Monday - Thursday: 9am - 4pm Friday: 9am - 1pm Weekend: Refresh

Probiotics for High Blood Pressure

Probiotics are products containing the "friendly" bacteria that normally inhabit the human intestinal tract, where these beneficial microbes help complete the digestive process. Some of these microbes actually produce vitamins, and evidence suggests that without them, the immune system doesn't function optimally, compromising resistance to infection. The latest word on probiotics is that they may also help lower blood pressure. A new analysis of nine earlier randomized controlled trials found that regularly taking probiotics led to reductions in systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average of 3.56 millimeters of mercury and diastolic pressure by 2.38. While these changes aren’t dramatic, the Australian research team that conducted the review concluded that bigger reductions may occur in people who already have high blood pressure (some of the study participants had normal blood pressure to begin with) Greater benefits might also be possible using probiotics that provide larger quantities of helpful bacteria or multiple species, or when people take probiotics for more than two months, as was the case in the studies reviewed. Positive effects from probiotics on diastolic blood pressure were greatest in people whose blood pressure was equal to or greater than 130/85, which is considered elevated. The probiotics used in the studies were primarily strains of Lactobacillus in dairy products. The study authors concluded that more research is needed before doctors can confidently recommend probiotics for control and prevention of high blood pressure.

Sources:
Jing Sun et al, “Effect of Probiotics on Blood Pressure - A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Trials,” Hypertension, doi: 10.1161/ HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03469

Probiotics for Weight Loss

Probiotics are foods or supplements containing the helpful bacteria that normally inhabit the human digestive tract, where they assist in completing digestion. Although they are usually marketed to support health of the gastrointestinal tract, a recent study performed in Canada suggests that taking probiotics can help women lose weight. The researchers noted that the intestinal flora of obese individuals differs from that of thin people, possibly because diets high in fat and low in fiber promote certain bacteria at the expense of others. For this study, they recruited 125 overweight men and women for a 12-week weight loss diet, followed by 12 weeks of weight maintenance. Throughout the study, half the participants took two pills daily containing a strain of the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus while the others received a placebo. The upshot: women in the probiotic group lost 9.7 pounds compared to only 5.7 pounds among the women on the placebo (the men in both groups lost the same amount of weight, which the researchers couldn’t explain). During the maintenance phase, the women who received the probiotics continued to lose weight for a total loss of 11.5 pounds. The researchers also measured a decrease in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin in women who took the probiotics as well as a decline in the concentration of the intestinal bacteria related to obesity.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!

Sources:
Angelo Tremblay et al, “Effect of Lactobacillus rhamnosus CGMCC1.3724 supplementation on weight loss and maintenance in obese men and women”, British Journal of Nutrition, 2013; DOI: 10.1017/S0007114513003875 

How Healthy is Your Gut?

Gut health is important for overall healthProbiotics are supplements containing the beneficial bacteria that normally inhabit the human digestive tract. They help to complete the digestive process - there's even evidence that without them, the immune system can't work properly, lessening resistance to infection. You may want to consider probiotics if one or more of the following applies to you: 

  • You are on antibiotics, which can wipe out "friendly" intestinal bacteria along with the bad bugs that cause infections.
  • You have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis.
  • You are traveling in underdeveloped countries, and want to reduce the risk of traveler's diarrhea.

Some good food sources of probiotics include:

  • Yogurt and other cultured milk products. Look for plain versions with active cultures or acidophilus milk and kefir. The sugar added to yogurt makes it similar to candy, essentially negating the health benefits.
  • Kimchi. This pungent, spicy fermented cabbage dish is popular in Korea. You can make your own, but when purchasing, make sure you choose kimchi with live cultures.
  • Miso paste. This Japanese food is a form of fermented soy used in everything from salad dressings to soup. To get the benefits of probiotics use miso paste that has not been boiled - using miso paste in a salad dressing is one way to take advantage of the taste and nutritional benefits it offers.
  • Sauerkraut. Along with other fermented vegetables such as pickles, sauerkraut offers up probiotics. Again, choose sauerkraut with live, active cultures - the refrigerated section should have some.

Unfortunately, concentrations of probiotics in the foods listed above may not be high enough to be effective, and you may want to take probiotics in liquid or capsule form. The dose is one tablespoon of the liquid culture or one to two capsules after meals unless the label directs otherwise. Always check the expiration date to make sure that the bacteria these products contain are alive and in good condition and look for probiotics with "colony forming units" (CFUs) in the billions. After you buy, be sure to protect your supply from heat, moisture, and air.

Eating Anti-Inflammatory Made Simple
Take the guesswork out of a healthful diet with Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging. Our shopping and eating guides, over 300 recipes, tips and videos follow Dr. Weil's recommended anti-inflammatory principles for promoting better health, from head to toe. See what it's about - start your free trial today and save 30% when you join!