Category: Nutrition

Lower Your Blood Pressure With Probiotics

Do Probiotics Lower Blood Pressure?

By: Austin Perlmutter, MD, Medical Student, Miller School of Medicine

As research on the microbiome flourishes, we continue to find evidence for the role of probiotics in optimizing our health. Most recently, an analysis published in the journal Hypertension examines the effect of probiotic supplementation on our blood pressure. Considering that two thirds of Americans are pre-hypertensive or fully hypertensive, this data may prove extremely significant

Over the last several years, we’ve started investigations on how probiotics affect everything from brain health to acne. Though this is a relatively new field of academic concentration, the interplay between bacteria and human has been increasingly illuminating. One area of focus examines changes in blood pressure with probiotic administration. Several studies have observed positive interactions, but this meta-analysis is the first to cross-analyze and synthesize the available information.

Comparing results from randomized, controlled trials on humans, there were a total of 9 studies included in the analysis. Participants received supplemental probiotics in the form of yogurt, fermented/sour milk, supplements, rose hip drinks or cheese. Overall, the analysis showed that consumption of probiotics led to a significant decrease in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure measurements. As could be expected, larger changes were seen in those who started with high blood pressure than those who were healthy to begin with.

High blood pressure is a major health concern, with tens of thousands of American deaths each year directly related to this disease. In addition, hypertension can lead to heart disease and stroke, which are among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in this country. If we can partially alleviate this concern with something as simple as probiotic supplementation, the effects might be far-reaching

What does all this mean? At the most basic level, there is no downside to starting a probiotic supplement each day. For those already taking probiotics, this is another reason to continue. Good sources of probiotics include yogurt, cheese, and fermented beverages like unsweetened kefir or kombucha. However, a high quality supplement containing at least 10 billion active cultures from 10 or more strains including lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium is the best way to ensure you meet all your probiotic needs.

For more information, order your copy of Grain Brain today and join Dr. Perlmutter’s email list.

  • Boundless

    When discussing probiotics, it’s always worth mentioning that the critters need to be fed, or they will soon be gone. The diet must include substrate for them, such as resistant starch (RS).

    When people add RS to their diets, they commonly report improvements in sleep, which includes having vivid dreams. Is there any chance a leading neurologist could opine on how this phenomenon arises?

  • clarekaylene

    I am learning much from your book, Grain Brain, and your posts. I have been on a journey of “healing” for some time and still learning. Quick question that I would LOVE answered. You mention Kombucha in the above post. In reading your book and material you talk about not spiking blood sugar. I eat and drink carefully, trying to avoid anything right now that is high glycemic or can affect insulin function. I’ve been drinking kombucha for some time, but was wondering since it’s fermented with sugar, albeit, I use organic, is this something I should avoid as I continue to try to get my glucose levels down? My last test was an 83.

    • David Perlmutter

      Kombucha is a healthful fermented food, but if you have blood sugar issues, you may want to consult with your physician.

    • gregcoffey

      I’ve been recently drinking Kevita probiotic drink and it shows 1g of both sugar and total carb per serving. And it includes L plantarum which was prominently mentioned earlier this week by Dr Perlmutter as an essential variety to include.

  • Eve-Loraine

    When discussing blood pressure I have found that what causes it is relevant. Are the arteries clogged? My BP seems to be a reaction to my flight or fight response which I don’t seem to be able to control. It just rockets up and down. Maybe my gut has a say in that.

    • Sidny

      Dr. Perlmutter, I am finding varying answers on whether one should take probiotics with or without food. Some say the increased stomach acid during digestion isn’t hospitable, and some say the alkaline as a result of digesting food is better than an empty stomach. When is it best to take probiotic capsules? I’m reading your book and very appreciative of your work.

      • David Perlmutter

        I advise just take the suggested dosage daily, with water, in the AM.

    • sj

      I have the same issue. My doctor suggested I learn to meditate to control F-or-F. Check your magnesium (and calcium) levels. There’s a book about it. ‘The Miracle of Magnesium’.

  • Sam Marks

    I’d appreciate if you could note the article details DOI as a reference so we can read ourselves.

  • Lynn Dell

    At the risk of cross posting and therefore spamming, I was wondering if your new Grain Brain cookbook includes fermented food recipes. Pretty please, with natural stevia on top???

    • David Perlmutter

      Nothing there Lynn, but so many great recipes for you to try!

  • Lynn Dell

    Oh, my word, I can feel an effect from Trader Joe’s sauerkraut! I was able to nap yesterday for the first time in a long time, and sleep was so much better last night, and I don’t feel the compulsion to eat carbohydrates as nearly as much as I had been feeling. I was wanting to see if I could get a probiotic effect from food, so have not been supplementing and it definitely can be done in my case. Kefir and sauerkraut – YAY!

    • Lynn Dell

      That being said, Dr. Perlmutter, in addition to the other supplements I’ve ordered, I’m going to try the probiotic one soon!

  • jb

    I have been enjoying an increased sense of well being on the low carb gluten free diet but have this question: If our bodies are designed to eat this way, why the need for the probiotics..without which I experience constipation on this diet.

  • Donna

    After i read your book I was less concerned about fat ( i.e. eggs and beef) which i don’t eat a lot of any way but my overall cholesterol went UP from 219 to 240. Should i be concerned? I exercise regularly. I am 57 year old female. I am able to keep my blood pressure down with exercise.

    • David Perlmutter

      I do not believe there is a target cholesterol level. However, Donna, if you are concerned, you should consult your physician.

  • GLADYS

    What probiotic do you recommend for HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE ?
    AND SINCE I AM ON HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION, CAN YOU
    TAKE A PROBIOTIC WITH HIGHT BLOOD PRESSURE MEDICATION?
    THANKS, GLADYS

  • dherself

    I recently started on probiotics with a capsule that has 10 strains and 20 billion cultures. I took it twice a day on an empty stomach as recommended in Grain Brain. And I felt ill on it. After more reading, I discovered some research that if you’ve never taken probiotics before, it’s better to start slowly with 1 capsule per day, and build up to the 2 capsule daily.

  • dherself

    Dr. Perlmutter, I am also interested in an answer to Gladys question. If you take high blood pressure medication, can you also take your probiotics supplement without harm?

  • sj

    Do probiotics affect the other supplements you take daily? Thanks.

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  • Randall Burns

    I’ve been using Bravo Yogurt as a probiotic. What I noticed is that I have to avoid taking Bravo Yorgurt within 45 minutes of taking my blood pressure medications. It seems like it may interfere with absorbtion. Once i figured that out, I was fine.

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