Fermented foods and probiotic drinks may be the latest fad in hipster health, but a new study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation Research, has found bacteria living in the gut may impact your weight, fat and good cholesterol levels -- all factors which affect the health of your heart.
This research couldn’t come soon enough as one Australian dies every 12 minutes from the largely preventable cardiovascular disease.
Researchers from the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands used ‘next generation’ deep sequencing technology to study the association between gut microbes and blood lipid levels.
"Our study provides new evidence that microbes in the gut are strongly linked to the blood level of HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides and may be added as a new risk factor for abnormal blood lipids, in addition to age, gender, BMI and genetics," said Jingyuan Fu, PhD, study lead author and associate professor of genetics at Groningen.
The study also found that 34 unique types of bacteria contributed to differences in bodyfat percentage and blood lipids such as triglyceride, as well as a good cholesterol known as high-density lipoprotein or HDL.
So, how can you ensure your gut microbiome is happy?
Nutritionist Dr Joanna McMillan told The Huffington Post Australia that -- you guessed it -- diet and lifestyle are key.
“Fibre is really important. Not just one type, but all three -- insoluble fibre, soluble fibre and resistant starch. So you’re looking at things like whole grains for your insoluble fibre, fresh fruit and veg for soluble fibre and then legumes to get resistant starch,” she said.
Dr McMillan also said keeping active and drinking lots of water was vital to stimulate your gut.
Nutritionist Lyndi Polivnick told HuffPost Australia that your gut health affects not only your heart but all aspects of your health, from anxiety to depression to bowel cancer.
“Taking a probiotic can be really helpful to balance the good and bad bacteria -- you want the good bacteria to be greater than the bad bacteria or you get some issues,” she said.
And you don’t need to take expensive supplements or ferment Kombucha in your kitchen -- a serve of pot set Greek yogurt each day will do the trick!