Q: It seems like gut bacteria impact everything in the human body; is it true that they can affect heart health?
A: Our heart sets the rhythm to which our life unfolds—powering us through a long workday or an intense workout. It’s a bit odd to think that the bacteria living in our gut might have an impact on such a mighty muscle … but it’s true!
Much of the research is in early stages, but it’s intriguing. For example, many of us have heard that flossing is important for heart health—one possible reason is bacteria. Dysbiosis in the mouth can lead to gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, and gum disease. Bleeding gums help bacteria gain access to the bloodstream, further stoking an inflammatory response. As it turns out, a similar translocation of bacteria can occur if our gut barrier is compromised. Chronic inflammation is considered an independent risk factor for heart disease, so ensuring a healthy community of gut bacteria is very important to keep inflammation at bay. Taking a clinical strength liquid probiotic is great for your gut—and future research may also confirm that it is great for your heart.
Another key focus of research is bacterial-derived TMAO. Research has shown that those with omnivorous diets may harbor a type of bacteria that can convert the carnitine and phosphatidylcholine found in animal products into trimethylamine (TMA), which is quickly converted into another substance called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO is strongly associated with heart disease risk … so if you needed one more reason to go plant based, you’ve got it!