Is Your Mouthwash Mitigating Some of the Health Benefits of Your Exercise?

Do you use mouthwash?  A new study suggests that using mouthwash may lessen the blood pressure-lowering effects of exercise.

An international team of scientists has shown that the blood pressure-lowering effect of exercise is significantly reduced when people rinse their mouths with antibacterial mouthwash, rather than water — showing the importance of oral bacteria in cardiovascular health.

The researchers now suggest that health professionals should pay attention to the oral environment when recommending interventions involving physical activity for high blood pressure.

The study was led by the University of Plymouth in collaboration with the Centre of Genomic Regulation in Barcelona (Gabaldon’s lab), Spain, and was published in the journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine.

Craig Cutler, study co-author who conducted the research as part of his PhD at the University of Plymouth, said, “These findings show that nitrite synthesis by oral bacteria is hugely important in kick-starting how our bodies react to exercise over the first period of recovery, promoting lower blood pressure and greater muscle oxygenation.”

“In effect, it’s like oral bacteria are the ‘key’ to opening up the blood vessels. If they are removed, nitrite can’t be produced and the vessels remain in their current state. Existing studies show that, exercise aside, antibacterial mouthwash can actually raise blood pressure under resting conditions, so this study followed up and showed the mouthwash impact on the effects of exercise.”

Cutler continued, “The next step is to investigate in more detail the effect of exercise on the activity of oral bacteria and the composition of oral bacteria in individuals under high cardiovascular risk. Long-term, research in this area may improve our knowledge for treating hypertension — or high blood pressure — more efficiently.”

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