According to research published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension, regularly consuming probiotics improves blood pressure in a modest amount. Currently two-thirds of Americans are pre-hypertensive or fully hypertensive which means this research is very useful. High blood pressure is a major health concern, with tens of thousands of American deaths each year directly related to high blood pressure. Hypertension often leads to heart disease and stroke, which are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the USA. If we could even partially help those with high blood pressure with something as simple as probiotic supplementation, the effects could prove to be far-reaching.
Jing Sun, Ph.D., lead author and senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia states: “The small collection of studies we looked at suggest regular consumption of probiotics can be part of a healthy lifestyle to help reduce high blood pressure, as well as maintain healthy blood pressure levels. This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements.”
Probiotics Improves Blood Pressure: What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are microorganisms (good bacteria) that offer health benefits to the host – they can be found in various different foods and also in supplement form. Probiotics are believed to play very important roles in regulating proper intestinal function and digestion – by balancing intestinal microflora.
Probiotics Improves Blood Pressure: What Researchers Found
Researchers found the following results of nine high-quality studies which examined blood pressure and probiotics consumption in 543 adults with normal and elevated blood pressure:
- Probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average 3.56 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by an average 2.38 mm Hg, compared to adults who didn’t consume probiotics.
- The positive effects from probiotics on diastolic blood pressure were greatest in people whose blood pressure was equal to or greater than 130/85, which is considered elevated.
- Consuming probiotics for less than eight weeks didn’t lower systolic or diastolic blood pressure.
- Probiotic consumption with a daily bacteria volume of 109-10 12 colony-forming units (CFU) may improve blood pressure. Consumption with less than 109 CFU didn’t lower blood pressure. CFU is the amount of bacteria or the dose of probiotics in a product.
- Probiotics with multiple bacteria lowered blood pressure more than those with a single bacteria.
Dr. Sun commented: “We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance. The studies looking at probiotics and blood pressure tend to be small. Moreover, two studies had a short duration of three to four weeks of probiotic consumption, which might have affected the overall results of the analysis.”
Update 2018: An animal study published in 2017 found the probiotic lactobacillus marinus effectively prevents salt-sensitive hypertension by modulating TH17 cells. (Other research has found high salt intake inhibits lactobacillus marinus, thereby contributing to hypertension.) According to the authors:
“In line with these findings, a moderate high-salt challenge in a pilot study in humans reduced intestinal survival of lactobacillus spp., increased TH17 cells and increased blood pressure. Our results connect high salt intake to the gut–immune axis and highlight the gut microbiome as a potential therapeutic target to counteract salt-sensitive conditions.”
Probiotics Can Effect Your Health in Many Ways
Escalating research indicates your gut microbiome has a profound influence on your overall health and well-being. Apart from lowering blood pressure, beneficial bacteria have been shown to:
- Regulate your immune response and boost immune activity
- Assist your body in producing vitamins and absorbing minerals
- Aid in pesticide detoxification
- Manage asthma and reduce risk of allergies
- Lower your possibility for periodontal disease by more than 50%
- Have an effect on the activity of hundreds of genes, helping them to express in a positive, disease-fighting manner
- Benefit mood and mind
- Improve weight loss and lower the risk of obesity
- Reduce children’s risk of behavioral issues and autism
- Reduce your risk for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve quality of sleep
- Adjust your risk for certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer. Butyrate which is a short-chain fatty acid created when microbes ferment dietary fiber in your gut has been shown to induce programmed cell death of colon cancer cells, and cultured milk products may reduce your risk of bladder cancer by about 29%
- Protect against malnutrition
- Boost growth factor hormone production
- Curtail the number and length of infections suffered by athletes
- Prevent and manage vaginitis in women
- Lower possibility of premature labor in pregnant women
- Lower danger of inflammatory bowel disease
- Lower risk for recurrent bladder and ear infections
- Improve and prevent chronic diarrhea
In my opinion, the many health benefits of probiotics cannot be stressed enough. Chronic stress, unhealthy diet, contaminated food and water, rounds of antibiotics as well as numerous other factors can alter that delicate balance between the good and bad microorganisms that reside in your intestinal tract. While supplementing with foods that contain probiotics is always a good idea, some people will not get the full benefits because of an already impaired digestive tract. For the reasons above, I highly recommend including high quality probiotics every day. See 12 Reasons Why You Should Take Probiotics Everyday.
S. Khalesi, J. Sun, N. Buys, R. Jayasinghe. Effect of Probiotics on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Trials. Hypertension, 2014; DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03469
American Heart Association. “Eating probiotics regularly may improve your blood pressure.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2014.