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Probiotics May Reduce Blood Pressure — Even if You Eat a Salty Diet


Researchers recently made both a negative and positive discovery in regard to the intestinal tract. They found a high salt diet kills the beneficial bacteria in the gut and raises blood pressure, but a daily serving of bio-live yogurt or sauerkraut replaces the bacteria and reduces blood pressure.

The importance of having healthy amounts of friendly bacteria in the gut can’t be overstated. When strains of these microbes are low, the body starts producing cells that cause inflammation. This in turn makes the blood vessels narrow, which elevates blood pressure and can increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

While the probiotic treatment reversed the effects of the high-salt diet on the gut and blood pressure, the researched urged caution against interpreting the results as a license to eat too much salty foods.

“I think certainly there’s some promise in developing probiotics that could be targeted to possibly fixing some of the effects of a high-salt diet, but people shouldn’t think they can eat fast food and then pop a probiotic, and it will be canceled out,” said Eric Alm, professor of biological engineering and civil and environmental engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Probiotics Reverse Effects of High-Salt Diet

In the new study, the team from MIT worked with researchers in Germany. They fed mice a high-salt diet for two weeks, which led to a reduced population of a strain of bacteria called Lactobacillus murinus. The mice also had greater numbers of Th-17 cells, which are pro-inflammatory immune cells linked to high blood pressure. Consequently, the blood pressure of the mice rose. However, when the mice were administered a probiotic containing lactobacillus murinus, the numbers of Th-17 declined and the blood pressure decreased.

Next, the researchers found that feeding 12 adult men a high-salt diet for two weeks also resulted in a reduced population of lactobacillus bacteria. It led to higher numbers of Th-17 cells and an elevation in blood pressure as well. When the participants took a probiotic for a week before going on a high-salt diet, the population of lactobacillus in the gut and the levels of blood pressure stayed normal.

“We’re learning that the immune system exerts a lot of control on the body, above and beyond what we generally think of as immunity,” said Alm. “The mechanisms by which it exerts that control are still being unraveled.”

Alm and his colleagues hope that future studies will reveal the specific mechanisms by which a high-salt diet leads to illness. “If you can find that smoking gun and uncover the complete molecular details of what’s going on, you may make it more likely that people adhere to a healthy diet,” said Alm.

The study was published in the journal Nature.

How to Shop for Probiotic Foods

When shopping for yogurt, avoid the flavored varieties because they have added sugar. Instead, opt for the plain kind and add your own fruit. You also may want to try making yogurt at home. It’s inexpensive, delicious and easy to prepare.

Most of the cans and bottles of sauerkraut found in non-refrigerated isles in supermarkets don’t contain probiotics because the pasteurization process destroys them. Some of the refrigerated sauerkraut products aren’t pasteurized, so these would be a better choice.


Mary West is a natural health enthusiast, as she believes this area can profoundly enhance wellness. She is the creator of a natural healing website where she focuses on solutions to health problems that work without side effects. You can visit her site and learn more at Ms. West is also the author of Fight Cancer Through Powerful Natural Strategies.

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