Food & Cooking

Researchers Recommend MedDiet to Restore Gut Bacteria

A team at Manchester Metropolitan University in the United Kingdom are working to advance research on the Mediterranean diet and other healthy diets that promote healthy gut bacteria.

3D image of gut bacteria
Oct. 29, 2019
By Lisa Anderson
3D image of gut bacteria

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Indi­vid­u­als who con­sume a typ­i­cal Mediter­ranean diet are less prone to anom­alies in gas­troin­testi­nal micro­biota, a grow­ing body of evi­dence sug­gests.

Now, researchers at Man­ches­ter Met­ro­pol­i­tan Uni­ver­sity (MMU), in the United King­dom, are work­ing to add to this col­lec­tive knowl­edge. Haleh Moravej, a senior lec­turer in nutri­tional sci­ence at MMU, and a team of stu­dents at the uni­ver­sity have launched the Met­MUnch ini­tia­tive in order to do so.

Olive oil as part of a healthy, var­ied and fresh Mediter­ranean diet and as part of a healthy lifestyle will always be ben­e­fi­cial for phys­i­cal and men­tal health.- Haleh Moravej, senior lec­turer in nutri­tional sci­ence at MMU

Sci­en­tists have known for a long time that there is a con­nec­tion between our gut and brain via nerves, but now we have gut bac­te­ria enter­ing the arena,” Moravej told Olive Oil Times.

They com­mu­ni­cate with the brain in three dif­fer­ent ways,” she added, They send sig­nals up the vagus nerve directly to the brain, influ­ence immune cells in the gut that pro­duce chem­i­cals that travel in the blood, and some can get through the blood-brain bar­rier to the brain.”

See more: Olive Oil Health Ben­e­fits

Moravej based the ini­tia­tive on the prin­ci­ple that micro­biota in the human gas­troin­testi­nal tract are respon­si­ble for proper diges­tive func­tion­ing and a strong immune sys­tem. She added that fol­low­ing a healthy eat­ing plan, such as the Mediter­ranean diet, con­tributes to a healthy gas­troin­testi­nal micro­biota.

The diet con­tains many foods that are pro­bi­otic, which pro­vide good food for the bac­te­ria,” Moravej said. The foods are plant-based, such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits.”

All these have ben­e­fi­cial chem­i­cals such as polyphe­nols,” she added. Olive oil as part of a healthy, var­ied and fresh Mediter­ranean diet and as part of a healthy lifestyle will always be ben­e­fi­cial for phys­i­cal and men­tal health.”

Moravej also built on research that sug­gests that anom­alies in these microor­gan­isms have far-reach­ing health effects, and that these irreg­u­lar­i­ties can cause stress-related men­tal dis­or­ders, such as anx­i­ety.

Stud­ies sug­gest that bac­te­ria can affect hor­mones and neu­ro­trans­mit­ters,” Moravej said. Microbes can pro­duce almost every neu­ro­trans­mit­ter found in the human brain.”

We know that peo­ple who have at least 30 plant-based ele­ments in their weekly diet have a more diverse bac­te­ria in their gut, which is asso­ci­ated with bet­ter weight man­age­ment, bet­ter heart health and bet­ter men­tal health,” she added.

Moravej has also worked with Man­ches­ter-based national char­ity Anx­i­ety UK to com­pile a book­let as part of the ini­tia­tive, in which the Mediter­ranean diet and other healthy diets are pro­moted.

Nicky Lid­bet­ter, CEO of Anx­i­ety UK, told Olive Oil Times that the book­let – Nutri­tion and Anx­i­ety: A Self-Help Guide – advises peo­ple to con­sume food that has mood-boost­ing prop­er­ties” and advises on which other types of food to avoid.

It also gives the sci­ence behind how it all works to help bet­ter edu­cate those expe­ri­enc­ing anx­i­ety, stress and anx­i­ety-based depres­sion on what they are eat­ing and why,” she said. Food most def­i­nitely impacts on mood, and there­fore main­tain­ing a healthy diet is impor­tant in the man­age­ment of anx­i­ety.”

How­ever, Moravej added that there is still a lot of research that needs to be done in order to improve the sci­en­tific under­stand­ing of the rela­tion­ship, which is what she plans to con­tinue doing with Anx­i­ety UK and stu­dents in the Met­MUnch ini­tia­tive.

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