The Mediterranean Diet for a Happy Gut

Mediterranean Dinner

What Your Gut Microbiome Can Do for You!

Your gut microbiome is the complex bacterial community that lives inside your intestinal tract (1). Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is critical not only for healthy aging, but also for maintaining your general health (1).

This is because a healthy gut microbiome maintains the integrity of your intestinal barrier and positively regulates your immune system (1). In addition, beneficial bacteria synthesize essential vitamins and improve your metabolic health (1).

Dysbiosis

In contrast, having unhealthy bacteria living in your gut can lead to a syndrome called dysbiosis (2). Dysbiosis is associated with intestinal inflammation and increased gut permeability (2).

Increased gut permeability is bad news, because it allows compounds from bacteria as well as food allergens to enter your blood stream. This contributes to the low-grade inflammation that may exacerbate serious health conditions such as neurodegenerative disease (3), metabolic disorders (4), and autoimmune disease (5).

Diet and Gut Health

The composition of your gut bacteria is largely determined by your long-term diet (6). The reason for this is obvious: what you eat directly supports the type of bacteria living within your gut (7).

In fact, it is now clear that some diets support beneficial bacteria, whereas other diets support unhealthy bacteria (7). It follows that long-term dietary interventions may be an effective approach to reverse dysbiosis and help treat inflammatory disease.

The Mediterranean Diet (MD)

One simple, healthy, and delicious diet that we recommend is the Mediterranean Diet (MD). The MD consists of the following broad ingredient base:

1. Healthy carbohydrates in the form of whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.

2. An abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables.

3. Healthy fats mainly in the form of extra virgin olive oil, but also omega-3 from seafood.

4. Healthy sources of protein, primarily derived from seafood and plants, but with lean meat providing a supplemental source of protein.

5. Dairy products are consumed rarely and in small portions.

6. Oh, and red wine, in moderation of course!

The Mediterranean Diet Improves Gut Health

The many health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are well known. Suffice it to say that adherence to a MD increases your life expectancy (8).

It turns out that the Mediterranean Diet (MD) may also be an effective approach for maintaining a healthy gut. Following a MD reduces your levels of bad bacteria and increases your levels beneficial bacteria, which improves your gut health (9, 10).  

How the Mediterranean Diet Improves Gut Health

1. The MD is Nutrient Dense

The MD is nutrient dense. This is because the foods included within the MD are packed full of the nutrients that you need to support your body’s ability to repair damage, mount an effective immune response to fight infection, and to control inflammation.

This includes the protein required to maintain your body, essential fats for maintaining your cellular and overall health, and energy in the form of healthy carbohydrates. And let’s not forget that the MD provides the essential vitamins, minerals, and micro-nutrients that that make life possible!

Thus, the MD provides the nutritional support for maintaining the integrity of your intestinal tract, fighting off infection, and inhibiting runaway inflammation.

2. The MD is High in Fiber

The MD involves the consumption of large amounts of dietary fiber. Consuming sufficient dietary fiber is essential for a happy gut. In fact, certain forms of dietary fiber are classified as prebiotics.

Prebiotics are indigestible forms of fiber that are fermented by beneficial bacteria as a source of food (11). This is important, because (i) beneficial bacteria produce chemicals that improve your health; (ii) beneficial bacteria positively modulate your immune system; and (iii) beneficial bacteria suppress the growth of unhealthy bacteria (7).

In a nutshell, the high fibre content of the MD directly feeds the beneficial bacteria that keep your gut healthy.

3. The MD is High in Healthy Fats

The MD is rich in healthy fats, thanks to the high consumption of virgin olive oil and fish. In addition to supplying essential fats for your body, virgin olive oil supports a healthy gut microbiome.

Consumption of olive oil boosts beneficial lactic acid bacteria and increases their production of beneficial metabolites, which in turn reduces your inflammation and blood pressure (7). In addition, the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids that are present in fish also supports the growth of beneficial bacterial while inhibiting the growth of bacteria that cause inflammation (7).

Thus, the abundance of healthy fats within the MD supports the growth of your beneficial bacteria, which helps reduce your levels of inflammation, and may even improve your blood pressure!

4. The MD is High in Polyphenols

Polyphenols are a broad class of bioactive chemicals found in plants that have antioxidant and/or anti-inflammatory properties. Resveratrol is a famous plant polyphenol found in grapes and consequently, red wine.  

Many polyphenols boost the growth of beneficial bacteria while suppressing the growth of pathogenic bacterial species (7). Specific to the MD, hydroxytyrosol, which is found in extra virgin olive oil, and the resveratrol present in red grapes, both support the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut (7).

Thus, the polyphenols present within the MD support your beneficial bacteria and support a healthy gut.

Take Home Message

The Mediterranean Diet is nutrient dense, high in prebiotic fiber and healthy fats, and provides you with bioactive polyphenols.

