Turns Out It Might Not Be The Fat And Cholesterol That Most Harm Your Heart.
Gerald J. Joseph B.S., M.Ed. Health Coach
Turns out it might not be the fat and cholesterol in red meat that most harm your heart. It could be how bacteria in your gut interact with the food.
Researchers are still trying figure out how something in the gut can affect your heart?
It turns out that microbes in the gut produce molecules that end up in the bloodstream that can affect heart heath.
Such busy microbes may account for much of the individual variation in heart health.
Large-scale genetic studies suggest hereditary factors can account for only about 15 percent of cardiovascular risk, meaning environmental causes account for the rest, said cardiologist Stanley Hazen, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute.
For more than 15 million years, human beings have co-evolved with thousands of microbial species that take up residence in the lowermost part of the intestine, earning their keep by helping us digest food components that we are unable to break down by ourselves, chiefly dietary fiber; manufacturing vitamins and other health-enhancing molecules; training our immune system and fostering the maturation of cells in our gut; and guarding our intestinal turf against the intrusion of all-too-eager competing microbial species including pathogens.
The advent of agriculture about 12,500 to 15,000 years ago has radically altered the human diet. In the past century alone, the typical person’s lifestyle has undergone further vast alterations including labor-saving devices,’ encouragement of a sedentary existence, the introduction of antibiotics and of birth by cesarean section, and the gradual supplanting of fiber-filled whole fruits, raw nuts, root vegetables, legumes and vegetables by increasingly processed and fiber-free foods.
Rebalancing and maintaining bacterial ratios in the gastrointestinal tract is the first step necessary towards improving health.
The human body is home to 100 trillion microbial cells, more than ten times the amount of human cells, and most of these microbes reside in the gastrointestinal tract. In a normally functioning gut, food is broken down by acidic and enzymatic secretions by both the human and gut microbiota and further metabolized into substances that affect a person’s physical and mental health, which affects their ability to work productively.
These wonderful microbes also create an array of vitamins, neurotransmitters, and short chain fatty acids for fueling intestinal cells and improving mineral absorption in the GI tract, which helps to improve heart health.
Simple put, our ancient genome has not had the time to adapt with the nutritional qualities of recently introduced foods (grains, sugar, trans-fat, alter animal proteins) that may underlie many of the chronic diseases facing our global civilization where the Western American diet has been introduced.
By returning to a simpler ancestral hunter-gatherer diet, one high in plant based food fats, root vegetables, whole fruits, raw nuts, seeds and moderate amounts of marine and animal proteins, low in grains, dairy, and a few measured steps everyday, we can prevent and reverse most if not all manmade chronic disease syndromes such as health disease, type II diabetes and obesity.
The key to great heart health starts and stops with the health of the microbiome, the gut.
So stay tuned for more about gut health and how to improve your microbiota (a community of microorganisms) by consuming more plant-based foods high in pre-biotics and fiber.
Achieving and maintaining a balanced GI microbiota is the first step in producing great heart health.
(1) Gut Bacteria Hold Clues To Heart Health, AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS, http://news.heart.org/gut-bacteria-hold-clues-to-heart-health/
(2) How Gut Bacteria May Help Curb Your Heart Disease, Cleveland Clinic, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/12/how-gut-bacteria-may-help-curb-heart-disease/
(3) Torgan, C. (2013). Red Meat-Heart Disease Link Involves Gut Microbes. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/april2013/04222013meat.htm
(5) Newby, P., Maras, J., Bakun, P., & Muller, D. (2007). Intake of whole grains, refined grains, and cereal fiber measured with 7-d diet records and associations with risk factors for chronic disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
(6) Perlmutter, D., & Loberg, K. (n.d.). Grain brain: The surprising truth about wheat, carbs, and sugar–your brain’s silent killers.
(7) Amano A, Kuboniwa M, Nakagawa I, Akiyama S, Morisaki I, Hamada S. Prevalence of specific genotypes of Porphyromonas gingivalis fimA and periodontal health status. J Dent Res. 2000;79:1664–8. [PubMed]
(8) Marteau, P. (2009). Bacterial flora in inflammatory bowel disease. Digestive Diseases, 27:99–103.
(9) Tamboli, C. P., Neut, C., Desreumaux, P., & Colombel, J. F. (2004). Dysbiosis in inflammatory bowel disease. Gut, 53(1):1–4.
(10) Torgan, C. (2013). Red meat-heart disease link involves gut microbes. National Institutes of Health. Retrieved March 1, 2015, from http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/april2013/04222013meat.htm