By now, you’ve probably heard about the ever-popular Mediterranean diet. Health experts everywhere have been touting the diet for its myriad health benefits, including lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and even staving off depression. Now, results from a recent study suggest that the Mediterranean diet has even more positive effects — namely, boosting gut health.
The research, presented at EWG Week in October 2019, suggests that eating a plant-based Mediterranean-style diet complete with whole grains, “healthy” fats, vegetables, legumes, nuts, wine, and fruit can help the good bacteria in the gut thrive. For the research, scientists out of the University Medical Center Groningen in The Netherlands studied the eating habits of four groups of over 1,400 subjects, while also monitoring their gut bacteria through stool samples. By the end of the study, they found that a Mediterranean-style diet was linked to healthier gut bacteria, as well as lower levels of inflammatory markers that are commonly associated with conditions like IBS and IBD, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
According to the research, those that followed diets that were abundant in meat, sugar, or fast foods had lower levels of “good” gut bacteria and higher levels of inflammatory markers. Also, plant protein showed to be better for gut bacteria than animal protein, and to help with the breakdown of sugar, ammonium (a chemical that is toxic at high levels) secretion, and the of synthesizing vitamins and amino acids in the body.
So what’s all this got to do with weight loss? Maintaining healthy gut bacteria is a major key in losing weight. Proper digestion of nutrients and excretion of waste is essential, as is not over-eating! Your gut microbiota affects your metabolic health by regulating how food is digested, and it can produce chemicals that help make you feel full.
Research has shown that keeping a healthy GI tract is a major factor in weight management. What’s more, higher levels of inflammatory markers have also been linked to obesity and weight gain, so keeping these low by eating a Mediterranean diet can protect you from gaining pounds and getting sick!
So there you have it — the most recent science, yet again, suggests that a healthy gut is a major player when it comes to taking care of our bodies, whether we’re trying to lose weight or not, and that a Mediterranean-style diet can get you there. So next time you’re at the grocery story, stock up on delicious foods like fish, nuts, whole grains, and nutritious fruits and vegetables. You can read more detailed Mediterranean diet guidelines here and as always, talk to your doctor before starting any new plan.
Here’s to a healthier, happier gut!
This article originally appeared on our sister site, First for Women.