New Findings Reveal How Red Meat Could Affect Your Digestion

In the 2010s, the idea that red meat was the new tobacco became a bit of a meme. The argument put forward by the Center for Health Journalism and Jack Central – the Northern Arizona University's Student News — was that like cigarettes, red meat's health impact was unknown and so was consumed everywhere. However, fatal heart attacks, mad cow disease, and studies showed people who eat red meat tend to have a shorter lifespan, which chipped away at its broad appeal.

By 2017, GQ could rattle off seven reasons for avoiding the stuff. These include an increased risk of heart disease, the potential to develop cancer, and that red meat has a particularly harmful effect on the environment because of the land dedicated to raising cows and feeding cows. Because of these reasons, the Cleveland Clinic recommends you limit your red meat intake to one or two servings per week. That's servings, not meals. So, you should only have 6 to 12 ounces of red meat and only 3 ounces if you have a pre-existing heart condition. So, really, finding out that red meat also impacts our digestion is just gilding the decaying lily with ammonia. However, scientists might have discovered why red meat in particular is so bad.

Our body simply reacts poorly to red meat

The American Heart Association published on August 1, 2022, the findings of a study into how different animal-sourced foods affect the likelihood that someone suffers from a cardiovascular disease. They discovered that there was a link between chemicals produced by the stomach digesting red meat and cardiovascular disease. In a press release sent to Science Daily, the researchers made specific mention that the same link cannot be made to eggs, poultry, or seafood.

Essentially, the team knew that certain chemical byproducts of food digestion, which are called metabolites, tend to promote cardiovascular disease. One of these, trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) is produced when the stomach encounters red meat with large quantities of a chemical called L-carnitine. While further research is needed to better establish how these factors work together, the findings give a clear path to research that serves as an alternative to focusing on the saturated fat content of the meat. Still, we might be getting closer to giving red meat a breakdown similar to that society once gave to tobacco.