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Sniffing out who is behind your high blood pressure
High blood pressure is S-E-R-I-O-U-S.
If you’ve got it, you need to work at bringing it down, to avoid blowing a gasket, either in your head or heart.
Treatments to protect against cardiovascular disease, usually focus on minimizing the build up of cholesterol (plaque) in the pipes and then making the pipes more pliable and less full, either using lifestyle or drug therapy.
Cholesterol the culprit
Since the debris is composed of cholesterol – it is assumed, that cholesterol IS THE PROBLEM.
This assumption means that a lot of attention is given to “removing” cholesterol, through a low fat diet and/or statin therapy.
But physiologically speaking – cholesterol is not really the BAD GUY we all assume it to be.
Cholesterol it is a vital component of our membranes, the liver sends out cholesterol to patch up damaged blood vessels.
So if cholesterol is not responsible, what is ? The problem may not be what, rather a WHO !
Sniffing out the culprit
Researchers from John Hopkins University have just discovered, kidney blood vessels tense up when exposed to certain smells.
And when a kidney blood vessel tenses up – this is T-R-O-U-B-L-E with a capital T, because their twitchy behaviour causes renin to leak out.
And renin is the guy whose ropes in angiotensinogen, once this protein is in renin’s hands……… a few tweaks, turns the rather innocent angiotensin I into angiotensin II. Angiotensin II has a vice like grip, it attaches itself to blood vessels and then SQUEEZES them tight.
The resultant clamping constricts blood flow causing the pressure to build.
The final effect – HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE.
The source of the stench
So what could smell so bad ?
The research team set about tracking down the source of the smell that upsets the kidneys.
To their surprise – the smell was not coming from the kidney area, nor the liver……. They found the “bad” smells, were emanating from bacteria, holed up in the gut.
Yup, gut bacteria may be the WHO, behind high blood pressure. They’re already implicated in obesity.
Blood vessels have noses
Not great big schnozzles !
But buried inside the blood vessels are olfactory receptors. Olfactory receptors are what give noses the power to smell. Noses have a whole lot of olfactory receptors – which means they can smell everything from sweet scents to noxious odours.
Blood vessels only have a small selection of olfactory receptors, among them Olfr78 (olfactory receptor 78). So they can smell, but they can’t smell EVERYTHING.
But they can smell acetic acid aka VINEGAR. This is Olfr78’s special talent.
Blood vessels in the kidney are particularly good at sniffing things. The Olfr78 is found in the kidney arteries and arterioles. Heart, diaphragm, skeletal muscle and skin blood vessels also have well developed Olfr78 noses.
Mmmmm……… slap chips doused in vinegar from the corner café.
Probably not ………….
On occasion vinegar, acetic acid in chemical speak, does arrive in the gut from the outside, but the real source of this acetic acid is from the food that has been fermented in your gut.
The trillions of bacteria turn carbs and things, into a variety of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Acetate, the chemical twin of acetic acid is one of these SCFAs.
When the Harvard team artificially manipulated this Olfr78 / acetic acid switch using “fancy mice” that had been genetically manipulated, the animals blood pressure shot up.
But normal mice……….. not so much.
The team discovered there is another receptor, one that has nothing to do with smell which is also playing a role. The second receptor, Gpr41 is also activated by SCFAs, but when it triggers blood pressure comes down.
So…………… it is complicated. It’s a power play between the two receptor systems.
But SCFAs and gut bacteria are involved in regulating blood pressure.
It is not your fault ?
The blood pressure thing, is definitely complicated………
But the take home message from this research – your high blood pressure, might not be YOUR FAULT.
Your high blood pressure might not be because you’re eating too much salt, too much fat and sitting on the couch, too much. It could be due to the fact that you have the WRONG bacteria living in your gut.
Cultivate the good guys
It will probably be a few years before the full story is told, but we do already know, people with metabolic syndrome have “the wrong bugs”.
To enjoy Better Body Chemistry you need to cultivate the right microflora. Feed (prebiotics) and seed (probiotics) your gut bacteria and avoid unnecessary antibiotics.
High cholesterol is seen as the kiss of death….. If your LDL level has crept up, a little – IT MUST BE BROUGHT DOWN. Well maybe, maybe not.
A variety of drugs can be taken to reduce the pressure in the pipes, but many people yearn for non-pharmacological approaches – find out what science suggests.
Bacteria need iron to grow, so iron levels are ALWAYS kept low, except during STRESSFUL moments, when iron is made available……. bacteria come out to play
Want to lower blood pressure naturally ?
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