The All-Star Mediterranean Diet Might Improve Your Gut Health Better Than Other Diets Can

Photo: Stocksy/Lydia Cazorla
At this point, what's not to love about the Mediterranean diet? Recent studies have found that it could keep your bones strong as you age and help slow the aging process. The latest research is making it clear that its benefits are essentially never-ending: Scientists now say the diet might improve your gut health, too.

In a study published in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition, researchers split 20 nonhuman primates between two groups that were fed a different diet for 30 months: one that ate a typical Western-style diet that included lard, beef tallow, butter, eggs, cholesterol, high-fructose corn syrup, and sucrose (AKA sugar); and the other that ate a Mediterranean diet of fish oil, olive oil, fish meal, butter, eggs, black and garbanzo bean flour, wheat flour, vegetable juice, fruit puree, and sucrose. After the test study period, researchers collected rectal-content samples from the primates and randomly selected 10 in total to analyze.

The Mediterranean diet increased the good gut bacteria by 7 percent, compared to just 0.5 percent in the meat-focused diet.

The results showed that although both diets comprised the same number of calories, the primates on the Mediterranean diet had significantly higher gut bacteria diversity than those on the Western diet. In fact, the more-plant-based diet increased the good bacteria by 7 percent, compared to just 0.5 percent in the meat-focused diet.

"We have about 2 billion good and bad bacteria living in our gut. If the bacteria are of a certain type and not properly balanced, our health can suffer," lead study author Hariom Yadav, PhD, says in a press release. "Our study showed that the good bacteria, primarily lactobacillus, most of which are probiotic, were significantly increased in the Mediterranean diet group."

Whether you want to elongate your lifespan or simply keep your gut happy, it's obvious that the Mediterranean diet has some solid benefits. But if you really need to think it over, may we suggest a little island-hopping in Greece and Croatia to investigate it up close? (You're welcome.)

Here's how the Mediterranean diet could also help you live longer. Plus, learn the real reason Mediterranean chefs love cooking with olive oil.

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