The newsletter of the University of Navarra and the IOC dedicated to health
Important scientific advances have suggested that the gut microbiota is involved in several biological processes and has an influence on diverse human diseases. This week’s newsletter brings you information on studies showing that diet can influence the relationship between gut microbiota and individual health outcomes. A systematic review evaluated the effects of the Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) on the composition and metabolism of the gut microbiota. Results showed that the MedDiet could affect the microbial ecosystem due to changes in the substrates flowing to the large bowel. In another study, investigators revealed that greater adherence to the MedDiet is associated with lower visceral adipose tissue and inflammation levels (C-reactive protein), and these associations could be explained by mediation of the gut microbiome (higher relative abundance of Porphyromonadaceae and lower relative abundance of Peptostreptococcaceae). Nonetheless, these findings should be validated in further studies.
This week, two recent reviews have focused specifically on olive oil, the main culinary component of the MedDiet, and have gone over its beneficial effects on several chronic diseases, especially cardiovascular diseases. In the first review, the authors highlighted the benefits shown in the PREDIMED clinical trial regarding the reduction of the incidence of serious cardiovascular events in the MedDiet with extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) and the MedDiet with nuts groups compared with the low-fat diet group (incidence rates were 8.1, 8.0, and 11.2 per 1,000 person-years, respectively).
The second review focused on the health effects of polyphenols present in olive mill waste water (OMWW), a by-product of olive oil production. OMWW extracts are rich in polyphenols, with phenolic acids such as hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol being most abundant. Both have shown potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects, and anti-cancer properties, making them potential candidates for areas of research in cancer prevention and treatment. Hydroxytyrosol is additionally known for its cardioprotective and neuroprotective properties and tyrosol for its anti-microbial properties. Moreover, there is some evidence to suggest that other phenolic compounds in OMWW may have regulating effects on insulin and blood sugar. Overall, the potential biomedical uses of OMWW constitute an interesting line of research given that it would also indirectly contribute to the reduction of waste in the production of olive oil, making the entire process more sustainable.
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