As you may know, I’ve long said that cholesterol isn’t the real issue when it comes to heart health—which is absolutely true. Managing a healthy heart by focusing on cholesterol numbers alone isn’t good medicine. That said, there are several aspects of your blood lipids that are critically important.
First, you want a healthy ratio of triglycerides-to-HDL cholesterol, ideally no more than a 2:1 ratio. You also want to watch how much oxidized cholesterol you have, since that’s critical for cardiovascular health. Plus, it’s extremely important to have a healthy inflammatory response inside your body—since, in many ways, I believe that’s even more important than cholesterol.
But what may surprise you is that these aspects of heart health aren’t just influenced by your cardiovascular system, but by the bacteria in your gut. Amazingly, these two very different areas of your body—your gut and your heart—have a very close relationship. So, keeping your gut bacteria in balance is critical to the health of your heart.
How Does the Heart-Gut Connection Work?
First off, your gut is where cholesterol in the foods you eat is metabolized and absorbed. There are certain bacteria in your gut that help to take that cholesterol and metabolize it in a way that helps to keep your body’s cholesterol levels in the healthy range.
Scientists have suggested that gut bacteria also help to regulate your body’s cholesterol levels by ensuring you’re metabolizing and producing the right amount of bile salts needed for digestion. Plus, they may help to produce short-chain chain fatty acids (SCFA) that help maintain healthy levels of cholesterol that is produced by your liver.
There are also specific bacteria that support a healthy inflammatory response in your body, which is critical for heart health. Simply put, they help to support healthy levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an important inflammatory marker.
Unfortunately, Many Lifestyle Factors Disrupt Our Gut
For a healthy heart, you want your gut to have a wide diversity and balance of bacteria. Unfortunately, numerous factors can disrupt this balance.
One of the biggest threats is the overuse of antibiotics, which disrupt the balance of bacteria in our guts. Plus, everything from chlorine in our tap water, to sugars in the foods we eat, stomach acid-reducing proton pump inhibitors, and more can cause “dysbiosis”—meaning an imbalance of gut bacteria. When this happens, it allows unhealthy bacteria to take over, impacting your digestion, immune system, and your heart.
That’s Why I Highly Recommend Taking Heart-Supporting Probiotics
When it comes to heart nutrients, I follow the top literature from around the world. Some of the best research I’ve found on heart-supporting probiotics comes from Barcelona, Spain where a group of scientists has spent more than a decade studying the microbiomes (gut bacterial balance) of people around the world—observing that certain populations benefit from having more bacterial diversity.
They honed in on the Lactobacillus plantarum strains of bacteria, which are some of the heartiest strains—meaning they’re able to survive the harsh GI tract and are almost twice as good as some other well-regarded probiotic strains at adhering to the intestinal walls, which indicates their prowess as probiotics.
Using an extremely rigorous screening process, the researchers analyzed 550 strains of Lactobacillus plantarum probiotics, identifying three strains (CECT 7527, 7528, and 7529) that specifically target heart health. In clinical studies, they’ve been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels, including total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL, and oxidized LDL levels in the blood.
Plus, they identified two additional strains of Lactobacillus plantarum probiotics (KABP-031 and KABP-032) that support healthy levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an important marker of inflammatory health, in addition to supporting immune function. To me, this is a home run since it targets all the heart markers that are affected by your gut!
Additionally, a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial demonstrated that the KABP-031 and KABP-032 probiotic strains help to support healthy levels of cholesterol and healthy levels of CRP—a marker of inflammatory health.
How Can You Get These “Heart Probiotics?”
I strongly believe that taking heart-supporting probiotics is critical to good health—especially given all of the factors that can disrupt our gut bacteria. That’s why I included them in my new probiotic supplement, called CardioSenseTM Probiotic.
It includes not only the probiotics that support your heart but blends that support your digestive health and comfort and a healthy immune response and immune function—all of which are critical to your overall health.
Fuentes, M.C., et al. 2012. Cholesterol-lowering efficacy of Lactobacillus plantarum CECT 7527, 7528 and 7529 in hypercholesterolaemic adults