Consuming live microbes could benefit cardiovascular health: study

By Olivia DeSmit

- Last updated on GMT

© Nastasic / E+ / Getty Images
© Nastasic / E+ / Getty Images

Related tags cardiovascular health Probiotics

Regular consumption of foods containing moderate and high levels of live microbes is correlated with a reduction in cardiovascular health risk, according to a team of researchers from Shandong University of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Jinan, China.

“In the final model, taking into account a variety of potential confounders, moderate and high groups were still significantly associated with lower cardiovascular health risks,” they wrote in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

The cross-sectional study analyzed data from NHANES through the lens of American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8.

In addition to live microbes increasing LE8 scores and reducing the risk of cardiovascular health risk, the researchers also found a correlation between food intake and LE8 for those consuming foods high in live microbes.

Cardiovascular health is correlated with dietary patterns, and previous studies have linked gut microbiota to cardiovascular diseases. In addition, a positive correlation between dietary live microbes and physiological indicators has been found.

The AHA’s LE8 includes the follwoing health behaviors and health factors: diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep health, BMI, blood pressure, blood lipids and blood glucose.

“Higher levels of LE8 are associated with reduced incidences of coronary heart disease, stroke and CVD, and are also independently related to lower risks of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality,” the researchers noted.

Study details

The study analyzed data from more than 10,000 adult participants of NHANES surveys from 2005-2018. Dietary intake of participants was recorded, and the quantity of live microbes was determined for more than 9,000 different foods. Each of these was categorized into low, medium or high live microbe content groups, which allowed the researchers to then categorize the participants by low, medium and high intake of dietary live microbes.

A majority of participants were considered obese, and an assessment of cardiovascular health showed 66.34% of participants were at a moderate level.

Both medium and high live microbe intake groups had significantly higher LE8 scores and a reduced risk of cardiovascular health risk when compared with the low intake group.

For food intake, the low live microbe intake group had a linear negative correlation between food intake and LE8. In contrast, the high intake group had a linear positive correlation. Interestingly, the medium intake group showed an inverted U shape for this outcome, “implying that a moderate intake of foods with medium levels of live microbes might be more beneficial for CVH,” the researchers wrote.

They also completed sensitivity analyses excluding populations with a history of various cardiovascular diseases and found that across five different sets of exclusion criteria, the positive correlation for moderate to high intake groups for dietary live microbes and LE8 was consistently significant.

“Subgroup analyses reveal the universality of this relationship across different populations, although caution should be exercised in generalizing these findings,” they wrote.

These subgroup analyses showed that the results are not universal across different populations. The correlation between live microbe consumption and LE8 was not significant for non-Hispanic Black participants. In addition, the researchers suggested that different genders may respond differently to the consumption of live microbes.

Source: Frontiers in Nutrition
“Association between dietary live microbe intake and Life's Essential 8 in US adults: a cross-sectional study of NHANES 2005–2018”
2024, v. 11; 10.3389/fnut.2024.1340028
Authors: Wang, L., et al.

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