The Mediterranean Diet, with olive oil as the main source of fat, has been shown to be ideal for the health of the heart, the brain, the bones … But, given the growing popular interest in the human microbiome and its role in health , various organizations and researchers are trying to determine how olive oil influences the gut microbiota, while questioning whether it could be the starting point from which many of the healthy benefits of the Mediterranean food pattern come from.
Although there are already some pioneering studies that have studied the relationship between olive oil and microbiota, which suggest beneficial effects with respect to the development of obesity and hypertension. But it has not been until recently that it has been noticed that olive oil could have an effect different from other fats on the gut microbiota, which is the set of microorganisms that reside in the intestine.
Don Juan Antonio Nieto Fuentes, professor of the Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Health of the International University of Valencia, explains that in the last decade, research suggests a relationship between the existing profile of intestinal microorganism populations and the physiological state of the individual and currently The relationship between the microbiota and health is being studied to better understand this interaction.
In this sense, Don Juan Antonio Nieto Fuentes claims to have observed that the excess of saturated fats modifies the profile of the microbiota towards a profile designated as unhealthy, since it resembles that found in obese adult individuals. On the contrary, they warned that the consumption of extra virgin olive oil has a potential effect of modulating the microbiota towards a bacterial profile similar to that found in healthy adults.
“This effect has been associated in various studies with the ability of phenolic compounds to increase those populations of bacteria that are associated with a healthy physiological state and an inhibition of bacteria associated with disease states.”
For its part, from the Olive Wellness Institute also point out that with the new movement in favor of healthy eating that takes over social networks and that encourages people to eat a more balanced diet, there has also been an increase in the demand for research about the real benefits of diets considered healthier. There are many studies that are discovering that what we ingest has a great impact on the types of bacteria that live in our microbiome.
Likewise, the Olive Wellness Institute mentions several studies that have shown that the people who follow the Mediterranean Diet the most are home to different and more beneficial bacteria in their gut microbiota, compared to people who follow an unhealthy diet.