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Monday, April 29, 2013

Gut Bacteria and Heart Disease -- the saga continues

On 4/11/2013, I wrote about a recent trial published by Dr Hazen. In this trial, Dr Hazen reported that intestinal bacteria convert carnitine (found in red meat) into a metabolite called TMAO which has been shown to be atherogenic. Dr Hazen is now reporting that similar finding occur within the gut with ingestion of lecithin found in eggs.

The importance of these two studies is not that red meat or eggs can lead to heart disease, but the take home message is that the bacteria in our gut play a possible important role in our development of heart disease.

While we know that controlling blood glucose levels, blood pressure and lipid levels are very important in reducing an individuals risk for the development of atherosclerosis, there remains a significant residual risk. Dr Hazen's work has begun to show us that measuring TMAO in the blood, may help us predict further cardiovascular risk. Even more so, further research in this field may lead to new pathways for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

For now, it is important to understand that more research on this topic will definitely be undertaken. Also, a well balanced Mediterranean diet with liberal/limited portions of animal based products is still the most heart healthy way to eat.

I will continue to report back to you on this topic whenever new data is released.

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