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The Silent Bacteria Linked to Heart Disease

By Kelley Herring

In my previous articles published in this newsletter, we’ve covered the many ways that bacteria in your gut influence your health.

Gut bacteria can contribute to brain diseases like Parkinson’s, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s. These microbes can promote acne and autoimmune disease like multiple sclerosis. They can even have an effect on behavioral, mood, and learning issues.

Your microbiome can have a widespread impact on all of your bodily systems and overall health.

And new research shows that a specific type of bacteria – which commonly causes colds, sinus infections, and pneumonia – may live in your gut for decades, while quietly setting the stage for heart disease.


The Little-Known Gut Bug Linked with Heart Disease

What is this bug? Chlamydia pneumoniae.

It is best known for causing pneumonia. But this bacterium is also linked with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and, more recently, heart disease.[i][ii]

In fact, C. pneumoniae was found in 79% of people with carotid artery plaque versus just 4% of people with no plaque![iii]

Like most “bad bugs”, Chlamydia pneumoniae can increase levels of inflammation. In turn, this can increase the risk of chronic diseases, like heart disease.

This is why it is so important to keep an eye on your levels of inflammation. When it comes to the health of your heart be sure your doctor is checking your C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), fibrinogen, and ferritin levels.

If any of these are elevated, find out if C. pneumoniae is present by requesting a lab test. If so, your doctor will be able to treat you effectively with a simple course of antibiotics.


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Shift Your Microbiome to Protect Your Heart

Of course, what we eat (and what we don’t eat) has the biggest impact on the long-term health of our microbiome.

In previous studies, an animal-based diet has been shown to shift gut bacteria in a positive direction. We now know it is for this very reason that the butter-and-cream-loving French have lower rates of heart disease.[iv]

That’s because butter and cheese boost a unique anti-inflammatory compound in the gut called butyrate. This tiny molecule is now being called “the bread and butter of the gut-brain axis” because it acts as a regulator between your microbes and your body.

And this is also why it shows promising effects in various chronic diseases, including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer as well as neurological disorders.[v][vi]

So, when it comes to the health of your heart, be sure to regularly check your inflammatory markers. And enjoy an ancestral diet, low in carbs and rich in healthy fats, including anti-inflammatory omega-3 from wild seafood and CLA from grass-fed and pastured meats.


kelley herring

Kelley Herring

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[i] Schumacher, H. R., 2000, Chlamydia-associated arthritis, Isr. Med. Assoc. J. 2:532-535.

[ii] Porritt RA, Crother TR. Chlamydia pneumoniae Infection and Inflammatory Diseases. For Immunopathol Dis Therap. 2016;7(3-4):237-254.

[iii] Campbell LA, Kuo C, Grayston JT. Chlamydia pneumoniae and Cardiovascular Disease. Emerg Infect Dis. 1998;4(4):571-579.

[iv] Zheng H, Yde CC, Clausen MR, et al. Metabolomics Investigation to Shed Light on Cheese as a Possible Piece in the French Paradox Puzzle. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2015;63(10):2830-2839.

[v] Stilling RM, van de Wouw M, Clarke G, Stanton C, Dinan TG, Cryan JF. The neuropharmacology of butyrate: The bread and butter of the microbiota-gut-brain axis? Neurochem Int. 2016 Oct;99:110-132.

[vi] Chen W, Zhang S, Wu J, Ye T, Wang S, Wang P, Xing D. Butyrate-producing bacteria and the gut-heart axis in atherosclerosis. Clin Chim Acta. 2020 Aug;507:236-241. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2020.04.037. Epub 2020 May 4. PMID: 32376324.