Mediterranean diet has already been considered the healthiest diet for your heart. And now researchers have found that it could also boost your gastrointestinal system.
A new study published in the journal Gut has found that older individuals who follow the Mediterranean diet have more types of gut bacteria associated with healthy aging.
One dietician said the diet’s reliance on vegetables could be the reason why it boosts gut microbiome.
Registered dietician at Lenox Hill Hospital Sharon Zarabi, who was not part of the study, said, “Dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds all have multifold benefits in enhancing our gut microbiome.”
Lead study author and microbiologist Dr. Paul O’Toole said, “Prior research has suggested that a poor diet can have a negative impact on an older person’s strength and stamina, as well as their microbiome – the trillions of bacteria living in the human digestive tract.”
The researchers looked at how the diet affected the microbiome of more than 600 people between the ages of 65 and 79. After a year, their gut microbiome was assessed while half of them were on the Mediterranean diet.
They found that the diet made a few beneficial changes to their gut microbiome, boosting their gut health. The study findings suggest that the diet helps people to stay physically and mentally strong, as it lowers the production of potentially harmful inflammatory chemicals.
Also, the beneficial gut bacteria changes associated with the Mediterranean diet were associated with increased intake in dietary fiber, vitamins (such as vitamins C, B6, B9) and minerals (such as copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and magnesium).
However, the study was not designed to directly link the association between gut bacteria and health in the elderly. “Still, diet can exert a powerful influence on people’s health,” said Zarabi.
She explained, “Any enhancement of diet and the microbiome has a strong connection to the brain and cognitive development. The Mediterranean diet is chock full of vitamins and minerals, which is thought to boost gastrointestinal function, and even induces weight loss by keeping us full.”