Gut and Heart Health

A recent Cleveland Clinic research discovered that it might not just be certain fats and cholesterol that does the most harm to your heart, it could be how bacteria in your gut interact with the food! In fact, they believe it is possible to treat or prevent diet-induced heart disease by tweaking your gut bacteria! It has already worked in lab mice.

Dr. Stanley Hazen is quoted as saying the concept that gut bacteria contribute not only to arterial disease, but also to heart failure and chronic kidney disease, opens up exciting new nutritional and interventional prospects. I would agree as I have been advocating to my patients that the digestive system and the microbiome should be our focus for wellness.

In the past few years, scientists have dedicated millions to the investigation of the microbiome, that incredibly complex ecosystem of microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal track. The Human Microbiome Project was launched by the National Institutes of Health and is exclusively dedicated to studying how changes in the human microbiome influence health and disease.

So what is the connection between heart disease and your gut? Well, we need to have a quick chemistry lesson in order to explain that. You already know that your gut is full of bacteria that are needed for many processes including the breakdown and absorptions of nutrients. Some of these bacteria feed on carnitine and choline (found in eggs, red meat, and high-fat dairy products) and as they do they give off a chemical called TMA (trimethylamine). Your liver then turns this into TMAO (trimethylamine-N-oxide). Scary stuff, I know, but hang on. TMAO in your blood affects the inner wall of your blood vessels, causing cholesterol buildup. Staring to see the problem?

If you have elevated levels of TMAO for awhile, you have a very high risk of heart attack, stroke, or even death. In fact, levels of TMAO in your blood are a strong indicator of your risk for heart disease.

Just like everyone has a unique fingerprint, we are discovering that everyone has a unique microbiome. Everyone has a variety of different types and proportions of gut bacteria and researchers are only beginning to understand how the differences affect how food is metabolized, the body’s immune system, and the heart.

The bottom line is that if you have a digestive system that is functioning optimally, then the rest of your body is going to be happy…including your heart!

If you would like to learn more please contact my office for an appointment or visit our website: www.mimqc.com for more information.

Dr. Shah, MD