Can Probiotics Lower Blood Pressure?

probioticsContributed by: Sonal Hill, MS, RD, LD

A new study in the journal Hypertension, examined the link between probiotics and blood pressure. People who consumed probiotics for more than two months had an average reduction in systolic blood pressure (the top number in a reading) of about 3.6 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and an average reduction in diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) of about 2.4 mm Hg, compared to those who did not consume probiotics. Researchers looked at data from nine studies involving a total of 543 adults with either normal or elevated blood pressure.

The study indicated greater benefits among people with elevated blood pressure (higher than 130/85), and probiotics with multiple types of bacteria lowered blood pressure more than those with a single type of bacteria.

Probiotics are bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines. The normal human digestive tract contains probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. They can be found in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, as well as supplements.

Many people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill “good” (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria and prevent diarrhea.

While the study could not prove cause and effect, it indicated an association between increased probiotic intake and lower blood pressure readings. The study authors stressed that further research is needed before doctors can advise patients to take probiotics to lower their blood pressure, but adding probiotics helps the digestive system and provides other gastrointestinal and immune benefits.

Working with nutrition experts to develop the right nutritional plan for your needs is a great first step to get you on the right path. Whether blood pressure or digestion is of concern to you, it’s important that treatment is guided by the latest research and integrated into your treatment plan.

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