Thursday, April 11, 2013

Well........It's looking like it's a wrap for Red Meat

Lookie here, my people.   I done told ya'll this excessive meat mess is not a good look.  As my man Macka B says, "No deadas, no feathers".   Empress nuh deal wid Babylon flesh 'round here.

Don't be's purely for aesthetics.
I'll let the data below speak for itself.

Photo Credit: UHM

A new study finally suggests a plausible link between red meat and cardiovascular disease.  These are some milestones we are making here!  This is something folks have been wondering about for the loooooooongest while.  We say, "Yes, consumption of red meat increases cardiovascular risk." but how?  The thing is the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat you get from diet was never enough to fully make that something else was going on.  This new study presents a nice explanation for the something else.   It is FASCINATING, utterly FASCINATING.  I won't get too into my science obsession here so I will just give you the goods as objectively and as briefly as possible.  I know my motor mouth too well.  :)

ALSO -------->Here is a Science Daily link to a brief summary of the study if you feel so inclined to check it out for yourself.........which I absolutely encourage.  I promise it's not that long.

Let's see what the study had to say.

The study had three approaches so it was nicely varied.  Someone's putting some thought in their studies.  I appreciate that.  Sometimes these studies are doing the most!  Biased design, skewed data, biased interpretation and the like. Mess.


One: They basically determined how much carnitine was inside omnivores, vegans and vegetarians.
Two: They examined clinical data from a bunch of patients (2,595) who were receiving what they call elective cardiac evaluations, which are basically tests to understand what is going on with your heart.
Three:  They experimented on Mickey Mouse comparing the effects of a regular rat chow diet and a carnitine diet.  I did feel bad for the little mice because the ones on the carnitine diet didn't fair so well.  You'll see what I mean.

So the study reveals that there is a lovely little bacteria growing in your gut that has a special ability.  Let's call him Carni Bac.  I like nicknames.  He can turn a compound known as carnitine into TMAO, trimethylamine-N-oxide.  To keep to my promise of not getting into details I will leave the chemical description of TMAO at that.

So what's important about TMAO?......well, I'm glad you asked.  TMAO is a metabolite that is specifically linked to the promotion of atherosclerosis: yucky fat clogging up your arteries.  Nasty and not pretty.   This is what it looks like:

Photo Credit:

So where is red meat in this whole picture?   I gotchu.  The study showed that a diet high in carnitine increased the risk for cardiovascular disease because it not only provides the carnitine that will be turned into TMAO by Carni Bac but also promotes growth of Carni Bac.  The thing is carnitine is actually essential for some cell functions BUT at super HIGH levels is where we have a problem because you gets lots of TMAO. Here is an excerpt from the paper:

"Although dietary ingestion is a major source of L-carnitine in omnivores, it is also endogenously produced in mammals from lysine and serves an essential function in transporting fatty acids into the mitochondrial compartment"

AKA, major sources of carnitine are diets rich in red meat such as beef, lamb, duck, and mutton.

The results showed significant dose-dependent associations between carnitine concentrations and risk for atherosclerosis-related diseases such as CAD (coronary artery disease), PAD (peripheral artery disease), and overall CVD (cardiovascular disease).  If you look at the graphs and the images presented in the results, it provides you with pretty solid evidence that TMAO promotes atherosclerosis.

Check out this image so you know I'm not making things up.  You can see the difference in the effect on blood vessels of a regular rat chow diet (Left) vs a carnitine diet (Right).  You see how the blood vessels on the right look EXTRA BUSTED.   I mean they're looking hurt.
Photo Credit: Nature Medicine

Now, here's the kicker.
They found that vegetarians and vegans had significantly lower levels of the Carni Bac, baseline TMAO and TMAO production.  Bangin bird food eaters don't eat a diet high in carnitine so Carni Bac is told to  SIT DOWN on a regular and thus it's much less active.  Here's a nice little excerpt from Stanley Hazen who headed up the research:

"The bacteria living in our digestive tracts are dictated by our long-term dietary patterns.  A diet high in carnitine actually shifts our gut microbe composition to those that like carnitine, making meat eaters even more susceptible to forming TMAO and its artery-clogging effects. Meanwhile, vegans and vegetarians have a significantly reduced capacity to synthesize TMAO from carnitine, which may explain the cardiovascular health benefits of these diets."

So, to wrap things up, red meat consumption increases the creation of TMAO, a compound that promotes atherosclerosis and also increases the ability of a bacteria in your gut to make TMAO to add more fuel to the atherosclerotic fire. 

Conclusion: It's looking like a wrap for red meat. Get plant strong and you'll be aiiight.

Side Note: Whenever I read anything, I need three things to come with that information.
1.  Source
2.  Data 
3.  Logic
For me it has to, Number One, come from a reputable journal.  Number Two, it needs to present good data.  Number Three, it has to make some daggone sense.  I operate off of logic so that is why everything I do must make sense and that's usually why everything I actually does make sense.  To me and Dios at least. :) But I'm also an artist at heart so there's wiggle room there.

So did this study fulfill those three requirements?

1. Source - Nature Medicine, the premier journal for biomedical research that is highly respected internationally.
2.  Data - Yep, I'm pretty sure.
3.  Logic - The concept isn't far-fetched.  We know diets high in saturated fat lead to atherosclerosis and heart disease.  In terms of the data, it follows logical thinking as you can see significant effects on blood vessels and increases in disease risk.  The approach was varied and included a CVD population assessment, experimentation, human subjects and mice models.  This is a great step in bettering our understanding of our bodies and what not to put in them.

See, I'm chilling.  Why?..............because there's no atherosclerosis over here. 

Thank you for reading!  Leave any thoughts you may have in your bangin' brain below in the comment section.  My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be happy and healthy.  Ciao!


  1. Look at you breaking down scientific articles for the laymen!
    Bangin' doctor here!

    1. Hahahahaha. Thanks Letish! Just working on my doc skills.