How to Develop a Healthy Gut Ecosystem

How to grow a healthy gut ecosystem

Like I said before, whether you are young or old, men or women, smokers or not, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, with high or low cholesterol, the presence of high levels of a toxic compound, called TMAO – trimethylamine N-oxide – in a person’s blood is associated with a significantly higher risk from receiving a heart attack, stroke or death in the next 3 years.

Where does this trimethylamine N-oxide thing come from? Choline in foods like eggs can be converted to trimethylamine N-oxide by our gut bacteria, which is then absorbed back into the body and the more eggs we eat, the higher the levels jump.

Given the similarity in the structure of carnitine and choline, the same group of researchers at Cleveland Clinics wondered whether the carnitine found in red meat, energy drinks and nutritional supplements, may also produce trimethylamine N-oxide, so they put this to the test.

If you let someone eat a steak, their trimethylamine N-oxide levels will shoot up. Now, this is a person who eats meat regularly. Those who eat strictly on a plant-based basis, can start with almost no trimethylamine N-oxide available in their body, probably because they don’t eat any meat, eggs or dairy, but even if a vegan eats beef fillet, almost no trimethylamine N-oxide is generated. Why?

They probably don’t have the bacteria that eat the steak in their gut. No trimethylamine N-oxide is produced unless you have bacteria in your gut to produce it. If you do not eat meat regularly, then you are not promoting growth meat-eating microbes that produce trimethylamine N-oxide.

This suggests that once we develop a plant-based intestinal ecosystem, our bacteria will not produce trimethylamine N-oxide, even if we eat meat from time to time. However, we still do not know how quickly the bacteria in the gut change after a change in our diet, but it doesn’t seem to be all or nothing.

If you take men eating the standard American diet and make them eat two sausages, an egg and a cookie with cheese before and after, just 5 days of eating high fat foods like these, you can stimulate the production of trimethylamine N-oxide even more.

So it’s not just about having bad bacteria or not, you can obviously grow as much of them as you feed them. On the other hand, eating without meat has been established, that it has a major impact on human metabolism. You can analyze urine samples and see what people are eating, based on measurements such as how low the levels of trimethylamine N-oxide are in the urine of those who eat eggs without a vegetarian diet.

You can even take the same people and rotate them into 3 different types of meals and it will be possible to determine who is who. Who eats a lot of meat, a little meat, or no meat, of parts based on different ingredients, produced from different gut flora or different flora activity only after about two weeks on a different diet. Some of the beneficial effects of unprocessed plant foods are possible due to the impact they have on our gut bacteria.

At the same time, the standard American diet can increase the relative abundance of undesirables, which produce toxic substances, including the cardiotoxic trimethylamine N-oxide.

A rigorous plant-based diet has gained continuity as a nutrition strategy for the prevention and treatment of diseases; maybe in part because of the rather unique gut flora, less of the bacteria causing the disease and more of the species with protective function.

So all the time we thought that the reason those eating a plant-based diet have a low rate of cardiovascular disease, is because they eat less saturated fat and cholesterol, but perhaps their lower levels of trimethylamine N-oxide maybe they also add to the benefits, due to the reduction of carnitine and choline intake.

I have talked about the egg industry’s response to the choline discoveries. How does the carnitine food supplement industry react? Former Vice President of Advocate, a multilevel marketing company, which sells carnitine supplements like Straw, while being shattered by cases that accuse them, for example in false, misleading, or deceptive practices, forced to pay over one million dollars in response to a study suggesting carnitine in the production of trimethylamine N-oxide, he questions whether there is any secret vegan conspiracy at the Cleveland Clinic.

By limiting your intake of meat or nutritional supplements with carnitine, to prevent our gut bacteria from producing trimethylamine N-oxide, he argues, “It’s like preventing road accidents by restricting fuel sales.” Um, good, but there are benefits to transport. Here we are talking about trimethylamine N-oxide, which may be fueling an epidemic of cardiovascular disease, the number one killer of men and women in this country.

As for me, I think the more we reduce the fuel for this … that much better.


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