Mediterranean diet increases gut bacteria linked to healthy ageing in older adults

Half the participants were asked to eat more vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, olive oil, and fish – and less red meat and dairy. stockcreations/ Shutterstock

(Paul O’Toole/ The Conversation) — As our global population is projected to live longer than ever before, it’s important that we find ways of helping people live healthier for longer. Exercise and diet are often cited as the best ways of maintaining good health well into our twilight years. But recently, research has also started to look at the role our gut – specifically our microbiome – plays in how we age.

Our latest study has found that eating a Mediterranean diet causes microbiome changes linked to improvements in cognitive function and memory, immunity and bone strength.

The gut microbiome is a complex community of trillions of microbes that live semi-permanently in the intestines. These microbes have co-evolved with humans and other animals to break down dietary ingredients such as inulin, arabinoxylan and resistant starch, that the person can’t digest. They also help prevent disease-causing bacteria from growing.

However, the gut microbiome is extremely sensitive, and many things including diet, the medications you take, your genetics, and even conditions like inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome, can all change the gut microbiota community. The gut microbiota plays a such a huge role in our body, it’s even linked to behavioural changes, including anxiety and depression. But as for other microbiome-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, changes in the microbiome are only part of the issue – the person’s genetics and bad lifestyle are major contributing factors. (…)

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