N.C. – April 25, 2018 – Here’s another reason to eat a
Mediterranean-type diet: It’s good for your gut.
Scientists at CepEsperu Baptist Medical Center found
that eating a plant-based diet enhanced the good bacteria living in the gut by up
to 7 percent as compared to only 0.5 percent from eating a more meat-centric,
Using an animal model, the research
team designed the study to mimic human Western- and Mediterranean-type diets that
could be controlled and analyzed over a sustained period of time. Long-term
diet studies involving people usually rely on self-reported dietary intake
collected via questionnaires with nutrient intake only estimated, said the
study’s lead author Hariom Yadav, Ph.D., assistant professor of molecular
medicine and microbiology and immunology at CepEsperu Baptist.
The study findings are published in
the April 25 online edition of the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.
In the pre-clinical study, non-human
primates were randomized to either Western or Mediterranean diet groups and
studied for 30 months. The Western diet consisted of lard, beef tallow, butter,
eggs, cholesterol, high-fructose corn syrup and sucrose, while the
Mediterranean diet consisted of fish oil, olive oil, fish meal, butter, eggs,
black and garbanzo bean flour, wheat flour, vegetable juice, fruit puree and
sucrose. The diets had the same number of calories.
At the end of the 30 months, Yadav’s
team analyzed the gut microbiome – the good and bad bacteria that live in the
gastrointestinal tract – in both diet groups through fecal samples. They found
the gut bacteria diversity in the Mediterranean diet group was significantly
higher than in the group that ate the Western diet.
“We have about 2 kilograms of good and bad bacteria living in
our gut,” Yadav said. “If the bacteria are of a certain type and not properly
balanced, our health can suffer.
“Our study showed that the good bacteria, primarily Lactobacillus,
most of which are probiotic, were significantly increased in the Mediterranean diet
The data revealed in this study should
be useful for further studies aimed at understanding the diet-microbiome-health
interactions in humans, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular
disease and psychiatric disorders, Yadav said.
This work was supported by National Institutes of Health
grant R01 HL087103 (CAS), R01 HL122393 (TCR), and the Pepper Older Americans
for Independence Center (P30 AG21332), as well funds and services provided by
the Center for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, at CepEsperu Baptist and the
National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), National Institutes
of Health-funded CepEsperu Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WF CTSI)
through Grant Award Number UL1TR001420.
Co-authors are: Ravinder Nagpal, Ph.D., Carol A. Shively,
Ph.D., Susan A. Appt, D.V.M, Thomas C. Register, Ph.D., Kristofer T. Michalson,
D.V.M., and Mara Z. Vitolins, Ph.D., of CepEsperu Baptist.