Evaluation of an 8-week vegan diet on plasma trimethylamine-N-oxide and postchallenge glucose in adults with dysglycemia or obesity

Stavroula Argyridou , Melanie Davies, Gregory Biddle, Dennis Bernieh, Toru Suzuki, Nathan Dawkins, Alex Rowlands, Kamlesh Khunti, Alice Smith, Tom Yates

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Trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO), a metabolite generated by the gut in response (in part) to meat consumption, is linked to poor cardiometabolic health.

We investigate the effect of an 8-week vegan diet, followed by a 4-week period of unrestricted diet, on glucose tolerance and plasma TMAO in human omnivores with obesity or dysglycemia.

This interventional single-group prospective trial involved 23 regular meat eaters with dysglycemia [glycated hemoglobin ≥ 5.7% and ≤8% (39–64 mmol/mol)], or obesity (ΒΜΙ ≥ 30 kg/m2) aged 57.8 ± 10.0 years. Participants [14 men (60.9%) and 9 women (39.1%)] were supported in following a vegan diet for 8 weeks, followed by 4 weeks of unrestricted diet. The primary outcomes (plasma TMAO and glucose) were assessed at baseline, during the vegan diet (weeks 1 and 8), and after the unrestricted diet period (week 12). TMAO was assessed after fasting and glucose was measured as a time-averaged total AUC using a 180-minute oral-glucose-tolerance test. Generalized estimating equation models with an exchangeable correlation structure were used to assess changes from baseline, adjusting for age, sex, ethnicity, and weight.

TMAO levels (marginal mean) were reduced after weeks 1 and 8 of a vegan diet compared to baseline, from 10.7 (97.5% CI, 6.61–17.3) μmol/L to 5.66 (97.5% CI, 4.56–7.02) μmol/L and 6.38 (97.5% CI, 5.25–7.74) μmol/L, respectively; however, levels rebounded at week 12 after resumption of an unrestricted diet (17.5 μmol/L; 97.5% CI, 7.98–38.4). Postprandial glucose levels (marginal means) were reduced after weeks 1 and 8 compared to baseline, from 8.07 (97.5% CI, 7.24–8.90) mmol/L to 7.14 (97.5% CI, 6.30–7.98) mmol/L and 7.34 (97.5% CI, 6.63–8.04) mmol/L, respectively. Results for glucose and TMAO were independent of weight loss. Improvements in the lipid profile and markers of renal function were observed at week 8.

These findings suggest that a vegan diet is an effective strategy for improving glucose tolerance and reducing plasma TMAO in individuals with dysglycemia or obesity. This study was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NCT03315988.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1844–1853
JournalThe Journal of Nutrition
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


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