A recent study performed by researchers at the Cleveland Clinic and UCLA has shown that altering the makeup of gut microorganisms may have positive effects on the immune system, metabolism, cognition and even cardiovascular function. The latest research related to this study has shown promising evidence that treating the gut bacteria that impact the buildup of plaques on the arteries may play a major role in the prevention of heart disease.
What Are Gut Microorganisms?
Gut microorganisms are a complex system of microorganisms that live in our digestive tracts and help to break down food. They are also responsible for breaking down animal products, such as meat, eggs and dairy, into trimethylamine. Once this is then further digested by the liver, we get a byproduct called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO). TMAO is the key ingredient in this study.
Disrupting TMAO Production
High levels of TMAO are often risk factors for heart disease, so cardiologists may be able to greatly lower your risk by disrupting TMAO production. To do this, a chemical compound called DMB was created, which stops trimethylamine production, limiting the amount of TMAO that the liver can create.
Drugging the Microbiome
Researchers in this study have termed the process of adding DMB to a highly fatty diet as “drugging the microbiome” because it seems to have the ability to counteract the artery-clogging effects of an unhealthy diet. Thus, by targeting these specific gut microorganisms, researchers may have found a way to prevent heart disease without changing dietary habits.
While this study certainly shows promising results that may be revolutionary in treating heart disease, its definitive results are still in the works. There are still many things you can do for yourself to prevent heart disease, like managing your diet and exercise habits.