High blood pressure? Probiotics may help
The thought of consuming bacteria for health reasons has been a hard pill to swallow for many people. There has been much skepticism towards the benefits of probiotics or the “good bacteria” in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt.
We already know this bacteria may be healthy for our digestive and immune system, but a new study published by the American Heart Association journal Hypertension suggests that probiotics may help reduce blood pressure.
The study analyzed nine previous studies that included over 540 participants who were directed to take probiotics for at least eight weeks. At the conclusion of the trial the participants who had been on probiotics had reductions in systolic blood pressure by 3.56 mmHg as well as reductions in diastolic blood pressure by 2.38 mmHg. The biggest difference was found in participants whom were taking probiotics that had more than one type of bacteria.
The decrease in blood pressure seems to be an indirect result of probiotics having other positive effects on health. According to study author Jing Sun, probiotics improve total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, reduce blood glucose and insulin resistance, and help regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance.
The summation of these health benefits result in a decrease in blood pressure. The study found that the biggest drops in blood pressure were from participants that had the highest blood pressure to begin with.
Eating a bowl of yogurt every few days isn’t going to result in these changes, the probiotics will need to be incorporated into your diet long term.
“If not already doing so, it could be a good idea to add a little milk or yogurt to your diet,” says Dr. Jennifer DeBruler, an Advocate Medical Group physician who practices at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Ill. “Even if you aren’t looking to lower your blood pressure, there is a good chance probiotics will benefit your body in some form.”
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