HealthDay News — For older persons, following a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is associated with an increased abundance of specific taxa linked to markers of lower frailty and improved cognitive function, according to a study published in Gut.

Tarini Shankar Ghosh, PhD, from University College Cork in Ireland, and colleagues profiled the gut microbiota of 612 nonfrail or prefrail individuals in European countries before and after administration of a 12-month MedDiet intervention tailored to elderly individuals.

The researchers observed an association between adherence to the diet and specific microbiome alterations. There was a positive association noted for taxa enriched by the diet with several markers of lower frailty and improved cognitive function; a negative association was seen with inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein and interleukin-17. The diet-modulated microbiome change was associated with an increase in production of short/branch chained fatty acids and lower production of secondary bile acids, p-cresols, ethanol, and carbon dioxide. The bacterial taxa that responded positively to the MedDiet intervention occupied keystone interaction positions, while taxa associated with frailty were peripheral in the networks.

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“The interplay of diet, microbiome and host health is a complex phenomenon influenced by several factors,” the authors write. “While the results of this study shed light on some of the rules of this three-way interplay, several factors such as age, body mass index, disease status and initial dietary patterns may play a key role in determining the extent of success of these interactions.”

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