Like many others, I understand the importance of probiotics on the digestive system and make sure I eat yogurt daily. I also have probiotics pills, but I must admit it is my last priority of the supplements I do take and usually remains in the jar. However, after my initial surprise when I saw reports on the benefits of probiotics for the cardiovascular system and heart, I had to rethink that strategy.
So what is the connection? Well, it is actually quite simple. Your immune system and your inflammatory system (inflammation) are involved in almost every process in your body. Your intestines represent a huge barrier, or on the other hand, potential source of bacteria and their byproducts entering the blood stream. Poor gut integrity can result in endotoxins (the bad stuff bacteria make) entering the blood stream and potentially getting stuck on your vessel walls. Once there, these endotoxins recruit inflammatory agents such as white blood cells, and pro-inflammatory cytokines causing oxidative stress and injury to the vessel wall. Probiotics, or better yet Prebiotics, can maintain healthy intestinal mucosa and integrity and prevent these bad bacteria and their byproducts from wreaking havoc.
There is also evidence that healthy intestinal bacteria help with cholesterol absorption, breakdown and metabolism. It has been suggested that ‘bad’ bacteria results in the formation of TMAO which inhibits the body’s ability to get rid of cholesterol. Although this has not yet been proven to decrease the risk of heart disease, the fact that TMAO levels are highest in red meat eaters and lowest in vegetarians is interesting. So in short, whether you eat enough yogurt each day or take it in a pill form, probiotics have little to no downside and great potential upside not only for your digestive system but for your heart and cardiovascular system.