The increased risk of heart disease from red meat may stem from the response of gut microbes to digestion

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Research Highlights:

  • A new study finds that chemicals produced by gut microbes in the GI tract after eating red meat (such as beef, pork, bison, and venison) explain a significant portion of the cardiovascular disease risk associated with increased red meat consumption.

  • High blood sugar and inflammation may also contribute to the increased CVD risk associated with red meat consumption, however, blood pressure and cholesterol were not associated with increased CVD risk associated with red meat consumption.

  • General consumption of fish, poultry, and eggs was not associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

(NewMediaWire) – August 1, 2022 – DALLAS chemicals that are produced in the digestive system by gut microbes after eating red meat may help explain part of the cardiovascular disease risk associated with red meat consumption, according to new research published today in the American Heart Journal. . The Society’s Peer Review Journal Atherosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology (ATVB).

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and around the world. While the risk of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke, increases with age, other risk factors are influenced by lifestyle. Lifestyles and behaviors known to improve cardiovascular health include eating healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables; Regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a healthy body weight. Stop smoking and control high blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood sugar.

“Most of the focus on red meat intake and health has been around diet saturated fat and cholesterol levels,” said study co-lead author Ming Wang, PhD, and a postdoctoral fellow at the Friedman School of Nutritional Sciences. Politics at Tufts University in Boston. “Based on our findings, new interventions may be useful in targeting interactions between red meat and the gut microbiome to help us find ways to reduce cardiovascular disease risk.”

Previous research has found that certain metabolites and chemical by-products of food digestion are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. One such metabolite is TMAO, or trimethylamine N-oxide, which is produced by gut bacteria to digest red meat that contains high amounts of the chemical L-carnitine.

Elevated serum TMAO levels in humans may be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, and type 2 diabetes. However, whether TMAO and related metabolites derived from L-carnitine may help explain the effects of red meat intake on risk. Cardiovascular, and to what extent it may contribute to the cardiovascular risks associated with meat consumption, is still unknown.

To understand these questions, the researchers who conducted this study measured levels of metabolites in blood samples. They also examined whether blood sugar, inflammation, blood pressure and blood cholesterol might be responsible for the higher risk of cardiovascular disease associated with red meat consumption.

Study participants included nearly 4,000 of the 5,888 adults initially recruited from 1989 to 1990 for the Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS). Participants selected for the current study were free of clinical cardiovascular disease at the time of enrollment in the Human Basic Standard, an observational study of cardiovascular disease risk factors in adults 65 years of age or older. The Basic Human Standard followed 5,888 participants recruited from four communities: Sacramento, California; Hagerstown, Maryland; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The average age of enrolling participants was 73, nearly two-thirds of participants were female and 88% of participants identified themselves as white. The mean follow-up time for participants was 12.5 years and even 26 years in some cases. At the follow-up appointment, participants’ medical history, lifestyle, health conditions, and sociodemographic characteristics such as family income, education, and age were assessed.

Several blood biomarkers were measured at the start of the study and again in 1996-1997. Fasting blood samples frozen at -80 °C were tested for levels of several gut microbiomes associated with red meat consumption including TMAO, gamma-butyrobetaine and crotonobetaine.

In addition, all study participants answered two validated food frequency questionnaires about their usual eating habits, including intake of red meat, processed meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, at the start of the study and again from 1995 to 1996. For For the first survey, participants indicated how often, on average over the past 12 months, they ate certain amounts of different foods, ranging from ‘never’ to ‘almost every day or at least five times a week’, based on portion sizes. medium, which varies based on the food source. The second questionnaire used a ten-category frequency of average intake over the past 12 months, ranging from ‘never or less than once per month’ to ‘six + servings per day’, with specified standard portion sizes.

For the current analyses, researchers compared the risk of cardiovascular disease among participants who ate different amounts of animal-source foods (such as red meat, processed meat, fish, chicken, and eggs). They found that eating more meat, especially red meat and processed meat, was associated with an increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease — a 22% higher risk per 1.1 servings per day.

According to the authors, an increase in TMAO and related metabolites present in the blood explained approximately one-tenth of this elevated risk. They also noted that blood sugar and general inflammatory pathways may help explain the links between red meat intake and cardiovascular disease. Blood sugar and inflammation appear to be more important in linking red meat intake to cardiovascular disease than pathways related to blood cholesterol or blood pressure. Eating fish, poultry, and eggs has not been significantly linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

“Research efforts are needed to understand the potential health effects of L-carnitine and other substances in red meat such as heme iron, which are linked to type 2 diabetes, rather than focusing solely on saturated fat,” Wang said.

The study had several limitations that may have affected its results. The study was observational, meaning it cannot control for all risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and may not establish cause and effect between meat consumption and cardiovascular disease or mediated by chemicals generated from the gut microbiome. In addition, food consumption was self-reported, so errors in reporting were possible. Since most study participants were older white men and women in the United States, the results may not apply to younger or more racially diverse populations.

Co-lead author is Zeneng Wang, Ph.D. Co-authors are Eugene Lee, Ph.D.; Heidi TM Lay, Ph.D.; Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto, Ph.D.; Rozenn N. Lemaitre, Ph.D., MPH; Amanda Frits, Ph.D., MPH; Nonna Sotodhihnya, MD, MPH; Matthew Budoff, MD; Joseph A. Didonato, Ph.D.; Barbara McKnight, Ph.D.; W. Wilson Tang, MD; Bruce M. Basati, MD, Ph.D.; David S. Siscovick, MD, MPH; Stanley L. Hazen, MD, Ph.D.; and Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, Ph.D. The authors’ disclosures are listed in the manuscript.

The study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, with additional support from the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institute on Aging.

Studies published in the scientific journals of the American Heart Association are reviewed. The statements and conclusions contained in each manuscript are those of the study authors only and do not necessarily reflect the society’s policy or position. The Society makes no representation or warranty as to its accuracy or reliability. The association receives funding primarily from individuals; Organizations and corporations (including drug companies, device manufacturers, and other companies) make donations and fund specific association programs and events. The association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from affecting scientific content. Revenue from pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, device manufacturers and health insurance providers, and the association’s general financial information is available here.

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