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One Major Effect Gut Health Has on Your Blood Pressure, New Study Says

If you're amazed to learn the different ways a healthy digestive microbiome affects your overall health, a new study will intrigue you. A European research team has found that a gut with balanced levels of microbiota is linked to lower blood pressure. Here's the food to consider adding to your diet to benefit from both.

In a study published last month in the journal Hypertension, a group of biology, epidemiology, and public health researchers from Germany and Northern Ireland say they were the first to assess an interesting connection. They used a sample of 904 participants in Northern Germany to understand to what extent the gut microbiome's composition is related to lower blood pressure, aware of past evidence that both the gut and blood pressure are affected by the consumption of foods that contain flavonoids.

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Flavonoids are compounds found in many natural foods that contain antioxidants, like apples, pears, grapes, berries, chocolate, tea, and wine. WebMD notes that flavonoids have been found to help prevent illnesses like cancer, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and heart disease.

In the current study, the researchers analyzed participants' intake of berries, apples, pears, and red wine to conclude that "microbial factors explained 15.2% to the association between flavonoid-rich foods and clinically relevant lower [systolic blood pressure]." (Systolic blood pressure is the measure of pressure in the arteries when the heart pumps blood out.)

Aedín Cassidy, PhD, the study's co-author and director for interdisciplinary research at the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University Belfast, told Verywell Health: "What we eat plays a critical role in shaping our gut microbiome . . . Unlike many other food constituents, the flavonoids are predominantly metabolized in the gut."

Cassidy also explained that science has found other systemic benefits of a healthy gut, citing a 2017 study that discovered a connection between an unhealthy gut and increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

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