In the last few years, The effects of the Mediterranean diet on intestinal health were studied. While a less explored link, there are findings of some benefits, especially in what has to do with the state of the microbiota.
This group of bacteria and microorganisms inhabit the digestive system and play an important role in health. Indeed, they are positively associated with the proper functioning of the immune system, the correct metabolism of food, among others.
What does diet have to do with intestinal health? Why is the Mediterranean diet recommended? As a result of this topic, there are these and many other questions. Below we detail everything about it to get an answer.
Diet and intestinal flora
One of the organs influenced by the quality of the diet and the habits of life is, without a doubt, the intestines. This organ is inhabited by microorganisms that participate in various vital functions, such as digestion, the immune system, the inflammatory response or the synthesis of vitamins.
Therefore, when the intestinal flora is healthy, balanced and prepared to perform these functions, its characteristics are as follows:
- It has just the right amount of beneficial microorganisms.
- There is no overgrowth of harmful microorganisms.
- Adequate microbial diversity is ensured.
As far as diet and microbiota are concerned, it should be noted that some foods enhance the activity of bacteria, already have anti-inflammatory functions and favor the production of short-chain fatty acids.
Enough, Fatty acids are one of main sources of food of intestinal cells and can help keep the intestinal mucosa in good condition.
Mediterranean diet and intestinal health
The Mediterranean diet, in particular, is one of the most studied in terms of nutrition and health. In principle it can be said that the Mediterranean food model is linked to lower risk suffer from chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, for example.
Now, a scientific study also associates this eating pattern with better intestinal health. published in magazine intestine, concludes that following a Mediterranean diet for one year can contribute to:
- Improves brake-related intestinal bacteria frailty and cognitive decline.
- Reduce bacteria associated with an inflammatory state.
- Reduce the loss of bacterial diversity.
- Reduce the presence of pro-inflammatory substances which have harmful effects on health.
In this regard it is important to remember that, although it is true that the results are positive and open the door to new investigations, the researchers admitted that the state of health of intestinal bacteria cannot be linked to diet alone. So, when it comes to intestinal health, we need to consider other factors that also influence its state.
What are the characteristics of the Mediterranean diet for intestinal health?
Although the Mediterranean diet can vary slightly from region to region, in general it has a number of common characteristics. In its traditional form, It is based on habitual intake of certain food groups. Specifically, it has the following characteristics:
- Extra virgin olive oil is the main source of fat, both for cooking and for dressing.
- Vegetables are consumed daily and the green leafy ones stand out.
- Contains fruit and whole grains.
- Nuts and legumes are included in moderation.
- Includes fish (especially blue), meat and dairy products in moderation.
- Contains low amounts of red meat and saturated fat.
Second evidenceOf these foods there are some that are more beneficial in terms of intestinal health. What are they and why are they important? Let’s see in detail below.
1. Fatty acids
In this case, an optimal intake of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids stands out, accompanied by a low consumption of saturated fats. This lipid profile is beneficialgiven that is related to very low inflammatory markers.
2. Carbohydrates accessible to the microbiota
There is also the contribution of this type of fibre, also known as Mac’s. This carbohydrate cannot be digested, as the body lacks the enzymes needed to do so. In this way it reaches the colon intact where it is fermented by bacteria.
From there, derive a number of compounds positive for colon health, As well as serve as food for microorganisms. In general, studies have found higher values of short-chain fatty acids in the feces of people who regularly followed a Mediterranean diet.
Polyphenols are present in this type of diet, as they are abundant in fruits, vegetables, olive oil and herbs. These compounds have been included in the group of prebiotic foods, that is, those that feed the intestinal bacteria. THE phenols They act positively for two reasons:
- They increase the diversity of intestinal microbes.
- They help prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria.
Other healthy habits for the intestinal microbiota
Diet is one of the most determining factors in the composition of the intestinal flora, but not the only one. Certain environmental and lifestyle aspects also influence your condition. It is known, for example, that stress negatively affects the intestines; likewise, insufficient rest and lack of exercise.
Furthermore, when we talk about food, it is not only what we eat that influences, but also how we eat it. Therefore, it is convenient to eat slowly and ensure optimal hydration. Finally, to avoid alterations of these bacteria, it is better to abandon harmful habits such as the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
The Mediterranean diet is also good for intestinal health
The well-prepared Mediterranean diet, with traditional, fresh and unprepared foods, is one of the healthiest in terms of health. In addition to its well-known benefits on the vascular and cerebral level, we can now also add benefits on the intestinal level, as it contains ideal foods and nutrients for the microbiota.
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