February 27, 2020
Dr. Jim Logan is the first-ever member of the Plexus® Medical Board. He is certified in Aerospace Medicine and enjoyed a 22-year career at NASA Space Center with such esteemed positions as Chief of Flight Medicine and Chief of Medical Operations.
Dr. Logan has decades of experience in weight loss and gut health, and he is passionate about using his knowledge and expertise to advance the Plexus product offering with top-quality products, like his favorite, Plexus Lean™.
In honor of American Heart Month, I wanted to take a closer look at the relationship between the heart and the gut – specifically the gut microbiome.
Using rational application of scientific method, good experimental design, and an increasing understanding of the vast complexities of physiology, genetics, and surprising new discoveries about the interactions of human biology with the gut microbiota (biome) the connection between the gut microbiome and many diseases, including heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity is becoming clearer and clearer.
Before diving into the nitty gritty of the gut-heart connection, let’s get an understanding of the key players.
The Gut Microbiome
The gut microbiome is a collection of several trillion bacteria located in the human gastrointestinal tract.1 Scientists have been aware for a while this powerful system is responsible for far more than digestion and metabolism, but we are still grasping the extent to which the gut microbiome can positively or negatively interact with the rest of the body to maintain homeostasis.
Heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide and has been for the last fifteen years. What is surprising is the degree to which heart disease can be substantially prevented by healthy lifestyle choices, yet it remains the top killer.
The Gut – Heart Connection
Millions of years of co-evolution has created a complex and codependent symbiotic relationship between gut microbes and the heart. The incredibly diverse ecosystem of the gut microbiome contributes to the overall well-being of its host – us. It is therefore not a stretch to say that the reverse is also true.
The microbiota contains beneficial bacteria that aid in the function of the heart and all the other organs in the body. Along with the beneficial bacteria there are also unwanted bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms. All of these microbes have their own unique genes and these genes create a variety of substances and metabolites that are absorbed into the blood stream affecting the health of the host – for better or for worse.
Gut Microbiome and Heart Disease
More and more evidence is showing that bacteria in our gut can affect risk factors for heart disease.1-3 There are strong indicators that the gut microbiome influences individual propensity for obesity or type 2 diabetes. The gut microbiome also affects levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the blood, as well as, levels of blood pressure.2 Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure are some of the leading risks of heart disease that research has shown to be modulated by gut microbiota and its metabolites.
A recent study has found that the gut microbiome can affect the formation of atherosclerotic plaque in the arteries of the heart. Rupture of such plaque is the most common cause of heart attack.2 Even without rupture, plaque can reduce the ability of the artery to widen and increase the tendency of the artery to clot.
Next-generation sequencing techniques, together with bioinformatics technology, broaden our knowledge of the complex human gut microbiome and bring to light the role this bacterial ecosystem in heart disease through the functional analysis of the gut microbiome.2
With continued efforts and trials, eventually, studies of the gut-heart connection may open the door for the development of further diagnostics and therapeutics for prevention and management of heart disease.
How You Can Support American Heart Month
Wear red on the first Friday of February for National Wear Red Day! Check out the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s shareables to spread the word!
Donate to the American Heart Association and help fund the innovative research that helps save millions of lives.
Get social and join the #OurHearts Movement! #OurHearts is an inspiring way to encourage people across the country to join together with friends, family, coworkers and others in their community to prevent heart disease. Share your stories, your hopes, and your heart.
Show your heart some love this February.
– Dr. James Logan, Medical Advisory Board with Plexus Worldwide®
posted 5 months ago