“A compound produced in the intestine when we eat Red meat would damage our arteries and could play a key role in increasing the risk of cardiac disease as we age, “according to new research from the University of Colorado Boulder (USA).
Damage to the cardiovascular system occurs naturally with age. The aging of the arteries is called arteriosclerosis. This phenomenon is very often associated with lipid deposits (cholesterol) on the internal wall of the arteries. It is one of the main risk factors for heart disease.
However, according to the new study, we would be able to prevent or even reverse this decline if we adapt our food.
“Our work shows for the first time that not only does a compound directly affect arterial function, but it can also contribute to the damage to the cardiovascular system that occurs naturally with age, “said first author Vienna Brunt, postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Integrative Physiology.
The more you eat red meat, the faster your arteries will age
When you consume a piece of steak, according to scientists, your intestines take care of breaking it down after a meal. “By metabolizing the amino acids L-carnitine and choline, your gut bacteria produce a metabolic byproduct called trimethylamine, which the liver converts to trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) before releasing it into your circulation sanguine“, describes the study.
The more you eat red meat, the more you feed the bacteria that produce it.
Previous studies have already shown that people with higher blood levels of TMAO are twice as likely to have a heart attack or one stroke. These same people tend to die earlier. And it is on this theory that researchers base themselves when they suggest that red meat contributes to the aging of arteries.
Adults with higher blood levels of TMAO had greater signs of oxidative stress
The researchers analyzed the blood and blood pressure of 101 elderly people and 22 young adults. They found that the levels of TMAO increased considerably with age.
“Adults with higher blood levels of TMAO had significantly worse arterial function and showed greater signs of oxidative stress or tissue damage in the lining of their blood vessels,” the study further describes.
Additionally, in previous work, researchers had released TMAO into the blood vessels of mouse. Their arteries had aged considerably.
“Just putting it in their diet made them look like old mice,” said Brunt. Clearly, 12-month-old mice (the human equivalent of about 35 years of age) looked more like 27-month-old mice (80 years in humans) after being administered TMAO for several weeks.
In addition, this phenomenon does not seem to affect only the arteries. “Preliminary data also show that mice with higher levels of TMAO exhibit a decrease inlearning and memory, which suggests that the compound may also play a role in cognitive decline linked to age “, add the researchers.
Aging of the arteries: a plant-based diet could reverse it
Researchers seem to have found a way to prevent aging of the arteries. It turns out that the old mice that ingested a compound called diméthyl butanol have seen their vascular dysfunction improve. Scientists believe that this compound prevents the production of TMAO. Good news: we find this compound in intimate quantities inolive oil, vinegar or Red wine.
Far from it the idea of researchers the urge to advocate the vegan diet. The latter also involves the production of TMAO. But in smaller quantities. Over time, consuming too many animal products can therefore harm your arteries.
“This study is an important breakthrough because it explains why our arteries erode with age, even in healthy people,” concluded the main author.
To date, the team of researchers wants to identify what could block the production of TMAO to prevent age-related vascular decline. According to their first theories, a herbal diet could in particular contribute to it.