An article, by Chris Woolston, in Nature News confirms what many people already know, namely, that eating too much red meat is bad for the heart; this is not a new finding, but what is new is another reason why. It has to do with the intestinal microbes found in our gut and how it treats a common nutrient l-carnitine found in red meat.
Lean steak is low in fat and cholesterol and high in protein — qualities normally considered healthy. But eating a lot of it can still cause heart disease. Researchers have now laid the blame on bacteria in the human gut that convert a common nutrient found in beef into a compound that may speed up the build-up of plaques in the arteries.
The results are published in Nature Medicine today 1. Co-author Stanley Hazen, head of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, says that the study could signal a new approach to diet and health. In some cases, an individual’s collection of intestinal microbes may be as important to their diet as anything on a nutrition label, he says. “Bacteria make a whole slew of molecules from food,” he says, “and those molecules can have a huge effect on our metabolic processes.”
Consumption of red meat has been found to increase the risk of death from heart disease, even when controlling for levels of fat and cholesterol 2. To find out why, Hazen and his colleagues gave the nutrient l-carnitine — found in red meat and dairy products — to 77 volunteers, including 26 who were vegans or vegetarians. One committed vegan even agreed to eat a 200-gram sirloin steak.
Tests showed that consuming l-carnitine increased blood levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a compound that, evidence suggests, can alter the metabolism of cholesterol and slow the removal of cholesterol that accumulates on arteries' walls.My family and I have reduced our consumption of red meat, eating much less today than a few years ago. Steak on the barbecue tastes great, as does hamburgers and hot dogs. But as it seems the case today, moderation is the key. Our bodies are not divorced from ourselves. It's important not only to treat our bodies well, not to abuse it, but also to look at our bodies as part of a complicated system that dictates to a large degree on how we feel and think. There is a direct correlation between good physical health and good mental health.
You can read the rest of the article at [NatureNews]