April 27, 2018
Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine researchers were featured during the American Physiological Society annual meeting at “Experimental Biology 2018” in San Diego, Cal., for their collaborative work with colleagues in Brazil that suggests that drinking the fermented milk beverage kefir may have a positive effect on blood pressure by promoting communication between the gut and brain.
Mirian Silva-Cutini, a doctoral exchange student and first author of this work, presented the team’s findings at the meeting. Silva-Cutini conducted her research at Auburn’s College of Veterinary Medicine under the direction of Dr. Vinicia Biancardi, an assistant professor in the department of anatomy, physiology and pharmacology.
Kefir is a fermented probiotic milk beverage known to help maintain the balance of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system, Auburn said. Previous research has shown that an imbalance in the gut’s microbiota may cause high blood pressure in some people. Similarly, probiotics — supplements of live bacteria that are beneficial to the digestive system — have been found to lower blood pressure, but the mechanisms by which this occurs are unclear, the university said in its announcement.
The Auburn research team, in collaboration with the University of Vila Velha in Brazil, studied three groups of rats to determine how kefir reduces high blood pressure (hypertension):
* One group had hypertension and was treated with kefir;
* One group had hypertension and was not treated with kefir, and
* One group had normal blood pressure and was not treated.
After nine weeks of kefir supplementation, the treated rats had lower levels of endotoxins (toxic substances associated with disruption in the cells), lower blood pressure and improved intestinal permeability compared with the untreated rats. Healthy intestines allow some substances to pass through but generally act as a barrier to keep out harmful bacteria and other potentially dangerous substances. In addition, kefir supplementation restored the natural balance of four different bacteria in the gut and of an enzyme in the brain essential for normal nervous system function, suggesting that the nervous and digestive systems work together to reduce hypertension, the researchers said.
“Our data suggest that kefir anti-hypertensive-associated mechanisms involve gut microbiota/brain axis communication during hypertension,” the researchers wrote.
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