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An exciting study1 has explored potential new ways to lower cholesterol, using probiotic bacteria. Raised cholesterol levels, known as Hypercholesterolemia, can pose a significant risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease. Previous studies have been carried out which indicate the role probiotic bacteria may play in improving lipid metabolism, and this study demonstrated the benefits of a particular combination of Lactobacillus plantarum strains.
Lactobacillus planatrum strains in combination may be effective at lowering cholesterol
The study involved three strains (find out more in the Probiotics Learning Lab) of the bacteria Lactobacillus plantarum, CECT 7527, CECT 7528 and CECT 7529, known collectively as AB-LIFE. A total of 60 people, between the ages of 18-65, took part in the randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled study trial study, 30 in the L. plantarum group and 30 forming the placebo group. Half of the group took a daily capsule of the L. plantarum AB-Life strains, and the remaining half took a placebo product for 12 weeks. The group taking the L. plantarum strains observed a significant reduction in total cholesterol levels (TC), of 13.6%.
The AB-Life probiotic group demonstrated strong ability to survive gastrointestinal acidity, and ability to adhere to the gut wall. The combination of CECT 7527, CECT 7528 and CECT 7529 bacteria strains produced significant levels of bile salt hydrolase, which is effective at metabolising bile salts which contain lipids (fat), leading to decreased cholesterol in the blood. In addition these strains have a high ability to incorporate dietary fat into their bacterial cellular surface therefore reducing the absorption of saturated fat from the diet. The bacteria were also shown to create large quantities of both butyric acid and propionic acid, both of which are produced by the anaerobic bacterial fermentation process.
Overall the AB-Life probiotic group, made up of the CECT 7527, CECT 7528 and CECT 7529 bacteria strains, showed fantastic potential for their ability to reduce high blood cholesterol levels2.
Alternative methods for lowering cholesterol may be preferable to the use of statins
L. plantarum is a well studied bacteria species, typically linked to its benefits for helping with IBS. We always like to focus on the specific strains and in this instance the combination of 3 L. plantarum strains have clearly been identified for their ability to help lower cholesterol. The L. plantarum strain associated with IBS is L. plantarum Lp299v, which has been clinically trialled on participants with IBS. You can read all about probiotics and IBS on the Probiotics Learning Lab.
Prescription drugs, namely statins, are currently used to help lower cholesterol levels, and are recommended throughout the UK by doctors to successfully maintain healthy cholesterol levels in patients. We would always recommend patients follow their GP's advice, and talk to their doctors about any unwanted side effects or other health concerns regarding their medications, as statins may carry the risk of unwanted side effects. It is important not to stop any prescribed medication before talking to your doctor first. In the event that a patient is given time to lower cholesterol levels through diet, or wishes to take a natural supplement alongside statins, we are very excited about this gold standard clinical trial on the probiotic strains above.
You can find the strains mentioned in this article in Optibac 'For your cholesterol'.