Specific Mediterranean foods can be beneficial for a healthier gut as they help bacteria with anti-inflammatory properties to thrive, a study has claimed.
Researchers from the University Medical Center Groningen in the Netherlands said an individual with plant-based foods and Mediterranean-influenced diet of legumes, bread, fish, nuts and red wine was likely to have high levels of healthy gut bacteria.
The study of four groups -- the general population, people with Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, and patients with irritable bowel syndrome -- identified 61 food items associated with microbial populations and 49 correlations between food patterns and microbial groups.
According to lead author and dietitian Laura Bolte, the study supports the idea that a specific diet can be an effective way to treat or manage intestinal diseases.
"Diet is likely to become a significant line of treatment for diseases of the gut by modulating these microbiomes," Bolte said in the findings presented today at the United European Gastroenterology Week 2019, the largest gastroenterology meeting in Europe.
Researchers said that plant-based foods aided the biosynthesis of essential nutrients and the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), the main source of energy for cells lining the colon.
The study stated that the dietary patterns rich in bread, legumes, fish, and nuts were associated with a decrease in potentially harmful, aerobic bacteria, and higher consumption of these foods lowered levels of inflammatory markers in the stool.
It found that a higher intake of meat, fast foods or refined sugar decrease beneficial bacterial functions and increase inflammatory markers.