High blood pressure may be linked to gut bacteria
Recent studies have linked gut bacteria (the complex microbiome community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract) with many conditions including depression, dementia, MS and Parkinson’s.
Now new research from the University of Illinois and Brown University suggests that the bacteria in our gut may also play a factor in high blood pressure. Hardened stiff blood vessels and organ dysfunction are known factors for high blood pressure, the new research found that when certain types of gut bacteria were killed off with antibiotics, drops in blood pressure resulted.
The scientists found that a gene for an enzyme in some bacteria changed cortisol (a steroid hormone associated with stress) into another steroid known as androgen. A by product of androgen resulting in the breakdown of androgen by the gut bacteria is GALF. GALF disrupts the process that regulates the sodium that is transported out from the kidneys. This GALF molecule then allows sodium to build up in cells resulting in a rise in blood pressure.
This is just the beginning of a new chapter in understanding the role of gut bacteria and health. The researchers are continuing their work to investigate further the possibility of using our own gut bacteria along with new therapies and medicine to help prevent the high rates of death every year as a result of high blood pressure.