Livin' on the MDedge

Werewolf babies, blinding fries, and the gut library


Mouthwash in my veins

Let’s say you’re a person with hypertension. After years of your doctor badgering you to do more cardio exercise, you’ve finally committed to the morning jog. It’s a pain getting up that early in the morning, but the benefits will be worth it, right? You head back to your physician, eager to show off the new you. The doctor weighs you (down a few pounds, not bad), then takes a blood pressure reading, and ... it’s exactly the same.

Hands pouring mouthwash into a cup belchonock/Getty Images

What happened? Was all that work wasted?

Well, according to a study published in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, you may have an excuse: mouthwash usage.

It all has to do with nitric acid. Normally during cardio exercise, bacteria in the mouth convert nitrates into nitrites, and when these nitrites are swallowed, they are converted into nitric acid after being absorbed by the circulatory system. That widens the blood vessels and reduces blood pressure. Mouthwash changes all that. It inhibits those oral bacteria, and the whole process is stopped before it can begin.

The investigators found that, after 1 hour of exercise on a treadmill, study participants who received mouthwash beforehand saw their systolic blood pressure reduced by 2 mm Hg. And those who received the placebo (mint-flavored water)? They saw a 5.2-mm Hg reduction.

Bottom line to those with hypertension: You may have to start flossing. We know it’s annoying, but it’ll make your doctor happy, and it’ll make your dentist especially happy.

No books at this library

The human microbiome is a pretty hot scientific topic right now, but we here at LOTME are not scientists, or doctors, or experts of any kind, so we have a simple question: What’s in a gut?

woman holding schematic of large and small intestines LightFieldStudios/Getty Images

Happily (yes, this is the sort of thing that makes us happy), researchers at MIT and the Broad Institute, both in Cambridge, Mass., have taken a very detailed look at the guts of about 90 people, with a dozen or so providing samples for up to 2 years, and can now tell us what’s in a gut: bacteria. Lots of bacteria … 7,758 different strains of bacteria.

According to a statement from MIT, the samples were obtained “through the OpenBiome organization, which collects stool samples for research and therapeutic purposes.” It also sounds like a fun place to work.

Those samples presented “a unique opportunity, and we thought that would be a great set of individuals to really try to dig down and characterize the microbial populations more thoroughly,” said Eric Alm, PhD, one of the investigators.

All of their data, along with samples of the bacteria strains they isolated, are available online at the Broad Institute–OpenBiome Microbiome Library. Which, if you think about it (and that is what we do here), makes it kind of like an Amazon for bacteria.

Hmmm … Alexa, order Turicibacter sanguinis. Uncle Leo’s birthday is coming up.

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