Another study is extolling the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, this time in regard to aging. Researchers say the diet—which is heavy on fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and fish—appears to improve gut bacteria in ways that keep seniors physically and mentally healthy, reports CNN. The study in the British Medical Journal involved about 600 people ages 65 to 79 in the UK, France, Italy, Poland, and the Netherlands. Roughly half were put on the diet for one year, and the others continued to eat their normal, non-Mediterranean diet. In 12 months, scientists found all kinds of benefits in the microbiome of those eating Mediterranean-style. Among others things: an increase in the growth of bacteria linked to improved brain function and memory, and a decrease in possibly dangerous inflammatory markers.
Researchers also spotted changes in the "gut microbiota" associated with a reduced risk of frailty, reports New Atlas. "What we did not know was that consuming this diet changes our internal microbial ecosystem—the gut microbiome—and that (it is) probably this that makes the diet work," microbiologist Paul O'Toole of University College Cork in Ireland tells Newsweek. "It is not just the food ingredients that are healthy, but how it is converted into beneficial metabolites by the bacterial community it stimulates in the gut." The results suggest that changing your overall diet might be a better approach than adding probiotic or prebiotic supplements when it comes to having a healthy microbiome, per New Atlas. The benefits were consistent no matter the subject's nationality, age, or weight. (Read more Mediterranean diet stories.)