The Mediterranean diet is able to alter the diversity and composition of the gut bacteria

In May 2018 researchers from Spain published their study to assess the effect of certain nutrients as well as adherence to the Mediterranean diet on the gut microbiota of healthy adults. It is known that imbalances in gut bacteria populations are related to disease and that most of the time these imbalances are caused through diet. Western dietary habits, which are characterized by high intakes of calories, animal proteins, saturated fats, and simple sugars have been linked with a higher risk of obesity, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. A total of 27 individuals were included in the study. Dietary information was collected via food frequency questionnaires and adherence to the Mediterranean diet assessed. Faecal samples were collected and microbial diversity assessed. Results showed that a higher ratio of Firmicutes-Bacteroidetes was associated with a lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet, and that a greater presence of Bacteroidetes was associated with lower animal protein intake. A high consumption of animal protein, saturated fats, and sugars also reduced the diversity or richness of the gut microbiota. A significantly higher presence of Christensenellaceae was found in those individuals with a greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet when compared to those with a lower adherence. In addition normal-weight individuals also had a significantly higher presence of Christensenellaceae when compared to those who were overweight. Types of bacteria falling in the Butyricimonas, Desulfovibrio, and Oscillospira groups were seen to be associated with a BMI of less 25, and Catenibacterium with a higher Mediterranean dietary score. Higher levels of Bifidobacterium in the gut bacteria were related to a greater consumption of plant-based nutrients, such as vegetable proteins and polysaccharides.

Garcia-Mantrana I et al. Shifts on Gut Microbiota Associated to Mediterranean Diet Adherence and Specific Dietary Intakes on General Adult Population. Front Microbiol. 2018 May 7;9:890

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