High blood pressure leads to many serious problems such as heart disease. So what is the best way to lower your blood pressure? Researchers on this topic say the method is quite simple. They find that eating yogurt, or probiotics, can significantly reduce your blood pressure.

Reuters reports on a new study linking yogurt to lowered blood pressure.

Experts found that study participants significantly reduced their blood pressure numbers by eating yogurt and other probiotics rich foods.

Scientists found that consuming probiotics, or the beneficial bacteria in yogurt, milk and cheese, helps control blood pressure. The study was a review of past studies. Experts saw that taking in the proper amount of probiotics over at least two months time appeared to lower blood pressure a significant amount.

The new study was a review of nine former studies on the topic. Around 550 people participated in all of them. Reuters explains, “Seven of the trials were double-blind, meaning neither the participants nor the experimenters knew who received probiotics and who received a probiotic-free placebo until the end of the study. The different strains of probiotics were delivered in products like yogurt and milk.”

Experts are calling probiotics a good alternative to blood pressure medication. Doctors prescribe blood pressure medication to countless people across the United States every day. But these medications have side effects and therefore if people can use natural remedies, such as consuming more probiotics, to reduce their blood pressure then experts say this is a better alternative.

What were the study’s results? “The researchers found that on average, probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 3.56 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 2.38 mm Hg, compared to a placebo or no treatment,” according to Reuters.

The researchers noted that many Americans have difficulty accepting the fact that probiotics can be helpful because it is essentially a bacterium. But experts say it is truly advantageous for lowering blood pressure and more people should indulge in it. Even if a person has not developed high blood pressure yet, they could develop it later on; but if they start a diet of regularly consuming probiotics they could stave it off for some time.

Time magazine also revealed the many benefits of eating probiotics through yogurt and other foods. Time also explained how probiotics bacteria particularly help to fight high blood pressure.

“What do bacteria have to do with blood pressure? The researchers say that the micro-organisms could be helping to address hypertension in a variety of ways, from lowering cholesterol levels, which can contribute to less fatty buildup in the vessels and therefore reduce the chances of developing hypertension, to controlling blood sugar and keeping the enzymes and proteins that control blood flow and fluid volumes in check,” according to Time.

What do experts think? One expert, who was not involved in the study, commented on it telling Reuters,

“Randomized clinical trials (like the ones used in this study) are the gold standard in research and they had a strict criteria for choosing the studies and they actually looked at human trials which are stronger than animal trials. They used real foods that had probiotics at realistic levels; they didn’t use supplements or wacky chemical concoctions that no one has heard of. They used foods on the market so you and I could go into the market and pick (them) up. Our gut is home to many bacteria and if bumping up the amount of good bacteria can optimize health and prevent chronic diseases then that’s a good thing.”

But Dr. Doron, from Tufts Medical Center, is not so sure that she wants to change her treatment/advice plan for patients just yet. Dr. Doron has also studied probiotics at Tufts. She told Reuters, “The fact that each study within this meta-analysis was done using a different probiotic or combination of probiotics means that I as a physician am completely unable to say to my patient, ‘Go out and buy probiotic X. It was shown to be effective in clinical trials. We know no two probiotics act alike. One simply cannot extrapolate from a study of one probiotic that another strain or even another dose or another source - dairy product, capsule, sachet, etc. - will work.”

However, Dr. Doron did have a positive comment as well for those who want to try the probiotic plan/alternative. She said, “Probiotics might help, and generally don't hurt, except perhaps your wallet, so if someone with high blood pressure wants to try probiotics as an adjunct to their regular blood pressure medication, I say go for it.”

CBS news suggests that people who cannot take probiotics through yogurt can also try probiotic supplements. This is a good idea for those who are lactose intolerant and cannot consume things like yogurt, milk and cheese, which are rich in probiotics. But there are also a few nondairy foods that are also rich in probiotics such as sauerkraut and pickles.

Is the amount of bacteria you are eating significant? Yes. CBS explains, “The bacteria load in the supplement also appears to be important. Pills with less than 109 colony-forming units of bacteria had less of an impact on blood pressure than those with at least or more than 109 units of bacteria.”

Dr. Reynolds from NYU endorsed the study and the use of probiotics telling CBS, “Over a large group of people, when you look at a population, a lower blood pressure by even two or three points can have an impact on important things: the risk of stroke, death and heart attack. So we take very seriously a small decrease in blood pressure. Sometimes if people change their diet, exercise more, and probiotic is part of that healthy eating plan, they can avoid medicine, and I love to see that.”

Overall the authors of the study found that probiotics lower blood pressure by aiding in improving general cholesterol and lipoprotein levels. ‘Good’ bacteria in a person’s gut is also linked to successful weight loss, healthy skin and relief of chronic pain therefore giving people more reason to indulge in probiotics. 

Gerry Oginski
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