Gut Bacteria: Heart Health Influenced By Microbes

First Posted: Sep 11, 2015 06:32 PM EDT

You know the saying that a "man's heart is through his stomach?" Well, there's some truth that, but unfortunately, scientists aren't referring to romance in this case.

A recent study shows that the bacteria and other microbes swimming around in our gut can ultimately impact our overall health. But what does this mean exactly? Well, it means a lot of things. It means that our gut bacteria can ultimately increase health risks ranging from cancer to an increased risk of mental health issues.

Researchers at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands worked with state-of-the-art deep sequencing technology to examine the association between gut microbes and blood lipid levels in 893 people, according to CBS News.

Thirty-four types of bacteria were identified in playing a role in the differences in body fat (BMI) and blood lipids, including triglycerides and the good cholesterol, otherwise known as high-density lipoprotein (HDL).

Researchers estimated that the composition of a person's gut bacteria community may explain close to 4 percent of the variations seen in an individual's HDL "good" cholesterol levels, according to Live Science. Furthermore, it may also explain close to 5 percent of the difference seen in people's body weight and even 6 percent of variation in people's triglycerides (blood fats.) They also found this to be true after taking numerous other factors into account, including genetics, gender and age.

"The study provides solid evidence for a role of gut microbes in body mass index (BMI) and blood lipids," said Jingyuan Fu, an associate professor of genetics at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands and lead author of the new study, in a news release

Researchers noted that the more diverse your gut microbe are, the better. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to improve the problem, including eating a more balanced diet of fruits and vegetables, less red meat and more fiber. Prebiotics and probiotics are also helpful. Talk to your doctor about what's right for you. 

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