If you are wanting to boost your heart function, go with your gut.
That is the result from a recent study which looked at the connection between heart disease and gut health and found a strong association.
Researchers studied about 1,200 middle-aged Europeans, some with no heart issues, and others with issues like obesity, ischemic heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. When comparing their gut bacteria, they found that those with heart issues tended to have greater disturbances in the gut microbiome.
“These major problems in the gut might begin many years prior to having any heart disease symptoms or diagnosis,” according to Oluf Pedersen, MD.
Following a diet that is plant-based can offer considerable advantages for both gut regulation and heart health, he said.
“The bacteria in the human gut is like a tropical rainforest,” he says. “We need as much diversity as possible, because when that diversity is lessened, our health can be at risk.”
Beneficial bacteria makes the immune system stronger and helps improve mood, he adds, plus many other functions from deeper sleep to reduced inflammation.
Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and fermented food can all help support the good bacteria in your gut while reducing the types of bacteria that are not good, mostly because of the amount of fiber in these foods.
For example, a recent study found that only two weeks of a high-fiber diet can lead to better nutrient absorption and provide advantages to gut health.
This kind of plant-based diet has also been shown to improve heart function directly. The American Heart Association stresses that this is true at any age, quoting one study that connected a plant-based diet in young adults to smaller risk in middle age for stroke and heart attack, and another study with similar results for postmenopausal women.
A certain amount of gut composition tends to be genetic, Pedersen says, but the important takeaway from his research and other studies is that lifestyle makes a big difference, mainly what you eat.
“You can fix some of the damage to your gut just by making a change to your dietary habits, and that will cause improvement to other organs as well, especially your brain and heart,” he says.