Paleo Diet – Bugs Gone Wild

paleo diet gorilla diet contemplative gorilla imageEating a diet of hunted animals and gathered veggies as the cavemen did may not be as heart healthy as is being touted by the Paleo Diet gurus.

New research has found that people who got heart disease had higher levels of a seemingly healthy nutrient in the body called carnitine.  Carnitine itself may have health benefits, but when it accumulates in the blood as a result of too much red meat it presents a serious risk for heart disease.

In an attempt to reduce the carnitine load in the body, microbes convert the excess carnitine into a very toxic substance called TMAO or (trimethylamine-N-oxide).

TMAO carries a tenfold risk for heart disease compared to cholesterol.

The excess carnitine seems to alter the balance of good intestinal bacteria and boost carnitine eating bacteria that convert it to TMAO. Interestingly, if the mice in the study were supported by probiotics, the flora in the gut remained healthy and the carnitine was not converted into toxic TMAO. Once again, it’s all about the bugs.

The Gorilla Diet

I am a fan of what I casually call “the gorilla diet”. They have almost the exact digestive system as humans and eat half their body weight in veggies each day. So, no argument on the need for vegetables! Gorillas will also eat meat, on occasion. It is by no means a standard or daily part of their diet.

I realize that many folks really need to eat meat to feel healthy. I believe that if we can boost digestive strength and efficiency – which is our main focus at LifeSpa – that we would become less dependent on heavy and dense foods, such as meat, and thrive with lighter foods and a more efficient digestive system.

Interestingly, in one study vegans and vegetarians who ate red meat did not convert the carnitine into toxic TMAO as did the meat eaters. So perhaps the gorillas have it right – meat as a treat and not our daily bread!


Nature Med. 2013. doi: 10. 1038/nm.3145


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