Intermittent fasting has been all the rage for a few years. While it’s mostly seen as an effective and simple way to lose weight, new benefits have started popping up as scientists continue to study the effects of fasting. Turns out, the practice can help heal your gut. And if you have high blood pressure, the latest findings will have you jumping for joy!
Intermittent fasting is essentially a deliberate change to our eating patterns. It’s really an umbrella term for going between periods where you eat and don’t eat, or fast. While there are many ways to do it, they all involve not eating for regulated periods of time. That sounds concerning, but you already fast during the hours between dinner and breakfast (which literally means you “break” your nightly “fast”!). These methods just extend that a bit, depending on your plan, to fit your needs.
A research team at Texas’ Baylor College of Medicine used the link between harmful gut bacteria and high blood pressure to see how they could fix it. Through animal testing, the team found that fasting reduces the amount of hypertensive microbiota, therefore lowering blood pressure. It’s a result that could seriously help the millions of Americans struggling with high blood pressure. According to lead author Dr. David Durgan, it can lead to even more health benefits.
“This study is important to understand that fasting can have its effects on the host through microbiota manipulation,” Dr. Durgan said. “This is an attractive idea because it can potentially have clinical applications. Fasting schedules could one day help regulate the activity of gut microbial populations to naturally provide health benefits.”
How does intermittent fasting lower blood pressure?
Overall, Durgan lists how intermittent fasting has proven to have many benefits. It can lead to weight loss, lower cholesterol, risk of coronary artery disease, and even lower blood pressure. But they weren’t exactly sure how it played a factor in hypertension. That’s when they started looking at gut microbiota, which is essentially all the living microorganisms in our body.
Turns out, fasting reconstructs the gut microbiota, healing it from within. It also ups the amount of bile acids in our system. That sounds like a bad thing — but it’s not! Bile helps with all sorts of things, including digestion and the absorption of nutrients we need. More bile means a healthier gut, and fasting can help make that happen. The study proved that the makeup of our gut microbiota had a direct impact on blood pressure. And since fasting helped change microbiota in the animal studies, hypertension lowered as a result. TK
Intermittent fasting isn’t for everyone. But if it’s right for you, the health benefits of intermittent fasting could include lower blood pressure — and a healthy gut!