Gut research finds link between red meat consumption, gut microbiome & cardiovascular disease risk.
In two recent studies scientists compared the microbiome of subjects who ate red meat, with subjects on a vegetarian diet. The subject’s different diets led to different gut microbiomes, and the bacteria in the meat eating guts produced a byproduct called trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO wasn’t found in vegetarian subjects because the scientists believe TMAO is produced from gut bacteria that live off of a protein found primarily in red meat.
What is the significance of TMAO?
Scientists believe TMAO is an important marker linked to the development of cardiovascular disease. For example, TMAO inhibits cholesterol from being cleared from your blood, induces the formation of fat filled cells that promote CVD, and stops liver from breaking fat down properly. All three of these physiological conditions are associated with atherosclerosis (artery hardening/narrowing) and CVD.
How can you lower risk from TMAO?
Research has not shown which of the “bad” gut bacteria make TMAO, however a few subtle diet changes and consistent intake of probiotics can keep your gut microbiome healthy and lower TMAO production.
Although the science around TMAO is still early and we do not know which the “bad” TMAO producing bacteria are, we can now appreciate why eating more fruits, vegetables and grains are good for us and how they can help us get a better behaving microbiome.