The Perfect Combo: Why Olive Oil and Mediterranean Diet Go Hand in Hand

Mar 02, 2016 04:20 AM EST | By Staff Reporter

A study shows that Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) consumed along with olive oil can positively influence gut bacteria, insulin sensitivity and metabolic syndrome. Researchers revealed to Olive Oil Times, "Long-term consumption of the Med and LHFCC diet exerts a protective effect on the development of type 2 diabetes by different specific changes in gut microbiota."

The study, which was published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, monitored the effects of the MedDiet and a low fat, high complex carbohydrate (LHFCC) diet in terms of bacterial diversity in relation to insulin sensitivity and type 2 diabetes. The results showed that both diets showed changes in bacterial diversity but manifested in different ways. With the MedDiet, there was an increase of the Roseburia genus. For the LHFCC diet, it was the increase of F. prausnitzii. Both the Roseburia genus and F. prausnitzii are burryate producing bacteria, which means they help reduce stress-causing oxidants and reduce inflammation by supplying short chain fatty acids.

Another effect that researchers noticed was that people that adhered to the MedDiet had much higher P. distasonis, B. thetaiotsmicron, B. adolescentis, and B. longum, while those that followed the LHFCC diet had higher E. rectale and lower P. distasonis.

For those who are not familiar, a MedDiet emphasizes the following:

  • Eating more fruits, vegetables, fish, and poultry
  • Replacing butter and lard with healthy fats (which is where olive oil comes in)
  • Using herbs and spices to enhance flavor
  • Lessening the intake of red meat
  • Drinking red wine moderately

This diet regimen has been highly recommended by a number of health associations, including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Aside from influencing gut microbiota and insulin sensitivity, it is also well-known for reducing the risk of heart disease. A separate study shows that those who followed this diet have lower chances of heart failure, cancer, and even Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease.

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