Breaking down how gut bacteria works may prevent heart problems according to a new breakthrough study published in the journal Cell.
Recently, gut microorganisms have received a lot of spotlight. Viruses, bacteria and protozoa dwelling in the gut have great influence on our health. It’s not just the gastrointestinal tract’s health that we are talking about, but many other aspects. For instance, recent studies have established links between gut microorganisms and their functioning and metabolism, immune system, cognition or mood.
The latest research conducted by scientists with UCLA’s cardiology department and the Cleveland Clinic suggests that breaking down how gut bacteria works may prevent heart problems. More specifically, atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a potentially fatal condition which is caused by the buildup of artery clogging plaque.
And you guessed well. Gut microorganisms have quite a role to play in the buildup of artery clogging plaque. When we are tempted by high-fat foods such as dairy products, or meat or eggs, it is up to the gut microorganisms to break these down in several compounds. When this is the case, the production of trimethylamine is triggered. In a full circle, liver enzymes are also triggered by the production of trimethylamine. The end result is a byproduct called trimethylamine N-oxide or in short, TMAO.
The foods may be digested, but TMAO is not necessarily a byproduct one should be happy to have in their body. Previous research has associated high levels of TMAO with patients who suffered heart attacks or presented narrowed arteries. Narrowed arteries is a clear telltale sign of artery clogging plaque.
The study conducted by the joint research team found that if the chain of reactions leading to the production of TMAO could be broken, this could prevent the buildup of artery clogging plaque. In order to break up the chain they used choline. Choline is key in processing the intake of fatty acid. The chemical used by the researchers was DMB.
With the mice, they research team used DMB in their water. The group which fed normally but had the enriched water had significantly lower levels of TMAO compared to the second group. Both groups were fed with foods which trigger high fatty artery clogging plaque.
According to the researchers, the technique dubbed drugging the microbiome could help in human patients as well.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia