(ORDO NEWS) — Australian researchers have demonstrated that a specially formulated form of fermentable fiber can lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension.
Doctors have long suggested that dietary changes should be the first treatment option for hypertension in patients.
This intervention is known as DASH (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension) and has proven to be incredibly effective in lowering blood pressure in many patients.
Fiber against high blood pressure
However, the question of exactly how DASH lowers blood pressure is still the subject of much research.
The most common hypothesis is that the diet causes positive changes in the gut microbiome by increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which subsequently leads to a normalization of blood pressure.
Francine Marquez of Monash University’s School of Biosciences has been studying the relationship between these SCFA metabolites and blood pressure for several years.
Previous preclinical studies have shown that acetate and butyrate in particular can lower blood pressure in animal models.
So Marquez and colleagues wondered if an artificial type of fiber could be used to help our gut microbes produce consistently high levels of beneficial SCFAs.
The researchers turned to high amylose cornstarch and were able to modify it to include acetate and butyrate. The final product is called HAMSAB (high amylose acetylated and butylated corn starch).
When our gut microbes ferment HAMSAB, large amounts of acetate and butyrate are released into the colon.
The question this clinical study was supposed to answer was whether taking HAMSAB supplements in patients with hypertension could effectively lower blood pressure.
Twenty participants with untreated hypertension were recruited. For three weeks, participants took daily supplements of either HAMSAB or a placebo.
After a three-week washout period, the placebo and HAMSAB groups switched supplements so that by the end of the experiment, all 20 participants had tried both treatments.
Blood tests showed that HAMSAB supplementation significantly increased circulating levels of acetate and butyrate. These plasma levels were higher than could be achieved with standard dietary changes.
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