LivingThe Mediterranean diet improves the microbiome of the elderly

The Mediterranean diet improves the microbiome of the elderly

Following a Mediterranean diet, that is, prioritizing the consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, olive oil and fish and moderating the intake of red meat and saturated fat improves the state of the intestinal microbiome in older people, according to a study which was just published in Gu magazine.

The microbiome is a community of microorganisms, mainly bacteria, that lives in our body. We have microbiomes in the gut, genitalia, respiratory system, inside the mouth, in the nasopharyngeal cavity and the skin . Although we do not even know of their presence, this population of microorganisms is very important for our health. The prestigious Mayo Clinic writes the following about the gut microbiome on its website: “Not surprisingly, what you feed your microbiome can have the greatest impact on its health. And the healthier you are, the healthier you are ”. For this institution, the key to having a healthy microbiome is to nurture and balance the nearly 1,000 different species of bacteria that live in the gut . It is precisely this part that has come to confirm the present study carried out during 12 months of the Mediterranean diet among elderly people.

Research has shown that eating the Mediterranean diet boosts bacteria associated with healthy aging and reduces those associated with inflammation . In addition, it contributes to a greater diversity of bacteria in the intestinal microbiome, a condition that is associated with health and which many older people lack, especially when they live for a long time in a residence.

As we age, our bodily functions deteriorate and inflammation increases. These two factors are associated with frailty, so if what has been seen in the study, that is, that the Mediterranean diet reduces bacteria associated with inflammation, it could slow down the progress of cognitive decline and physical weakness in the old age .

The study involved 612 people between the ages of 65 and 79 from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom. 289 people were allowed to continue their usual diet and 323 were made to eat the Mediterranean diet. This lasted 12 months and the scientists were in charge of analyzing the gut microbiome of the two groups before and after feeding in the determined way.

What was first seen is that the Mediterranean diet slowed the loss of bacterial diversity . In addition, it increased the types of bacteria related to indicators of reduced fragility such as walking speed and hand grip strength.

Looking more deeply, the scientists found that the microbial changes that occurred were associated with an increase in bacteria that produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids and a decrease in bacteria that produce certain bile acids, the overproduction of which is associated with an increased risk of resistance to insulin, fatty liver, cell damage and bowel cancer. Those responsible for this were mainly the increase in dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals (C, B6, B9, copper, potassium, iron, manganese and magnesium) resulting from following a Mediterranean diet for 12 months.

An association has also been observed between increased adherence to the Mediterranean diet with improvements in global cognitive capacity, episodic memory, immune function , arterial pressure and stiffness, as well as a reduction in bone loss in people with osteoporosis. By adherence we mean follow-up. A person has little adherence to a certain diet if he skips it every two to three, for example.

Despite the findings, the researchers point out that the interaction between diet, microbiome and health is a complex phenomenon influenced by several factors.

What they do advocate is the need to educate aging people to eat a nutritious diet that is high in plant foods and fiber.

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