Can Meat and Eggs Damage Your Microbiome?

The quality of your diet is a key factor to your overall health and wellness. When you choose to fill your diet with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, you power up” your body with pristine nutrients that include high-quality vitamins, minerals, and fiberHowever, did you know that some foods that are thought of as “healthy” can be damaging to your microbiome?

Your microbiome is made up of a vast array of many classes of tiny microbes found within your body, mostly within your gut.1 This genetic material includes bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses that exist in your body to help digest food, regulate your immune system, protect against bacteria, and internally produce vitamins such as vitamin B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin K. These beneficial colonizers are essential for your optimal nutrition and immunity and can even be inherited through generations! Your microbiome can be drastically impacted by the foods you eat, since the nutrients available to your microbiome are directly influenced by your diet.  

Despite the importance of the microbiome, some common foods can damage your microbe coloniesThis is because certain foods contain choline, a compound that your gut bacteria can turn into TMAO (trimethylamine oxide) which is a chemical associated with a significantly higher risk of heart attack, stroke, or dying.2 TMAO is produced in the body when you eat foods that contain choline, such as red meat, eggs, fish, and poultry.3 However, research shows that the more regularly you eat these foods, the more your TMAO levels will spike.  

Evidence shows that if an omnivore (a person whose diet includes animal productswere to eat a steak, their TMAO levels would immediately climb rapidly.2 Interestingly, if a vegan or vegetarian were to eat a steakafterwards their bodies would create almost no TMAO. How can this be? The rise in TMAO levels after eating animal foods all boils down to the microbiome. Researchers theorize that people who predominantly eat a plant-based diet do not have the meat-eating microbes in their guts that are capable of producing TMAO. Essentially, the more meat that you feed to those TMAO-producing microorganisms, the more of these microorganisms will be produced. What a vicious cycle!  

Luckily, meat-free, plant-based diets can have a profound impact on TMAO levels (as well as whole-body health) by keeping TMAO levels quite low. In addition, the benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet also include a boost to your immune system, healthy inflammation support, healthy weight maintenance, and a lower risk of certain diseases.4 Filling your diet with fresh, organic fruits and vegetables as well as delicious, plant-based proteins can help you achieve your own optimal health and wellness.