Over the past decade, probiotics have been increasingly studied for potential benefits for blood lipid metabolism. It is thought that probiotic bacteria and their metabolites can interact with genes, affecting the expression of proteins involved in the regulation of blood lipid levels. In addition, increased overall inflammation due to imbalances in intestinal flora may also adversely affect heart health. But researchers believe that probiotics may shore up heart health by normalizing intestinal flora and thereby impacting the expression of inflammatory cytokines and other chemicals related to inflammation.
An interesting Brazilian study led by Annelise Costanza of Federal Fluminense University (Niteroi, Brazil) looked at the impact of supplementation with the probiotic yeast Saccharomyces boulardii in heart-failure patients.(5) The placebo-controlled trial was conducted on 20 outpatients who had experienced heart failure (NYHA class II or III, signifying moderate heart failure) with a left ventricular ejection fraction < 50%. These subjects were asked to consume 1000 mg per day of S. boulardii, or a placebo, for three months. Drug treatments for heart failure were left unchanged.
Supplementation with the yeast probiotic was found to significantly improve total cholesterol, uric acid levels, left atrial diameter, and left ventricular ejection fraction. Furthermore, high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), a marker of inflammation, was reduced compared to placebo. Thus, supplementation was found to improve heart function, to favorably affect total cholesterol levels, and to reduce inflammation, all important factors for heart health.
5. Costanza AC et al., “Probiotic therapy with Saccharomyces boulardii for heart failure patients: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot trial,” International Journal of Cardiology. Published online November 11, 2014.
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