America was first introduced to the Mediterranean diet in the nineteen fifties, but like many diets, its popularity yoyoed over the years. It�s centered around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and other seeds, as well as fish and extra virgin olive oil. Red meat and poultry along with dairy and eggs are sparingly used. I wish I had stuck with this diet because a recent study confirms the diet lowers heart disease and cancer risk.
What�s new is the study suggests our gut microbiome is altered through the diet. That�s the collection of bacteria, fungi and viruses in our intestinal tract which influence our health such as brain function, vitamin production, and immune system function. As this microbiome changes over time, it can impact our chances for disease.
The study looked at the gut microbiome of more than six hundred people in five countries ages sixty-five to seventy-nine. About half ate a Mediterranean diet while the others did not change their diets. After a year, scientists found those on the Mediterranean diet maintained better diversity in their microbiome, which usually decreases with age. They also had less inflammation and more bacteria associated with enhanced memory and brain health. People even walked faster and had better hand strength. The results didn�t vary in people between countries regardless of their age or weight.
As we better understand the role of microbiome in health, the ability to influence our gut through our food is becoming clearer.
For more information…
Why the gut microbiome is behind the health effects of the Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean dietary pattern has been largely associated with improved health outcomes. Two new randomized controlled trials reveal the contribution of gut microbiome composition and functions to explaining the potential beneficial effects of the Mediterranean diet.
Mediterranean diet linked to gut microbiome improvements
New research has found that older people who adhered to a Mediterranean diet for a year had healthier gut microbiomes and improved measures of frailty.
Mediterranean diet intervention alters the gut microbiome in older people reducing frailty and improving health status: the NU-AGE 1-year dietary intervention across five European countries
Ageing is accompanied by deterioration of multiple bodily functions and inflammation, which collectively contribute to frailty. We and others have shown that frailty co-varies with alterations in the gut microbiota in a manner accelerated by consumption of a restricted diversity diet. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is associated with health. In the NU-AGE project, we investigated if a 1-year MedDiet intervention could alter the gut microbiota and reduce frailty.