Intermittent Fasting Lowers Blood Pressure by Modifying Gut Microbiota According to Baylor College Study

Intermittent fasting involves alternating cycles of eating and not eating and is not just a diet trend, but a lifestyle choice gaining scientific backing for its health benefits. A study from Baylor College of Medicine taps into its potential, investigating how such eating patterns impact blood pressure and cardiovascular health, specifically through changes in the intestinal microbiota.

Effect of Intermittent Fasting on Microbiota

Effect of Intermittent Fasting on Microbiota

Intermittent Fasting and Cardiovascular Health

Intermittent fasting has already been associated with cardiovascular health, and this study by nutritionists and cardiologists from Baylor College of Medicine reveals how this increasingly adopted diet reduces blood pressure by remodeling the intestinal microbiota. While in developed countries about 50% of adults suffer from high blood pressure, this study, presented in the journal Circulation Research, suggests a simple, accessible, and natural option to better control one’s weight and blood pressure.

Read Also: Intermittent Fasting Can Help Patients with Diabetes Beat Their Condition Study Shows

The Link Between Hypertension and Intestinal Microbiota

Researchers from Houston remind us that hypertension is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke, conditions recognized today as the leading causes of death. More recently, new studies have highlighted the possible detrimental effects of disruption of the microbiota or intestinal dysbiosis on blood pressure. Furthermore, the same team had already demonstrated that the composition of the intestinal microbiota in animal models of hypertension is different from that of models with normal blood pressure. Thus, the transplantation of dysbiotic intestinal microbiota from a hypertensive animal to a normal tension animal causes arterial hypertension (HTA) in the recipient. The Microbiota Involved in Blood Pressure Regulation This is the team’s hypothesis: intestinal dysbiosis is not just a consequence, but also a cause of hypertension.

Study Insights: Fasting’s Role in Blood Pressure Regulation

The team based its research on previous studies suggesting that fasting is one of the main drivers of intestinal microbiota composition and a promoter of beneficial cardiovascular effects. Working with a mouse model of hypertension, the team shows that a group of mice subjected to limited access to food (intermittent fasting) experiences a significant reduction in their blood pressure. The transplantation of microbiota from mice that had fasted or had unrestricted access to food to germ-free or microbiota-free animals also shows that when these animals receive the microbiota from normally fed counterparts, they present higher blood pressure than animals that received the microbiota from counterparts that fasted. Thus, changes in the microbiota induced by fasting are sufficient to mediate the hypotensive effect. How Does the Intestinal Microbiota Regulate Blood Pressure? Researchers observe, through different analyses, that in the case of intermittent fasting, alterations in the metabolism products of bile acids play a mediating role in regulating blood pressure. In practice, hypertensive animals present lower levels of circulating bile acids than normotensive animals. Animals subjected to intermittent fasting had even more circulating bile acids than normotensive animals.

Read Also: Intermittent Fasting Has a Regenerative Effect on Nerves Study Shows

Future Implications

A new therapeutic pathway? Supplementing animals with cholic acid, a primary bile acid, also significantly reduces blood pressure in animal models of hypertension. The study shows for the first time that intermittent fasting can be beneficial in terms of reducing hypertension by remodeling the composition of the intestinal microbiota. On the other hand, intestinal dysbiosis contributes to hypertension by modifying bile acid signaling.

Final Thoughts

The study’s insights into intermittent fasting suggest a groundbreaking approach to hypertension management. For instance, patients might use scheduled eating patterns to complement or reduce their dependence on blood pressure medications. This dietary strategy, simple and accessible, could become a key tool in the broader fight against cardiovascular diseases.

Read Also: 10 Important Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

References

Shi, H., Zhang, B., Abo-Hamzy, T., Nelson, J. W., Ambati, C. S. R., Petrosino, J. F., Bryan Jr, R. M., & Durgan, D. J. (2021). Restructuring the Gut Microbiota by Intermittent Fasting Lowers Blood Pressure. Circulation Research, 128, 1240–1254. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.120.318155

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