The consumption of probiotics may help to reduce blood pressure (BP), say the authors of a meta-analysis.
The team pooled data from nine randomised controlled trials, involving a total of 543 participants. Seven of the studies were double-blind, one was single-blind and the blinding of the other was not specified.
“The small collection of studies we looked at suggest regular consumption of probiotics can be part of a healthy lifestyle to help reduce high blood pressure, as well as maintain healthy blood pressure levels”, said researcher Jing Sun (Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia), in a press statement.
“This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements.”
Eight of the nine studies reported a significant systolic BP reduction among participants taking probiotics, relative to those who were not, with five reporting a clinically significant reduction of more than 5 mmHg.
Across the nine studies, the average systolic BP reduction was 3.56 mmHg in the probiotic versus control groups, the findings published in Hypertension show.
All eight studies that reported diastolic BP found a reduction associated with probiotic consumption, but this was statistically significant in only two studies. Across all eight studies, the average diastolic BP reduction was a significant 2.38 mmHg.
However, there was high heterogeneity for changes in both systolic and diastolic BP.
Sensitivity analyses indicated that the best BP reductions may be achieved with multiple species of probiotics, taken for at least 8 weeks at a dose of at least 1011 colony-forming units, and for higher starting BP levels.
“We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance”, said Sun.
But Sun and team caution that existing studies of probiotics tend to be small and of short duration, and that more research is needed to confirm the effects of probiotics on BP and on the overall health of patients, especially those with hypertension.
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