In two recent studies published in ACTA PHYSIOLOGICA, researchers found that a plant-based diet may effectively prevent high blood pressure.
They found the diet may also protect against deadly preeclampsia in pregnancy.
Preeclampsia is a potentially lethal problem during pregnancy where the mother’s blood pressure, which typically was normal before, soars and organs like the kidneys and liver show signs of damage.
The study findings are from the Medical College of Georgia. One author is Dr. David L. Mattson.
Although we have all heard to avoid the saltshaker, an estimated 30-50% of us have a significant increase in blood pressure in response to high-salt intake, percentages.
The new findings provide more evidence that the gut microbiota, which contains trillions of microorganisms that help us digest food and plays a key role in regulating the response of our immune system, is also a player in the unhealthy response to salt.
The findings show more evidence of the “potential power” of nutritional intervention to improve the gut microbiota, and consequently our long-term health.
Previous studies had shown the gut microbiota plays a role in chronic diseases like hypertension.
In the study, the team hypothesized that dietary alterations shift the microbiota to mediate the development of salt-sensitive high blood pressure and renal disease.
The gut microbiome is designed to metabolize what we eat, break it down and put it in a form that gives us nutrition, and reciprocally it reflects what we eat.
They found animal protein in a diet can amplify the effects of salt.
Rats on a milk-based protein diet developed renal damage and inflammation—both indicators of high blood pressure. On the other hand, rats on a grain-based diet had much less of these unhealthy results.
When the team gave the protected rats some of the distinctive gut microbiota from the sick rats, via fecal transplant, the rats experienced increases in blood pressure and kidney damage. It also changed the composition of their gut microbiota.
In another experiment, the team found a diet high in animal protein can trigger the development of preeclampsia, while a plant-based diet reduces the risk.
The team says high blood pressure is the largest modifiable risk factor for the development of heart disease. According to the newest guidelines from groups like the American Heart Association, nearly half of us are hypertensive.
Diet—including a high-salt diet—is one of the top modifiable risk factors for high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
If you care about blood pressure health, please read studies about this common health problem linked to higher risk of high blood pressure and findings of a new way to treat high blood pressure in obese people.
For more information about high blood pressure, please see recent studies about strong blood pressure control may benefit brains of older people and results showing that pulse waves may detect problems missed by blood pressure readings.
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