According to research published in the American Heart Association journal, Hypertension, regularly consuming probiotics improves blood pressure in a modest amount. Currently two thirds of Americans are pre-hypertensive or fully hypertensive which means this research is very useful. High blood pressure is a major health concern, with tens of thousands of American deaths each year directly related to high blood pressure. Hypertension often leads to heart disease and stroke, which are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in the USA. If we could even partially help those with high blood pressure with something as simple as probiotic supplementation, the effects could prove to be far-reaching.
Jing Sun, Ph.D., lead author and senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia states: “The small collection of studies we looked at suggest regular consumption of probiotics can be part of a healthy lifestyle to help reduce high blood pressure, as well as maintain healthy blood pressure levels. This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements.”
Probiotics Improves Blood Pressure: What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are microorganisms (good bacteria) that offer health benefits to the host – they can be found in various different foods and also in supplement form. Probiotics are believed to play very important roles in regulating proper intestinal function and digestion – by balancing intestinal microflora. See Health Benefits of Probiotics.
Probiotics Improves Blood Pressure: What Researchers Found
Researchers found the following results of nine high-quality studies which examined blood pressure and probiotics consumption in 543 adults with normal and elevated blood pressure:
- Probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average 3.56 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (the lower number) by an average 2.38 mm Hg, compared to adults who didn’t consume probiotics.
- The 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.
- Consuming probiotics for less than eight weeks didn’t lower systolic or diastolic blood pressure.
- Probiotic consumption with a daily bacteria volume of 109-10 12 colony-forming units (CFU) may improve blood pressure. Consumption with less than 109 CFU didn’t lower blood pressure. CFU is the amount of bacteria or the dose of probiotics in a product.
- Probiotics with multiple bacteria lowered blood pressure more than those with a single bacteria.
Dr. Sun commented: “We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance.”
“The studies looking at probiotics and blood pressure tend to be small,” Sun said. “Moreover, two studies had a short duration of three to four weeks of probiotic consumption, which might have affected the overall results of the analysis.
Additional studies are needed before doctors can confidently recommend probiotics for high blood pressure control and prevention, she said.
S. Khalesi, J. Sun, N. Buys, R. Jayasinghe. Effect of Probiotics on Blood Pressure: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized, Controlled Trials. Hypertension, 2014; DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03469
American Heart Association. “Eating probiotics regularly may improve your blood pressure.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 July 2014.