Keep Your Heart Healthy
Just recently, my dear friend's husband died at a young age of a heart attack and nobody saw this coming. It can be so devastating to families to feel the hurt of losing someone they love. Your heart is certainly one of your most important organs, and since heart disease is the biggest killer in the United States it's really important to take care of your heart. But just how do you do this and is there a connection to our gut that can give us clues about how to take care of our heart? You hear all the advice to exercise and eat certain foods that support heart health which is certainly important, but is there something else we can do that can have a big impact?
SIBO and IBS
There are new discoveries in the connection between bacteria and the heart and the overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine called SIBO. When the wrong kind of bacteria leaks through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream, it can lead to widespread systemic inflammation. Inflammation affects the whole body and especially the heart.
A 2018 study, published in the journal Digestive Disease and Sciences, found that patients with SIBO had an 80 percent higher chance of having heart disease.  They also had an increased number of coronary arteries that were affected. The gut-heart connection is becoming so important that cardiologists will likely be sending their patients to see a gastroenterologist to test for bacteria that are migrating into the wrong place and vice versa. Some researchers believe this reality is closer than we think. 
Forty-seven percent of all Americans have at least one of the primary risk factors for heart disease – high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or they are smokers. I have seen a lot of people who have SIBO or IBS In the last five years. The number of SIBO cases is growing and a quarter of the population has it now. Patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have about a 78 percent rate of SIBO and researchers are finding that individuals with these types of gastrointestinal problems have a higher risk of developing heart disease. 
Check out these articles for more info on SIBO and IBS.
Kefir and Your Heart — Study 2021
Kefir is a powerful probiotic food that has more than 50 good bacteria and good yeasts. More and more studies are coming out showing the power of my favorite cultured food. I've been consuming kefir daily since 2001 and I have witnessed firsthand these effects: lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and so much more.
The Kefir Study
The journal PharmaNutrition published a study conducted by pharmaceutical and physiology researchers at the University Vila Velha and the Federal University of Espirito Santo, both in Brazil, on the effects of consuming kefir (made with kefir grains) for 12 weeks. The researchers examined data from 48 patients who had been diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, which is a simultaneously occurring condition that increases an individual's risk of heart disease. These issues may include high cholesterol, high blood sugar, excess fat around the waist, high blood pressure, or other ailments.
The researchers divided the 48 participants into two groups for 12 weeks. One group drank milk kefir daily while the control group received a placebo drink. Neither group knew which one they were receiving.
The participants who drank kefir saw decreased blood pressure, lower fasting blood sugar, decreased levels of bad cholesterol, and, for female participants, increased levels of good cholesterol. The study authors wrote, "Kefir also reduced the risk of cardiovascular events for the next ten years based on the study reducing oxLDL and the risk of developing cardiovascular events in the next ten years" The risk of cardiovascular events for the next ten years was calculated through the Framingham Score method.
This wasn't the only study done on kefir. A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry fed rats kefir made with kefir grains and concluded that the kefir helped to strengthen their heart’s blood-pumping action, lowered blood pressure, reduced enlargement of the heart muscle, and improved handling of calcium-handling proteins, important mediators of cardiac contractile function. 
Fix Your Gut Lining
One of the most important things you can do is to heal and seal the gut. You might not have heard of it before now, but Akkermansia muciniphila is a really important bacteria that resides in our gut. It was discovered in 2004, and this (friendly) bacteria makes up one to four percent of our total gut microbes. It helps to maintain our gut lining and has many health benefits. Our gut lining keeps us protected from the outside world. When it's damaged, you can have leaky gut syndrome which is linked to IBS, anxiety, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and SIBO.
The "muciniphila" part of the name comes from Akkermansia’s love of the mucus in your gut. It loves to eat the slimy layer of mucus that coats your intestinal walls. The mucus layer is very important for gut health and it's very important for the health of your whole body. While it munches on the mucus, Akkermansia produces nutrients that feed our other good gut bacteria. It doesn't deplete the lining, but rather quite the opposite. It actually encourages the cells to become stronger and makes a tough gut barrier which is super important!  Here is how to feed Akkermansia.
Foods That Feed Akkermansia
One of the foods Akkermansia loves and thrives on the most is apple peels. Apples contain over 50 percent pectin, a potent prebiotic, and Akkermansia grows like crazy when you eat apples - especially the peels. I love apple peel powder in my kefir smoothie.
Other foods that feed Akkermansia:
Elderberries, Blueberries, Jerusalem artichokes, Asparagus, Cherries, Strawberries, Plums, Raspberries
Apple peels, Apples, and Apple Peel powders.
FOS (fructooligosaccharides) had good results in feeding and growing Akkermansia in a laboratory. You can find FOS in Prebio Plus.
Foods that Heal and Make You well
I hope you will try kefir or at least try to heal your gut with foods like apple peels that your gut lining loves. It's so important not just for your heart, but for all the hundreds of daily body processes.The bacteria Akkermansia was put in you for a very important reason. It will govern your gut lining, keeping it intact and sealed from the outside forces that could harm you.
Kefir . . . well, I call it the love of my life. It has done for me what I could not do for myself and showed me the inner workings of my trillion of microbes. It busily ferments on my counter for 24 hours while I go about my day. When I drink it, mighty forces in the form of microbes increase my digestion, load me with enzymes, produce 19 anti-inflammatory markers that protect my heart, lower my blood pressure, feed my microbiome, and fill me with a sense of well being that I get to share with you. It's just a food/drink, and not a drug, that's been consumed for thousands of years. It found its way to me when I really needed it, and I will be forever grateful. 💝
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Kefir is a powerful probiotic food that has more than 50 good bacteria and good yeasts. More and more studies are coming out showing the power of my favorite cultured food. I've been consuming kefir daily since 2001 and I have witnessed firsthand these effects: lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and so much more. Check out the new studies that show kefir can protect your heart.
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