The Heart-Gut Connection - Takeaways and Replays
Revisit (or take a first look) at the surprising ways your oral and gut microbiomes can reveal and directly impact your heart health.
Your guide on this replay is Dr. Grant Antoine, N.D., who also notes conventional wisdom about cholesterol is outdated, and low-fat diets can be counterproductive—but not for the reasons you might think.
Not enough time to watch the replay? Check out these key moments from this webinar (and for the full session, find the link below, to watch or listen without leaving the page).
Not to miss moments from this live event:
Your gut microbes make good things for your heart
Grant: "Metabolites matter for our heart health. We talk a lot about short-chain fatty acids: butyrate, acetate, propionate. I think we think of them for gut lining and gut health in general, but they [also] act as signaling molecules. They bind to receptors. When these short-chain fatty acids are abundant, and they're coming into circulation and they're binding on [receptor] cells, they're reducing the production of cytokines and they're inhibiting NF kappa B. That action helps regulate cellular stress and immune response. Short-chain fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, not just from the molecules themselves, but from the signaling that they're causing downstream."*
Our bodies can also turn "good" gut function against us
"TMAO is an important metabolite. Our microbes produce TMA from choline and carnitine. They produce TMA gas, which then goes to our liver, where we convert that into TMAO. It's a significant cardiovascular risk factor. It increases blood clotting; it accelerates plaque formation. Those arterial plaques that are the root of heart issues."
Our oral microbiome can help regulate our blood pressure
"The oral microbiome has a direct effect on cardiovascular health. Our microbes are able to take nitrate [from food] and convert it to nitric oxide, which plays a role in blood pressure regulation. They’ve even done studies with people that use antimicrobial mouth washes, these disinfectant style mouth washes, and they really kill off all these bacteria in the mouth. What do we see? We see increases in blood pressure. Certainly there's a time in place for those antimicrobial rinses. They're a tool. But maybe it isn't something we should be bringing into our daily routine if we already have good oral health."
Leaky gums put heart health at risk
"The state of our overall oral health has a tremendous impact on our heart health. Inflammatory conditions like gingivitis and periodontitis, they contribute to systemic inflammation, not only from upregulation of inflammatory pathways, but also because they allow the movement of microbes and metabolites from the mouth across these leaky gums. We think a lot about the gut, but it's the same situation in the mouth with the gums. And if that barrier's compromised, you've got these microbes and metabolites coming into circulation."
Our understanding of cholesterol is changing
"Low density lipoprotein is called the bad cholesterol. HDL is the good cholesterol…. That's kind of an old-school way of thinking. The protective nature of HDL is really not panning out the way we thought. But we do know LDL particles are the most pro-plaque-building. They have the propensity—especially the smaller particles—to get into that lining of our blood vessels and get embedded, where later they accumulate and cause immune activation.
"So there's more to cholesterol than simply your cholesterol level. Certainly, the amount of cholesterol you have in your bloodstream plays a role, but … it might not be nearly as important as other factors that contribute to heart disease…. There are a lot of people out there today with normal cholesterol right now that will have a heart attack today."
Low-fat dieting can lead to worse habits for your heart
"People pull out fat, but do they just keep on going? No. What are they going to replace it with? They're going to replace it with carbohydrate sugar. And it turns out sugar is even worse for heart disease. But bringing in fiber and replacing saturated fats with foods high in polyunsaturated fats … that's the best evidence-based tool we have for reducing your risk for heart disease."
Summary on the Takeaways:
Your gut microbes help keep your heart healthy: Your gut microbiome, when fed the right foods, especially high-fiber foods like artichokes, sunchokes, leeks, apples, and more, produce metabolites like butyrate, acetate, and propionate. These short-chain fatty acids help regulate cellular stress and immune response, aiding in supporting your heart health.*
Our bodies can also turn "good" gut function against us: TMAO, also known as trimethylamine N-oxide, is a metabolite that is produced when certain foods with choline (like eggs, shellfish, red meat) are consumed by your microbes and TMA (trimethylamine) is created. TMA travels to your liver where it is oxidized into TMAO. High levels of TMAO can equate to a higher risk of heart issues and stroke.
Our oral microbiome can help regulate our blood pressure: You may want to rethink your choice of mouthwashes that have antibacterial or disinfecting properties. Using these regularly can kill off much of your oral microbiome, including the good nitrate-converting oral bacteria which help regulate blood pressure.
Leaky gums put heart health at risk: Keep up regular brushing, flossing and tongue scraping, as well as your 6 month visits with your dentist. They will be able to let you know if less than healthy oral conditions are starting to creep up on you, which can contribute to unhealthy “leaky gums.”
Our understanding of cholesterol is changing: The traditional understanding of LDL cholesterol being “bad” and HDL being “good” is changing as we find out more about other factors that contribute to heart health along with cholesterol levels.
Low-fat dieting can lead to worse habits for your heart: Going completely fat-free in your diet may sound like a good idea, but when you take a look at the ingredients that are added to advertised “fat-free” foods, it’s not so healthy. Sugars, artificial or otherwise, flavor enhancers, additives, and preservatives are all not good for anyone’s microbiome, or heart health. Good fats (like olive oil, avocados, ghee, and high fat foods like salmon) not only give you great building blocks of nutrition, but in moderation, they help regulate healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels and lower the risk for heart disease.* Another nutrient to be sure to get enough of is fiber from whole foods like beans, broccoli, berries, and whole grains. High fiber can also help regulate healthy cholesterol and blood sugar levels for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system.*
Want MORE? Watch our full replay from “The Heart - Gut Connection” right here: