Dr. Jingyuan Fu believes we still have a lot to learn about gut bacteria and its link to heart health. Knowing one of the major risk factors for heart disease is abnormal blood lipid (or fat) levels, she and her colleagues at the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands conducted a study to pinpoint the types bacteria associated with blood lipids and BMI. Their goal? To one day use their findings to assist with heart disease treatment and prevention.
Here in the United States and worldwide, cardiovascular disease is still the number one cause of death, killing more than 17 million men and women annually. Currently, treatment for high blood lipid levels is limited to either diet and lifestyle changes or lipid-lowering drugs such as statins, but Fu and her team wondered if there might be another option: altering our gut microbiome to support optimal lipid levels and heart health.
“Our study provides new evidence that microbes in the gut are strongly linked to the blood level of HDL (good cholesterol) and triglycerides and may be added as a new risk factor for abnormal blood lipids, in addition to age, gender, BMI and genetics,” said Dr. Fu in a news release. Specifically, they were able to identify 34 different types of bacteria linked to body fat and blood lipids—most of which were previously unknown.
There are more than 100 trillion bacteria cells living in the human body, and research tells us those microbes play a role in everything from digestion and immune function to respiratory health, weight management, and more. Using new technologies, it is now possible to take a closer look at our gut bacteria and see just how they work—which may bring us one step closer to improving human health for generations to come.