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Diet

All responsible nutritionists recommend a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and other heart-healthy foods. Such a diet helps maintain normal body weight, blood pressure, or cholesterol levels. A proper diet is supported by physical activity, adequate sleep, quitting smoking and limited alcohol consumption. It's no secret that eating a lot of meat, especially red meat, increases the risk of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. A recent study indicates that metabolites produced by our gut bacteria activated by our preference for a diet full of meat may be particularly harmful.

Researchers from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy (Tufts University) and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute have examined the risk ofatherosclerotic cardiovascular disease ( ASCVD) associated with meat consumption and identified underlying biological pathways. This is the first study to address the relationship between animal-based foods and ASCVD risk and the mediation of this risk by compounds produced by bacteria (the gut microbiota), as well as traditional ASCVD risk factors such as blood cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

The study was based on an analysis of multi-year data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Cardiovascular Health Study (CHS), a long-term observational study of cardiovascular disease risk factors in Americans aged 65 and older. The study found that higher consumption of unprocessed red meat, total meat consumption (unprocessed plus processed red meat), and total animal food consumption were associated with a higher incidence of ASCVD - at about 1.1 servings per day, the risk increased by 22%. About 10% of this increased risk was associated with elevated levels of three metabolites produced by gut bacteria from nutrients found in meat. Higher risks and associations with gut bacteria metabolites were found for red meat, but not for poultry, eggs or fish. Their consumption was not significantly associated with ASCVD. The higher risk of ASCVD was related to blood glucose and insulin levels, and in the case of processed meats, also to general inflammation. In contrast, it had no effect on either blood pressure or blood cholesterol levels.

The conclusion? More vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grain products, less money spent on drugs!




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