COLLEYVILLE One way Danielle Saccomanno stays healthy is by ingesting billions of bacteria every day.
'I feel like they help strengthen my immune system,' she said, 'so I try to take them regularly.'
Research now shows that taking good bacteria probiotics can do more than increase immunity.
A new study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension shows that taking supplements and eating foods like yogurt that contain the live microorganisms could lower high blood pressure by as much as three points.
'Even with a small reduction like that, it can show a 22 percent decrease in heart attacks and strokes,' said Bryan Bradford, a certified nutritionist at the Sunflower Shoppe natural foods store.
The research was a retrospective analysis of nine studies involving more than 500 patients. Patients with positive outcomes used probiotics routinely for at least eight weeks.
Probiotics work by increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut, Bradford explained. That improves digestion, which in turn increases the absorption of nutrients.
'When you absorb nutrition, it requires a lot of that good bacteria to break this down to get your calcium, your iron, your vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E,' Bradford said. 'They're all broken down through good bacteria, and this helps us with healing throughout the body.'