Prime Cuts, 11 November 2020
Last year a group of scientists published a study dismissing the notion that red meat increases the risk of heart disease and cancer.
Now, a group of scientists from Oregon State University discovered that animal-based diets may actually decrease your risk of contracting heart disease after conducting a “meta-analysis of data from foundational gut microbiome studies.”
According to the study’s lead author Veronika Kivenson:
“The connection between TMAO and cardiovascular disease has tended to focus the conversation on how animal-based diets cause negative health consequences. But in analyzing data from foundational gut microbiome studies, we uncovered evidence that one type of bacteria associated with meat consumption can take the TMA, as well as precursors to TMA, and metabolize them without producing any TMAO. That means those bacteria are in effect severing a key link in the cardiovascular disease chain.”
Put in simpler terms: Previous studies found that when you eat meat, your body takes a chemical called TMA and turns it into a metabolite called TMAO. TMAO can create plaque in your arteries, which causes heart disease. This new study indicates that a naturally occurring gut bacteria called Bilophila can stop your body from producing TMAO, thus preventing this meat metabolite from contributing to atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Additionally, prior research shows meat inclusive diets actually fill your gut with Bilophila, and that healthy people tend to have more of this bacteria in their gut than people with heart disease.
So what makes this study more reliable than the anti-meat studies?
For one, it uses data from gut samples rather than relying on people to remember what they put down their gullet. Most nutritional are based on observational studies, which require participants to accurately recall past meals, portion sizes, and ingredients from days, sometimes weeks, ago. Can you remember what you ate two weeks ago, including every snack?
The study’s authors recommend the issue be studied further, but it’s worth taking notice of their research so far.