Drinking fermented probiotic milk beverage, kefir, may have a positive effect on blood pressure by promoting communication between the gut and brain, a study claims.
Kefir is known to help maintain the balance of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system.
Researchers from Auburn University in the US and the University of Vila Velha in Brazil studied three groups of rats to determine how kefir reduces high blood pressure (hypertension).
"Our data suggests that kefir antihypertensive-associated mechanisms involve gut microbiota-brain axis communication during hypertension," the researchers said.
Previous research has shown that an imbalance in the guts colony of bacteria (microbiota) may cause high blood pressure in some people.
Similarly, probiotics - live bacteria supplements that are beneficial to the digestive system - have been found to lower blood pressure, but the mechanisms by which this occurs are unclear.
After nine weeks of kefir supplementation, the treated rats had lower levels of endotoxins (toxic substances associated with disruption in the cells), lower blood pressure and improved intestinal permeability when compared with the untreated group.
Healthy intestines allow some substances to pass through, but generally act as a barrier to keep out harmful bacteria and other potentially dangerous substances.
In addition, kefir supplementation restored the natural balance of four different bacteria in the gut and of an enzyme in the brain essential for normal nervous system function, suggesting that the nervous and digestive systems work together to reduce hypertension.