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Prescription 2018: Natural Heart Health for Men

December 7, 2018 Written by JP    [Font too small?]

The latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that men and women share the same leading cause of death: heart disease. That said, how one goes about addressing this shared risk is affected by the distinct biochemistry of females and males. Today, I’ll discuss three steps men can take to protect their cardiovascular system. In my next blog, I’ll do same with regard to women.

A really inspiring study about diet and cardiovascular function can be found in the November 14th issue of the journal, Nutrients. In it, a group of healthy men were fed a high- and low-polyphenol diet (LAD) for two weeks on separate occasions with a “wash out” period in-between. The results of this crossover trial were quite dramatic. Although the experimental LAD was short-term, a significantly negative effect on vascular function was found during the low-polyphenol leg of the research. This was evidenced by undesirable changes in nitric oxide, thromboxane A2 and prostaglandin I2. I find this encouraging because it illustrates how even brief dietary interventions can impact blood flow (in harmful or healthful ways) and possibly the long-term risk of heart attacks and strokes.

Note: Polyphenols are antioxidant, organic compounds mainly found in fruits, herbs, spices, tea, vegetables and select treats including coffee, dark chocolate and red wine. In fact, in the LAD segment of the research, participants were, “asked not to consume more than 2 servings of fruits or vegetables per day and their consumption of polyphenol-rich items, such as coffee, tea or chocolate, was restricted.” This provides a general guideline about which foods we ought to emphasize.

Upgrading your diet and lifestyle is clearly a good starting point for improving heart health. But, not everyone is physically active and/or achieves a nutrient dense eating pattern all the time. Frequently, poor dietary choices involve added sources of sugar, such as fructose. Excessive fructose and a sedentary lifestyle have long been associated with elevated cardiometabolic risk. Fortunately, a recent experiment found that some of the harm caused by fructose overfeeding and a lack of exercise may be counteracted by supplementing with a nutraceutical “cocktail” containing fish oil, polyphenols, selenium and Vitamin E. In the 20 day trial, this nutritional blend protected against a predicted drop in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and a rise in triglycerides. Also, there was an improvement in antioxidant capacity and no decline in total fat oxidation and de novo lipogenesis – suggesting a possible benefit for weight management.

Next, I want to highlight two studies that tie into one of the hottest wellness trends of 2018. You’ve probably noticed that the topic of gut microbiota has taken on a place of prime significance in both conventional and integrative medicine. Many non-digestive conditions and diseases are now thought to be connected – directly or indirectly – to microorganisms in the gut. Having said that, there is still much to be discovered about the exact roles that specific, beneficial bacteria or probiotics exert on our physiology. One particular probiotic strain that appears to benefit a man’s “ticker” is Lactobacillus planetarium 299v (Lp299v). A recent study from October 2018 found that taking 20 billion CFUs (colony forming units) of Lp299v daily improved endothelial function and reduced inflammation in a group of men with stable coronary artery disease. A previous trial from 2002 noted a number of cardiovascular benefits in a group of smokers given the very same probiotic.

Part of the value of the above research is that it suggests that men have a fair amount of control over their cardiovascular destiny. Obviously, I don’t suggest regularly eating a nutrient-poor diet or foregoing physical activity. And, there are many other factors that impart cardioprotection that I haven’t touched on today, such as proper sleep hygiene, social connectedness, spending time in natural settings, stress management and more. The point of today’s content is that it’s also good to have some unconventional resources on hand in case complementary support is indicated. So, keep these alternatives in your back pocket in the event you need them. And, consider sharing them with someone who might benefit from learning about this mostly obscure knowledge.

Note: Interestingly, Lactobacillus planetarium 299v (Lp299v) is sold in the US as a probiotic that may reduce IBS severity. It’s manufactured by Jarrow Formulas and sold under the name, Ideal Bowel Support.

Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!

To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:

Study 1 – Leading Causes of Death (LCOD) in Males United States (link)

Study 2 – Leading Causes of Death (LCOD) in Females United States (link)

Study 3 – Changing to a Low-Polyphenol Diet Alters Vascular Biomarkers … (link)

Study 4 – Fructose-Containing Caloric Sweeteners as a Cause of Obesity (link)

Study 5 – A Nutrient Cocktail Prevents Lipid Metabolism Alterations Induced (link)

Study 6 – Lactobacillus Plantarum 299v Supplementation Improves Vascular (link)

Study 7 – Effect of Lactobacillus Plantarum 299v on Cardiovascular Disease … (link)

L. Plantarum 299v May Protect Cardiovascular Health, In Part, By Lowering Inflammation

Source: Circ Res. 2018 Oct 12;123(9):1091-1102. (link)

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Posted in Food and Drink, Heart Health, Men's Health

3 Comments & Updates to “Prescription 2018: Natural Heart Health for Men”

  1. JP Says:

    Updated 12/07/18:


    Hamostaseologie. 2018 Nov 20.

