Is this secretly UPPING your hypertension risk?!
Every day, it seems, science uncovers something new about how the bugs that live in your belly can meddle in your health.
Sometimes, it’s in a good way… and sometimes, it can get pretty bad.
If you’ve been reading my Health eTips for a while now, you already know that when “bad” bugs outnumber the “good” guys, it can set off everything from chronic fatigue syndrome… to inflammatory bowel disease… and even Parkinson’s disease.
And according to a study, gut bacteria may also be at the root of hypertension — because certain belly bugs can touch off a chain reaction that ends with spiking your blood pressure.
How belly bugs SKYROCKET your blood pressure
We know that certain factors — like smoking, sodium, or stress — can be a recipe for BP readings that go through the roof.
One of them on its own can be bad enough… but when you add more of them, hypertension is practically a “given.”
Well, it turns out that you can add the critters in your microbiome to that list.
And if you’re already stressed, you need to know how this works inside your body!
In a study out of the University of Illinois and Brown University, researchers discovered that an enzyme in certain strains of bacteria in your gut converts cortisol — the “stress hormone” — into the type of hormones found in your adrenal glands on top of your kidneys.
The end result? That blocks your kidneys from getting rid of excess sodium, causing a buildup in your cells — which, as I just noted, is yet another risk factor for high blood pressure.
How’s that for a triple whammy?!
And that may explain why you could’ve cut your salt intake and still be struggling to keep your BP down.
That also seems to explain a mechanism behind why stressors can make your BP skyrocket.
But according to this science, if you reduce your levels of stress… and therefore lower the amount of cortisol that those bugs can get to work on… then you’ll naturally bring your BP down to a more reasonable reading.
We don’t know exactly all of the strains of gut bacteria that might be involved in this process — but if you manage to de-stress enough to keep cortisol from raging through your body, it may not actually matter that much.
Regardless, there’s an easy way to make sure you’re nurturing the good bugs in your gut while starving the bad ones: following the Paleo (a.k.a. “caveman”) diet.
It cuts out the sugars and processed foods that feed toxic bacteria and focuses instead on fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds that nourish beneficial ones.
In fact, many of these Paleo foods have been shown to reduce your risk of hypertension.
And eating like a caveman is also a great way to keep a healthy number on the scale — which studies have shown is the single best thing you can do for your blood pressure.
To Your Health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld, M.D.