Heart health

True health starts in your gut: Heart health

Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) kill 17.9 million people every year, accounting for approximately 32% of death worldwide. This family of diseases including hypertension, coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and rheumatic heart disease have long been linked to smoking, sedentary behavior, obesity, poor diet and alcohol abuse, but are we missing a critical factor? New research reveals that the gut may hold the answer to preventing this family of diseases and protecting your heart.

What is the cardiovascular system?

The cardiovascular system, also known as the circulatory system, refers to your heart and blood vessels. The purpose of the cardiovascular system is to deliver oxygen and critical macro and micronutrients to cells throughout the body. It also delivers carbon dioxide and other waste products to organs such as the lungs, kidneys and liver for removal.

How does the gut affect heart health?

Over recent years, scientists focused on cardiovascular health have turned their attention to the microbiome. They’ve found that unhealthy changes in the microbiome, cumulatively known as dysbiosis, is linked to diseases including atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart failure, chronic kidney disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. This is what they’ve found.


TMA or trimethylamine is produced by microbes in the gut when they metabolize L-carnitine, choline and phosphatidylcholine, primarily in animal products. This molecule is then oxidized in the liver to TMAO (trimethylamine N-oxide) and released into circulation. This molecule increases the risk of arterial plaque formation as it travels through the vascular system and is therefore linked to increased risk of CVD. High plant-based diets (which are also higher in fiber) are linked to lower levels of TMAO.


Short-chain-fatty-acids are produced when microbes in the gut ferment the soluble fibers in your food. Increased SCFA levels are linked with lower risk of CVD and research has shown that prebiotics that lead to increased SCFA can significantly decrease blood pressure.

Microbial translocation

The intestinal wall acts as a barrier to keep harmful substances out of circulation. However, when there is damage to the cells that compose that wall, microbes that are harmless in the gut can make their way into your circulatory system and cause chronic damage to peripheral tissues and organs. In fact, conditions such as chronic kidney disease, pancreatitis, liver diseases and musculoskeletal inflammation.

What are the risks of developing cardiovascular disease?

While there are genetic factors associated with CVD, lifestyle and environmental factors are more important and more controllable causes of CVD. These are well-known causes of diseases of the circulatory system:

  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • High-sugar diet
  • Smoking
  • Low-fiber diet
  • Chronic use of medications such as PPI
  • Chronic stress
  • Anemia (low hemoglobin)
  • Over-training/over-exercising
  • Autoimmune diseases/chronic inflammation

What can I do to support a healthy heart and vascular system?

  1. Reduce sugar
  2. Moderate animal protein intake
  3. Eat a variety of plants each day
  4. Avoid processed and inflammatory foods
  5. Consume collagen
  6. Consider a probiotic
  7. Be mindful of antibiotics
  8. Hit your daily fiber goals

Where Florasophy comes in

Florasophy is a soluble fiber supplement that makes it easy to reach your fiber goals each day. Each tablespoon of Florasophy contains 4 grams of soluble fiber, in a clinical blend of different fibers that was designed to optimize overall health. Florasophy users have reported improvement in their quality of life simply by adding a customized serving to their daily routine.

About Megan Barnett, MS, CNS

Megan Barnett, MSMegan Barnett is a functional medicine practitioner in Portland, Oregon. In her clinical practice, she helps patients identify the root cause of their health problems, then designs individualized and evidence-based approaches to alleviate symptoms and help their bodies heal. She has a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from Kansas State University and a Master of Science in Nutrition and Functional Medicine from University of Western States.