    The Gut Microbiota as an Influencing Factor of Arterial Thrombosis.

    The mutualistic gut microbiota does not only impact the development and function of various immune cell types, but it also influences the function of the hepatic vascular endothelium and prothrombotic platelet function. With germ-free mouse models, we have demonstrated that gut-derived microbial-associated molecular patterns could stimulate hepatic von Willebrand factor (VWF) synthesis and plasmatic VWF levels through Toll-like receptor-2 (TLR2), thus defining the extent of platelet deposition to the subendothelial matrix of the ligation-injured common carotid artery. In addition to the microbiota-derived choline metabolite trimethylamine N-oxide and the microbiota’s regulatory role on the colonic serotonin biosynthesis pathway, affecting prothrombotic platelet function, TLR2-regulated hepatic endothelial VWF synthesis and elevated VWF plasma levels constitute a pivotal mechanism of how the gut microbiota is linked to arterial thrombosis. Conceptually, in addition to the identified functions of the gut microbiota in modulating host nutrition and metabolism, our work places the innate immune functions of the liver sinusoidal endothelium as an actuating variable in arterial thrombus growth.

    Be well!


  2. JP Says:

    Updated 12/07/18:

    Med Clin (Barc). 2018 Nov 19.

    Effect of probiotics on lipid profiles in hypercholesterolaemic adults: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

    BACKGROUND: Recent clinical studies have yielded controversial results regarding the effect of probiotics on lipid profiles. To assess the efficacy of probiotics in lowering serum lipid concentrations, we conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

    METHODS: Literature from the PubMed, Embase and Cochrane databases were searched and screened. The effects of probiotics on lipid profiles were assessed by mean difference (MD) and 95% confidence interval (CI). All included studies were analyzed using Review Manager 5.3 (Cochrane Collaboration, 2014).

    RESULTS: A total of 19 RCTs, including 967 participants, met the inclusion criteria. Probiotic interventions reduced total cholesterol (TC) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) compared to controls (placebo or no treatment) by -0.25mmol/L (95% CI: -0.39, -0.12) and -0.17mmol/L (95% CI: -0.25, -0.09), respectively. No significant effects of probiotics on triglyceride (TG) and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) levels were found. The effects of probiotics on decreasing TC and LDL-C levels were greater for longer intervention times, certain probiotic strains, and in younger mildly hypercholesterolaemic subjects.

    CONCLUSION: This meta-analysis revealed that the use of probiotics can significantly lower TC and LDL-C levels in hypercholesterolaemic adults, which brings hope for reducing the risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease.

    Be well!


  3. JP Says:

    Updated 12/07/18:


    J Nutr Metab. 2018 Sep 16;2018:1729653.

    Nitrate-Rich Fruit and Vegetable Supplement Reduces Blood Pressure in Normotensive Healthy Young Males without Significantly Altering Flow-Mediated Vasodilation: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Controlled Trial.

    Nitric oxide (NO) is a primary vasodilatory factor released from endothelial cells of the peripheral vasculature. NO production is stimulated through enzymatic-dependent mechanisms via NO synthase and from dietary intake of nitrate-containing foods or supplements. We evaluated the efficacy of a nitrate-rich fruit and vegetable liquid supplement (FVS, AMPED NOx, Isagenix International LLC) versus a juice low in nitrates (prune juice, PRU) on circulating nitrates/nitrites as well as cardiovascular parameters in 45 healthy normotensive men (18-40 y). Blood pressure, flow-mediated dilation (FMD), and plasma nitrates and nitrites were measured at baseline and after two weeks of supplementation (2 oz/d). Subjects also completed questionnaires on sleep quality and mood since these measures have been associated with endothelial function. In contrast to PRU, FVS significantly increased plasma nitrates and nitrites (+67%, p < 0.001) and decreased diastolic blood pressure (-9%, p=0.029) after two weeks. The change in FMD for FVS supplementation versus PRU supplementation was not significant (+2% vs. -9%, respectively, p=0.145). Changes in sleep quality or total mood state did not differ between groups after the 2-week study. Thus, the nitrate-rich FVS supplement increased plasma NO and reduced diastolic blood pressure in young normotensive men, but increased plasma NO was not associated with improvements in FMD, mood, or sleep. Be well! JP

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