A new study has found that eating the Mediterranean diet for at least a year could alter the microbiome of older people, improving their brain function and life expectancy.
The study published Monday in the BMJ journal Gut found the diet could inhibit the production of inflammatory chemicals that are associated with poor cognitive function and chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and cancer.
The findings suggest that the Mediterranean diet could boost cognitive function and prevent certain chronic medical conditions by inhibiting the production of inflammatory chemicals.
The study researchers wrote, “Our findings support the feasibility of changing the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier aging.”
The amount of good microbes in the gut reduces as the age progresses and the situation gets worse when we eat a poor diet. As the bacterial flora diminishes, aging-related inflammation sets in, increasing the risk of cancer, GI disorders, neurological disorders, and others.
The researchers examined the gut microbiome of more than 600 elderly people from different nations before putting over half of them on the Mediterranean diet, while the rest were asked to continue eating what they always did.
After a year, the authors found that the participants who had followed the Mediterranean diet had beneficial changes to the gut microbiome, reducing the production of potentially harmful inflammatory chemicals.
They also found that there was a growth of beneficial microbes associated with brain function and memory.
Previous studies have found that the Mediterranean diet could positively impact the gut microbiome by reducing the risk of high cholesterol, diabetes, dementia or memory loss, depression, and even breast cancer. Also, the diet has been linked to a healthier heart, strong bones, weight loss, and longer life.
Atlanta-based Registered Dietician Rahaf Al Bochi said, “It’s more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It also encourages eating with friends and family, socializing over meals, mindfully eating your favorite foods, as well as mindful movement and exercise.”
The Mediterranean diet has topped the US News and World Report’s “Best Diet” rankings for three consecutive years. If you want to start with the diet, make sure you see a registered dietician first.