More studies are showing that not all bacteria are bad. In fact, there is growing evidence that some bacteria are good for people’s health, potentially relieving symptoms and conditions. A new study, for example, found that bacteria, particularly probiotics found in certain types of yogurts, cheeses or supplements, could help battle and lower high blood pressure.
As published in the journal Hypertension, researchers found that consuming probiotics regularly for at least two months appears to have a positive impact on blood pressure. The effects were greater for those with higher blood pressure before adding the macrobiotics to their diets and those who consumed higher doses or multiple probiotic strains. The researchers conducted a meta-analysis using data from nine studies that evaluated the impact of probiotics on blood pressure. They concluded that people who consume probiotics typically have lower blood pressure than those who do not consume them.
There are three types of “biotics” commonly discussed as benefial in food: probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics. According to the World Health Organization, probiotics are live micro-organisms which confer a health benefit when taken in adequate amounts. They help people suffering from diarrhea brought on by infections, inflammatory bowel issues as well as asthma, Type 1 diabetes and more. Prebiotics, which stimulate the growth of probiotics, are found in oats, wheat, some fruits and vegetables. Synbiotics are actually a combination of the other two and can be found in kefir, yogurt, some fermented foods and some cheeses.
The nine studies that dealt with probiotics discussed in the article involved 550 participants. Seven of the studies were double-blind investigations, i.e. neither the participants or the researchers knew which people received probiotics or which received placebos. The probiotics were delivered to each group in dairy products.
The studies showed that probiotic consumption did battle high blood pressure and, in fact, lowered systolic blood pressure by 3.56 mm Hg and diastolic by 2.38 mm Hg, on average. Those who received a placebo or no treatment did not have similar changes.
However, the researchers caution that the results should not be interpreted that probiotics are a prescription for treating hypertension, according to Jing Sum, who worked on the meta-analysis study in Queensland, Australia, at Griffith University School of Medicine and the Griffith Health Institute. However, they do show that incorporating a probiotic regimen can help with addressing and managing high blood pressure.
The studies also showed that it was important to get at least 100 billion units of probiotics daily for the improvements. Additionally, they found that it took at least eight weeks to see results. While some participants in the study received the probiotics through food, some also did via supplements. The price of probiotic supplements is typically $30 for a 30-day supply from a drugstore, but pricing does vary.
More questions about the use and impact of probiotics still need to be answered, according to researchers, such as which micro-organisms, types of biotics or combinations have the strongest effect on blood pressure. Establishing the correct threshold of microbes and the volume are essential before any serious advice from physicians about using probiotics to battle high blood pressure should be given.
By Dyanne Weiss