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New Research Confirms 'You Are What You Eat'

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Friday, March 22, 2019   

ST. PAUL, Minn. – New research suggests that what you eat could be the fountain of youth for heart health.

It's known that a healthy "gut" can contribute to a strong immune system and even improve mood and healthy sleep. But now, a new study from the University of Colorado also suggests "gut health" has long-term impacts on vascular aging.

Research by lead author and postdoctoral researcher Vienna Brunt found that changes in microorganisms that live in the gut are connected to cardiovascular disease, which opens up a new avenue for potential interventions.

"So this study, for the first time, establishes a link between adverse changes in the gut microbiome and changes that occur to the arteries as we age, which can then increase the likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases," says Brunt.

The research showed that when a cocktail of antibiotics was used to kill off gut bacteria in young mice it had no affect, but when used on old mice for three to four weeks, their blood vessels and arteries resembled those of the young mice. The study recently was published in the Journal of Physiology.

The American Heart Association says the risk of cardiovascular disease starts as early as age 45, and 70 percent of people in the U.S. show signs of the impairment starting in their sixties.

By age 80, four out of five people show diseased arteries. Brunt says why that happens is still a mystery, but her research suggests it wouldn't be a bad idea to eat more pro- and prebiotic foods such as yogurt, garlic and asparagus.

"It's been established for a while that healthy diets can promote gut microbiome health, and so that is likely the best place to start looking for interventions that we can use to target gut health as we age," says Brunt.

Brunt says antibiotics were used in the study as an experimental tool, but due to their side effects, she does not advocate for antibiotics as a cardiovascular fountain of youth and instead recommends a healthy diet to reduce the inflammation that often leads to disease.


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