“Healthy ageing” with Mediterranean diet

"Healthy ageing" with Mediterranean diet


It has long been known that a Mediterranean diet with lots of fruit, vegetables, olive oil and fish is healthy. A five-country study now also proves that the Mediterranean diet promotes those intestinal bacteria that make us “age healthily”, but keeps those that make us frail short.

A Mediterranean diet promotes those types of intestinal bacteria that are responsible for “”. At the same time, a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil and fish, but with little red meat and saturated fats, reduces those intestinal bacteria that are associated with dangerous inflammation in the elderly. This is the result of a five-country study published in the British scientific journal “Gut”.

Over 600 test persons from five countries

An international team of researchers examined the microbiomes, i.e. the bacteria found in the intestines, of a total of 612 elderly people in France, Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and Great Britain before and after twelve months. 289 of the test persons between 65 and 79 years of age had eaten their usual food during this period, while 323 study participants had changed to a Mediterranean diet.

Beneficial change in the intestinal flora

The result was astonishing: In those test persons who “underwent” the twelve-month Mediterranean diet, a beneficial change in the intestinal microbiome (intestinal flora) was detected. Thus, the loss of bacterial diversity in the intestine, which often occurs in elderly people with poor nutrition in long-term care homes, could be significantly reduced. At the same time, the researchers were able to demonstrate an increase in those types of bacteria that in earlier studies were associated with reduced frailty and improved brain function.

Bacteria for “healthy ageing” multiply

A more detailed analysis of the microbial changes revealed, for example, that those bacteria responsible for the production of useful short-chain fatty acids proliferated. At the same time, the proportion of bacteria involved in the production of certain bile acids, whose overproduction increases the risk of colon cancer, insulin resistance, fatty liver and cell damage, decreased.

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“Key species” for stable “intestinal ecosystem”

In addition, the researchers found that those bacteria that multiplied as a result of the Mediterranean diet were the “key species”. This means that they had a disproportionately large influence on the diversity of bacteria in the intestine compared to their relatively low frequency. In this way they provided a stable “intestinal ecosystem” in which microbes associated with indicators of fragility by previous studies were displaced.

According to the study, the positive changes resulting from the Mediterranean diet were largely due to an increase in dietary fibre and the vitamins and minerals associated with it. In particular, the intake of vitamins C, B6, B9, copper, potassium, iron, manganese and magnesium increased.

"Healthy ageing" with Mediterranean diet
“Healthy ageing” with Mediterranean diet

Mediterranean Cuisine – Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean cuisine or Mediterranean cuisine is a generic term for various cuisines of the Mediterranean region. Basic elements are lots of olive oil and olives, fresh vegetables like tomatoes, garlic and onions, fish and seafood, herbs and spices like thyme, rosemary or sage. Regular consumption of red wine with food is also often part of the diet.

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Medical studies show that countries with a Mediterranean diet have fewer cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure and obesity and a higher life expectancy. Vascular diseases, diabetes and strokes are also less common.

Based on the Mediterranean cuisine, the so-called Mediterranean or Crete diet was developed as a nutritional recommendation. It does not correspond to the actual everyday diet, but uses many basic elements. However, the consumption of red wine is limited to a maximum of one glass a day.



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