People with poor levels of bacteria in their gut are more likely to suffer from arterial stiffness, researchers discovered when they monitored the health of 617 middle-aged women, many of whom were twins. There was an inverse relationship between gut diversity and arterial disease; in other words, the women with the greatest diversity of bacteria had the least amount of arterial stiffness.
Enriching the gut with more varieties of bacteria could be a better way to treat arterial disease and heart disease, say researchers from King's College London.
It's already known that the gut microbiome—the community of microbes in the gastrointestinal tract—regulates inflammation, glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity (two major factors in type 2 diabetes), and so it's not surprising it's also linked to arterial disease.
The discovery drives the final nail into the theory that fatty foods fur up our arteries and make them stiff. It even adds a nuance to the newer idea that heart disease is associated with processed foods, and especially sugar: it's more to do with our ability to process the foods.