Mediterranean cuisine has gained popularity over the last few years. Most of its foods comprise fresh veggies and hardly any oil, and that's what makes this cuisine a fitness buff's go-to cuisine. Apart from it being weight-loss-friendly, Mediterranean food also brings other health benefits, especially for our gut. According to a study presented at the UEG Week Barcelona 2019, some plant-based and Mediterranean foods offer anti-inflammatory properties that help healthy gut bacteria flourish. Microbe population living in the intestine, called ‘gut microbiota', plays a significant role in the functioning of immune system and also positively impacts metabolic and neurobehavioral traits in the human body.
The results of the study suggest that plant-based and Mediterranean diets including legumes, fish, bread, nuts, and wine can boost gut bacteria that help with biosynthesis of vital nutrients in the body. The gut microbiota also helps produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which provide ample energy for cells in the colon.
Lead researcher Laura Bolte said, "A diet characterised by nuts, fruits, greater vegetable and legume intake than animal protein, combined with moderate consumption of animal-derived foods like fish, lean meat, poultry, fermented low-fat dairy, and red wine, and a lower intake of red meat, processed meat, and sweets, is beneficially associated with the gut ecosystem in our study."
The team of researchers formed four study groups –
1. General population
2. Patients dealing with Crohn's disease
3. Patients dealing with ulcerative colitis
4. Patients dealing with irritable bowel syndrome
Each participant provided a stool sample, which the researchers reconstructed for the host's microbiota and compared with the results of a food frequency survey involving 61 different food items associated with microbial populations. They discovered that diets rich in plants resembling Mediterranean foods could decrease the level of harmful aerobic bacteria. It was also seen that excessive consumption of meats, fast foods or refined sugar led to a decrease in healthy bacteria and an increase in inflammatory elements.
"The results indicate that diet is likely to become a significant and serious line of treatment or disease management for diseases of the gut - by modulating the gut microbiome," Laura Bolte added.