Mediterranean diet boosts gut bacteria linked to ‘healthy’ aging in older people, study shows

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Image: iStock

While the data continues to pour in on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for cardiac health, the lack of information on how this diet affects the aging process has not gone unnoticed by the scientific community. As such, an international team of investigators, led by researchers at the University of Cork, set out to determine the effects of the Mediterranean diet on older populations. Amazingly, the five-country study found that eating a Mediterranean diet for a year boosts the types of gut bacteria linked to “healthy” aging while reducing those associated with harmful inflammation in older people.

A more detailed analysis revealed that the microbiome changes were associated with an increase in bacteria known to produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids and a decrease in bacteria involved in producing particular bile acids, overproduction of which are linked to a heightened risk of bowel cancer, insulin resistance, fatty liver, and cell damage.

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Older people may have dental problems and/or difficulty swallowing, so it may be impractical for them to eat a Mediterranean diet, they added. But the beneficial bacteria implicated in healthy aging found in this study might yet prove useful therapeutic agents to ward off frailty.

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