on the functioning of your digestive system, and many aspects of heart health are affected by the presence of good bacteria in your gut. Inflammation, cholesterol, and blood sugar can be reduced by simple lifestyle changes, all of which improve cardiovascular health as well. When considering ways to improve your heart health, don't overlook your gut. It's a vital part of the equation!