Gut microbiota influences the protective association between Mediterranean diet and cardiometabolic disease risk

A recent study published in “Nature Medicine” investigated the relationship between Mediterranean diet, gut microbiota and cardiometabolic disease risk. The study was conducted on 307 men from the Health Professional Follow-up Study cohort who provided information on their eating habits and completed a questionnaire on adherence to the Mediterranean Diet. In order to investigate whether greater adherence to this dietary pattern would promote a favourable composition of the gut microbiota, blood and stool samples were collected, and cardiovascular risk and taxonomic and functional profiles of the gut microbiota were evaluated.

Data analysis showed that subjects with a high adherence to the Mediterranean diet had a greater variety of gut microbial species. In particular, there was an abundance of microorganisms involved in metabolising fibre (F. prausnitzii and B. cellulosilyticus) and short-chain fatty acids, and a reduction in microorganisms associated with red meat (Ruminococcus torques, Collinsella aerofaciens, Clostridium). Furthermore, a lower cardiovascular risk was found in participants with a high adherence to the Mediterranean Diet and a lower concentration of Prevotella copri.

Although the role of gut microbiota in cardiovascular disease remains to be elucidated, these results suggest that diet, and in particular the Mediterranean diet, can modulate cardiovascular risk through an effect on the composition of the gut microbiota. Moreover, these findings advance the concept of precision nutrition and have the potential to inform more effective and precise dietary approaches for the prevention of cardiometabolic disease mediated through alterations in the gut microbiome.

Source: Wang et al., The gut microbiome modulates the protective association between a Mediterranean diet and cardiometabolic disease risk. Nature Medicine 2021;27:333-343.