Diet, bugs and beating high blood pressure
It is known that changing diet can be effective in reducing high blood pressure but now new research, led by a scientist at the University of Kent, has revealed that people's natural gut bacteria can alter the effectiveness of dietary change.
Researchers used urinary 'finger-printing' to determine the effects of three 'healthy' diets on volunteers with moderately high blood pressure. The method allowed researchers to evaluate individual responses to carbohydrate-rich, protein-rich and monounsaturated fat-rich diets and monitor how closely the volunteers followed the diet.
The research suggests that there is the potential for the development of treatment plans for high blood pressure that take into account the metabolic and microbiological background of the individual. Dr Ruey Leng Loo, of Kent's Medway School of Pharmacy, working in a team with researchers from Imperial College London and Johns Hopkins University in the US, studied urine samples from 158 study participants.
The researchers found that each of the three healthy diets generally produced reduced blood pressure in most of the participants but that a small proportion of individuals responded less well to healthy diets. This was found to be due to individual differences in their gut bacteria, which were detected by identifying bacterial metabolites in the urine.
Dr Loo said that, although further research was needed, it would be feasible in the future for diabetologists, cardiologists and dieticians to adopt a new approach in identifying an individuals' clinical response to diet therapy, as well their adherence to prescribed diets.
The study, entitled Characterization of metabolic responses to healthy diets and the association with blood pressure: application to the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for Heart Health (OmniHeart), a randomized control study (Ruey Leng Loo, Xin Zou (both Medway School of Pharmacy, universities of Kent and Greenwich; Laurence J Appel, Johns Hopkins University; Jeremy Nicholson and Elaine Holmes, Imperial College London) is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. See: https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqx072
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Notes to editors
Established in 1965, the University of Kent – the UK's European university – now has almost 20,000 students across campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome.
It has been ranked 22nd in the Guardian University Guide 2018 and 25th in the Complete University Guide 2018, and in June 2017 was awarded a gold rating, the highest, in the UK Government's Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).In the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2015-16, it is in the top 10% of the world's leading universities for international outlook and 66th in its table of the most international universities in the world. The THE also ranked the University as 20th in its 'Table of Tables' 2016.
Kent is ranked 17th in the UK for research intensity (REF 2014). It has world-leading research in all subjects and 97% of its research is deemed by the REF to be of international quality. In the National Student Survey 2016, Kent achieved the fourth highest score for overall student satisfaction, out of all publicly funded, multi-faculty universities. Along with the universities of East Anglia and Essex, Kent is a member of the Eastern Arc Research Consortium (http://www.kent.ac.uk/about/partnerships/eastern-arc.html). The University is worth £0.7 billion to the economy of the south east and supports more than 7,800 jobs in the region. Student off-campus spend contributes £293.3m and 2,532 full-time-equivalent jobs to those totals.
Kent has received two Queen's Anniversary prizes for Higher and Further Education.