Mediterranean Diet May Increase Gut Bacteria Diversity and Reduce Risk of Frailty
Frailty is the name commonly given to the condition of being weak and delicate. Previous research has suggested a link between frailty and reduced diversity of gut bacteria. According to a new study, the Mediterranean diet may help increase gut bacteria diversity and help slow the onset of frailty.
Six hundred and twelve adults with an average age of 74 participated in the study. They were classified as Non-Frail, Pre-Frail, or Frail at the beginning of the study. Half of the participants consumed a Mediterranean diet for 12 months, and the other half consumed their regular diet. Microbiome data was collected at baseline and at the end of the study period.
At the end of the study, participants who consumed the Mediterranean diet had increases in gut bacteria that produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids. These gut bacteria are positively associated with markers of lower frailty and improved cognitive function, and negatively associated with markers of inflammation.
Participants on the Mediterranean diet also saw a decrease in gut bacteria that produces certain bile acids. Overproduction of bile acids can cause several gut-related problems, including chronic diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and fatigue.
Participants in the Mediterranean diet who were Non-Frail or Pre-Frail at the beginning of the study saw the most significant positive changes in gut bacteria.
In addition, during the study period there was a slightly significant increase in the number of participants in the control group with increased frailty, compared to participants in the Mediterranean diet
The study was conducted by researchers from University College Cork, the University of Bologna, Wageningen University, and Warsaw University. It was published on February 17, 2020 in the journal Gut.