The Mediterranean diet has been considered one of the healthiest diets in the world for quite some time now.
According to a new study that was published on Monday in the BMJ journal Gut, eating the Mediterranean diet for just one year altered the microbiome of elderly people in ways that improved brain function and helped in longevity.
The study found the Mediterranean diet can inhibit production of inflammatory chemicals that can lead to loss of cognitive function. This prevents the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and atherosclerosis.
“Our findings support the feasibility of changing the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier aging,” the study authors said.
The passing on various different foods in our bodies over our lifetimes exposing our insides to billions of different bacteria. According to scientists the amount of this bacteria, both good and bad reduces as we get older. CNN explained in their article that as the diversity of bacteria diminishes, “inflamm-aging” occurs. This contributes to age-related inflammatory processes that can lead to cancer, neurological disorders and other diseases.
The study analyzed the gut microbiome of 612 elderly people from France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom. It put 323 of them on a special diet for a year.
Although the diet was designed for the elderly, it was based on the Mediterranean principles of eating lots of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil and fish, and little red meat, sugar and saturated fats.
The rest of the group for the study ate as they normally would for the year.
The group who followed the diet had beneficial changes to the microbiome in their digestive system.
The loss of bacterial diversity was slowed, and the production of things like C-reactive protein and interleukin-17 were reduced -potentially harmful inflammatory markers- were greatly reduced.
Besides this, there was a growth of beneficial bacteria that was linked to improved memory and brain function, the study said.
The diet also appeared to boost certain key species of bacteria which also slowed signs of frailty, such as walking speed and hand grip strength.
Previous work from this study found those who followed the diet closely had improved episodic memory and overall cognitive ability. Those who strictly adhered to the diet even more also saw reduced rate of bone loss for people with osteoporosis and improved blood pressure and arterial stiffness.
It definitely seems as though the Mediterranean diet has a whole world of health benefits. To learn more about the Mediterranean Diet, check out the info from the Mayo Clinic.