A Mediterranean diet combined with exercise can help

Share on Pinterest
A new study suggests that following a Mediterranean diet and exercising regularly could benefit gut health and lead to weight loss. Darina Kopcok/Stocksy
  • A new study shows that adhering to a Mediterranean diet and regular exercise benefited the diversity and composition of the gut microbiome and led to weight loss.
  • The study could pave the way for a new avenue of research exploring the impact of diet and exercise on gut health.
  • Despite the promising results, experts say the study design may have yielded a less definitive result and more research is needed.

A new study investigated the effects of combining a Mediterranean diet with exercise and its impact on the gut microbiome.

The results show changes in the gut microbiota in participants who strictly adhered to the Mediterranean diet and engaged in an exercise program compared to those who followed only a Mediterranean diet.

People in the diet and exercise group also lost more weight.

It is known that a high-quality diet and regular physical activity are beneficial for overall health.

However, experts say diet is essential for weight loss, while exercise benefits cardiovascular, metabolic and cognitive health, as well as strength and balance.

This would be the first study to suggest a synergistic benefit of diet and exercise for gut health and weight loss if its results are confirmed.

The study was recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

For the one-year study, 400 participants aged 55 to 75 with high cardiovascular risk were divided into two groups of 200 individuals each.

Before the trial, researchers collected dietary information, body measurements, blood samples and stool samples to analyze the microbiota using liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry. The information was collected again at the end of the trial.

The first group, the lifestyle intervention group, was placed on a reduced-energy Mediterranean diet and received personal training advice from a dietitian.

Participants were encouraged to take brisk walks, or equivalent, for 45 minutes per day and perform specific strength, balance and flexibility exercises.

Additionally, members of the lifestyle intervention group received two monthly visits from researchers, including a group session, an individual session, and an individual phone call.

The second control group received recommendations for following a Mediterranean diet during two group sessions during the year, without any advice regarding physical activity. As a result, it was up to them to decide how much they adhered to the Mediterranean diet, or as the study puts it, optional.

After one year, researchers found changes in the levels of four metabolites in stool samples belonging to the lifestyle intervention group compared to the control group.

Levels of two of these metabolites, DPA and adrenic acid, were decreased, while levels of oleic acid and 3-MAA were increased. A reduction of Eubacteria hallii And research microbes have also been observed.

The researchers note that some of these differences are associated with changes in certain cardiovascular risk factors. The metabolic processes, or subnetworks, initiated by these metabolites were also of interest to the researchers.

“Physical activity has been observed to have beneficial effects on the composition of the gut microbiota by increasing the abundance of butyrate-producing bacteria or decreasing the abundance of harmful species,” said lead researcher Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvadó, professor at the Department of Biochemistry. and biotechnology at the University of Southern Catalonia, Spain, explained to Medical news today.

Despite the promising results, the different dietary approaches for the lifestyle intervention and control groups make it difficult to draw definitive conclusions.

Both groups were supposed to follow the same energy- or calorie-deficient diet.

“If you look at the characteristics and study the results, and look at (their) Mediterranean diet adherence score, it was significantly different (between the two groups), Dr. Babak Firoozi, a board-certified gastroenterologist with MemorialCare Medical Group in California, says MNT. Dr. Firoozi was not involved in the study.

“In other words, the control group did not follow the diet the way the intervention group did,” Dr. Firoozi explained.

Dr. Salas-Salvadó agreed, noting: “The optional The nature of the diet (of the control group) could have significantly affected the difference between the microbiota results of the two groups, more than the physical activity intervention.

“An unrestricted diet may introduce variability in nutrient intake, impacting gut microbiota composition differently than exercise alone. This variability in diet could overshadow the specific effects of physical activity on the gut microbiome, making it difficult to isolate the sole influence of exercise on microbial outcomes.

— Dr. Jordi Salas-Salvadó, principal investigator

Dr Firoozi proposed that the study may signal the need for further research into the interaction between diet and exercise, although it should be structured differently.

He said the findings on the effects of exercise are different from what he believes to be conventional wisdom when it comes to gut health.

“I don’t think (the authors) can conclusively say (it was the exercise that made the difference), but it’s certainly worth at least applying.” » said Dr Firoozi.

Michelle Routhenstein, a cardiology dietitian and preventive cardiology nutritionist at FullyNourished who was not involved in the study, said some evidence has shown that exercise “can help improve microflora diversity and positively change flora.” Bacteroidetes: Firmicutes relationship in the intestine.

Routhenstein acknowledges, however, that additional studies are needed.

“In my practice, I meet people who have always been athletes and yet suffer from advanced coronary artery disease. Many admit to neglecting their diet, prioritizing exercise and assuming their appearance reflects good cardiometabolic health,” Routhenstein said.

“I believe it is time to stop debating the importance of exercise or nutrition on cardiometabolic health and instead recognize the importance of both. It is essential to understand that optimal health and longevity for the heart, gut, brain, and longevity requires a balanced focus on exercise and nutrition.

— Michelle Routhenstein, registered dietitian nutritionist

Leave a Reply