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Link Discovered Between Gut Bacteria and Heart Health Risk Factors

The most common recommendations for improving heart health include eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising, quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption. Now a study has found that the bacteria living in our gut may have an effect on weight, fat, and good cholesterol levels, all of which influence cardiovascular health.

Participants the in the study included 893 people in the Netherlands. The researchers used state-of-the-art deep sequencing technology to uncover the association between gut microbes and blood lipid levels. They found 34 different bacteria that contribute to differences in body fat and blood lipids such as triglycerides and HDL cholesterol. Most of these were new associations.

Additionally, they found that bacteria in the gut was directly linked to a 4.6% difference in body fat, a 6% difference in triglycerides and 4% difference in HDL cholesterol levels. However, gut bacteria did not appear to have a strong association with LDL cholesterol or total cholesterol levels.

The researchers believe that this initial research could potentially open the door to therapies that alter gut bacteria in order to improve body weight, fat, and cholesterol levels and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Researchers from University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on September 10, 2015, in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research.

Only 30% of the human gut bacteria has been mapped but previous studies have found that having a varied composition of bacteria in your digestive system is essential for good gut health and for good health overall. If you’re looking to improve gut bacteria diversity, consider taking a prebiotic or probiotic supplement. A recent study also found that exercise may help boost gut bacteria diversity.

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