Blood Pressure Regulation by Oral MicrobiomeMarch 24, 2016 | Illustration Lab
1. You swallow the nitrate-rich beetroot juice.
2. The nitrate (NO3−) content is taken up by your intestine into your blood and transported to your salivary glands.
3. Your salivary glands actively fish out the nitrate of your blood and concentrate it to high levels (4-8 mM) into your saliva.
4. The bacteria in your mouth reduce the nitrate in your saliva to nitrite (NO2−).
5. (a) Your saliva, which is now nitrite rich, is swallowed. (b) This nitrite enters your blood via the gut.
6. In our blood and tissues, there are several processes that further reduce nitrite into nitric oxide (NO).
7. One of the many effects that nitric oxide has on the body is vasodilation. This means that nitric oxide expands your blood vessels thereby decreasing your blood pressure.
This illustration was based on a review by Hezel & Weitzberg (2015) that explains how drinking beetroot juice acutely lowers blood pressure. We were fascinated by the fact that the oral microbiome (i.e., the bacteria that live in your mouth) has an essential role in this.
This figure was published in our blog “Mouthwash can increase your blood pressure by disrupting an unexpected symbiosis!“.