Collectively, these properties support your intestinal tract and immune system, boost your levels of beneficial bacteria, and help keep your guts healthy.

Please click on the link below to download your free PDF.

Free PDF

The Md For A Happy Gut

References and Further Reading

1.            H. Narasimhan, C. C. Ren, S. Deshpande, K. E. Sylvia, Young at Gut-Turning Back the Clock with the Gut Microbiome. Microorganisms 9,  (2021).

2.            A. Holmes, C. Finger, D. Morales-Scheihing, J. Lee, L. D. McCullough, Gut dysbiosis and age-related neurological diseases; an innovative approach for therapeutic interventions. Transl Res 226, 39-56 (2020).

3.            M. Luca, S. C. Chattipakorn, S. Sriwichaiin, A. Luca, Cognitive-Behavioural Correlates of Dysbiosis: A Review. Int J Mol Sci 21,  (2020).

4.            R. Singh et al., Gut Microbial Dysbiosis in the Pathogenesis of Gastrointestinal Dysmotility and Metabolic Disorders. J Neurogastroenterol Motil 27, 19-34 (2021).

5.            J. Brown, B. Robusto, L. Morel, Intestinal Dysbiosis and Tryptophan Metabolism in Autoimmunity. Front Immunol 11, 1741 (2020).

6.            E. R. Leeming, A. J. Johnson, T. D. Spector, C. I. Le Roy, Effect of Diet on the Gut Microbiota: Rethinking Intervention Duration. Nutrients 11,  (2019).

7.            C. García-Montero et al., Nutritional Components in Western Diet Versus Mediterranean Diet at the Gut Microbiota-Immune System Interplay. Implications for Health and Disease. Nutrients 13,  (2021).

8.            S. Soltani, A. Jayedi, S. Shab-Bidar, N. Becerra-Tomás, J. Salas-Salvadó, Adherence to the Mediterranean Diet in Relation to All-Cause Mortality: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Adv Nutr 10, 1029-1039 (2019).

9.            E. K. Mitsou et al., Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with the gut microbiota pattern and gastrointestinal characteristics in an adult population. Br J Nutr 117, 1645-1655 (2017).

10.          I. Garcia-Mantrana, M. Selma-Royo, C. Alcantara, M. C. Collado, Shifts on Gut Microbiota Associated to Mediterranean Diet Adherence and Specific Dietary Intakes on General Adult Population. Front Microbiol 9, 890 (2018).

11.          G. R. Gibson, H. M. Probert, J. V. Loo, R. A. Rastall, M. B. Roberfroid, Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: updating the concept of prebiotics. Nutr Res Rev 17, 259-275 (2004).

Disclaimer

The material displayed on this website is provided without any guarantees, conditions or warranties as to its accuracy.
Information written and expressed on this website is for education purposes and interest only. It is not intended to replace advice from your medical or healthcare professional.

You are encouraged to make your own health care choices based on your own research and in conjunction with your qualified practitioner.

The information provided on this website is not intended to provide a diagnosis, treatment or cure for any diseases. You should seek medical attention before undertaking any diet, exercise, other health program or other procedure described on this website.

To the fullest extent permitted by law we hereby expressly exclude all warranties and other terms which might otherwise be implied by statute, common law or the law of equity and must not be liable for any damages whatsoever, including but without limitation to any direct, indirect, special, consequential, punitive or incidental damages, or damages for loss of use, profits, data or other intangibles, damage to goodwill or reputation, injury or death, or the cost of procurement of substitute goods and services, arising out of or related to the use, inability to use, performance or failures of this website or any linked sites and any materials or information posted on those sites, irrespective of whether such damages were foreseeable or arise in contract, tort, equity, restitution, by statute, at common law or otherwise.

Author

Posted in
Woman Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra for Better Sleep

Disrupted sleep increases anxiety and depression. Yoga Nidra is an effective method that has helped many people overcome insomnia.

Beautiful Woman Running On Treadmill

Low-Intensity Cardio for Metabolic Health

Emerging research shows that low-intensity cardio is the best way to improve your metabolic and cardiovascular health.

Strong bones, strong brain.

Strong Bones, Strong Mind

Regular exercise releases osteocalcin from your bones. Once in circulation, osteocalcin enters your brain to support learning and memory.

Leave a Comment





Woman Yoga Nidra

Yoga Nidra for Better Sleep

Disrupted sleep increases anxiety and depression. Yoga Nidra is an effective method that has helped many people overcome insomnia.

Beautiful Woman Running On Treadmill

Low-Intensity Cardio for Metabolic Health

Emerging research shows that low-intensity cardio is the best way to improve your metabolic and cardiovascular health.

Strong bones, strong brain.

Strong Bones, Strong Mind

Regular exercise releases osteocalcin from your bones. Once in circulation, osteocalcin enters your brain to support learning and memory.