On Monday, I showed you how antibiotics could be causing kidney stones. Now there's evidence that antibiotics could be even more dangerous. They could harden your arteries and cause heart attacks.
How is that possible? Isn't cholesterol to blame for hardened arteries? Conventional medicine website emedicinehealth.com says, "Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) is a disorder in which arteries (blood vessels that carry oxygenated blood from the heart to other parts of the body) become narrowed because fat (cholesterol deposits called atherosclerosis) is first deposited on the inside walls of the arteries, then becomes hardened by fibrous tissue and calcification (arteriosclerosis)." Turns out cholesterol isn't the problem, it might be part of the solution.
Linus Pauling said decades ago that cholesterol is a nutrient. When it builds up on your artery walls, it's trying to repair the damage done by some other mechanism (Pauling believed it was vitamin C deficiency). Well, now we know that mechanism starts in your gut.
We've known for some time that a lack of diversity or range of healthy bacteria in the gut can cause a variety of health problems, including diabetes, obesity, and inflammatory stomach and bowel diseases. But now a study says dysfunction in your gut bacteria can cause hardening of the arteries.
This is the first time any research has officially connected gut bacteria and arterial stiffening, though some doctors have suspected it for years.
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To conduct the study, the researchers examined medical data from a group of 617 middle-aged female twins from the TwinsUK registry. This is a national registry of adult twins recruited as volunteers for data-based research. The researchers measured arterial stiffening by using a gold-standard measure called carotid-femoral pulse-wave velocity (PWV). They found that there was a significant correlation in all the women between the diversity of the microbes in the gut and the health of their arteries.
Unfortunately, the study didn't explain why your gut bacteria affect your arteries, but the assumption is that it causes some kind of damage to the vessels. We know that the gut bacteria problem also creates more cholesterol in your blood. Perhaps it oxidizes cholesterol (the most dangerous cholesterol) and causes it to damage the arteries. Maybe it causes a vitamin C deficiency, as Pauling suggested, because of poor digestion and absorption. If that's the case, good cholesterol could be building up to help heal this damage. It could even be some combination of these and other factors. Hopefully further studies will explain this more clearly.
While the study didn't discuss the role of antibiotics in destroying gut bacteria, everyone knows they are a major culprit in changing gut bacteria populations. The study also didn't implicate antibiotics as a cause of hardening of the arteries, but the connection is obvious. However, it's not the only culprit. What you eat can affect these bacteria populations as well. You need to make sure you eat plenty of fiber to feed the good bacteria.
If you're not eating enough fiber, there's a tasty way to add it to your diet. Bhu Fit bars contain 10 grams of fiber (about one-third of your daily requirement) and can help replenish the good bacteria in your gut. Taken with a good probiotic, you can take steps today to avoid stiff arteries and the heart attacks they can cause.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.