Researched: Dietary fiber works as well as blood pressure pills in high blood pressure

Researched: Dietary fiber works as well as blood pressure pills in high blood pressure

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The protective effect of propionic acid

Dietary fiber, which comes from whole grains and fruits, for example, has a protective effect against the severe health effects of high blood pressure. This effect has been observed for a long time and food societies have been advising people to increase their fiber intake for years. A German research team has now found out why fiber has this positive effect. During digestion, the short-chain fatty acid propionic acid is created, which acts like a drug on the organism.

Researchers at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine and the Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin have deciphered why fiber can protect our body against heart diseases. The degradation product propionic acid, which is formed during the digestion of fiber, is responsible for the protective function. According to the study, propionic acid acts directly on the immune system and soothes inflammatory processes that drive high blood pressure and other heart diseases. The study results were recently published in the journal "Circulation".

How propionic acid protects the heart

According to the research group, the short-chain fatty acid propionic acid is responsible for the protective effect of dietary fiber. The small molecule acts directly on the immune system and soothes those immune cells that raise blood pressure and drive inflammatory processes. "It was only through our study that it became clear that the substance takes a detour via the immune system and thus affects the heart and blood vessels," report Dr. Nicola Wilck and Hendrik Bartolomaeus in the press release on the study results.

Inflammatory processes are soothed

"In particular, those T helper cells that fire inflammatory processes and cause high blood pressure would be soothed," the experts write. This has a direct effect on the performance of the heart. The fatty acid propionic acid protects against the consequences of high blood pressure such as hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), tissue remodeling of the heart and cardiac arrhythmia.

Cardiac sick mice live longer with propionic acid

The team tested the positive effects of propionic acid on mice. Electrical stimuli triggered cardiac arrhythmias in 70 percent of the animals. In mice that had previously received propionic acid, the artificial triggering of the disorder only occurs in 20 percent of the animals. Through ultrasound examinations, tissue sampling and cell analyzes, the researchers demonstrated that propionic acid reduced blood pressure-related damage to the animals' cardiovascular system, thereby significantly increasing their survival rate.

Like a drug

"Propionic acid acts against a spectrum of damage to the cardiovascular system caused by high blood pressure," summarizes the group leader Professor Dominik N. Müller. The team concludes that the acid could also be used as a stand-alone medication to treat hypertension. "This could be of particular interest for the treatment of patients who have too little of this fatty acid," said the professor.

Propionic acid soon to be available as a stand-alone drug?

The research group sees short-chain fatty acids as a new option for the treatment of heart diseases. "Perhaps it makes sense to administer propionic acid or a chemical precursor directly as a drug," reports Dr. Wilck. Before that, propionic acid had to prove itself in everyday clinical practice. Since the fatty acid has already been approved for consumption and is used, for example, as a preservative, the hurdles for introduction are low. "Under these favorable conditions, the propionic acid will hopefully make the leap from the laboratory to those affected," the expert concluded.

Intestinal bacteria in the focus of science

The role that intestinal bacteria play in our health is becoming increasingly clear through current studies. Two more studies recently discovered how intestinal bacteria affect the risk of heart attack and stroke and how the intestinal flora releases harmful compounds into the blood when red meat is digested. Without red meat, the risk of heart disease drops after 30 days. (vb)

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Video: Nutrition to Improve your Blood Pressure and Cholesterol (November 2022).