Kefir: might a sour milky drink lower blood pressure?

As a child I can recall my grandparents drinking buttermilk. I never see it these days, probably too sour for today’s tastes. Yet Kefir, a drink that reminds me of it, is now all the rage – and for good reason. Already renowned for its beneficial impact on our microbiome, helping the friendly bacteria in our guts, researchers now believe it could also protect our cardiovascular health.

The interaction between the microorganisms in our gut have been shown to communicate with the brain, which raises the chance for them to influence a variety of body processes, with people with coronary heart disease some of the latest to exhibit differences in the composition of their gut microbiota, compared with people without the condition. So, it’s been reported that researchers at Auburn University in Alabama and the University of Vila Velha in Espirito Santo, Brazil, decided to find out whether kefir’s influence on gut health might also help to lower blood pressure, using rats to carry out the experiment.

After 9 weeks they found the Kefir drinking rats had lower blood pressure and as a bonus an improved intestinal structure, better protecting them from microbes and substances ‘leaking’ into other parts of their systems where they had no business to be. They also exhibited lower levels of endotoxins, known to contribute to inflammation, while they had regained the balance of helpful bacteria in the gut microbiota, with the level of inflammation reduced in their central nervous systems.

The results indicate that kefir’s effect on gut bacteria has an impact on signals sent by the brain to the rest of the system, with a balanced gut microbiome appearing to convince the brain to lower blood pressure to healthy levels.

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