Objectives: Habitual diet plays a major role in shaping the composition of the gut microbiota, and also determines the repertoire of microbial metabolites that can influence the host. The typical Western diet corresponds to that of an omnivore; however, the Mediterranean diet (MD), common in the Western Mediterranean culture, is to date a nutritionally recommended dietary pattern that includes high-level consumption of cereals, fruit, vegetables and legumes. To investigate the potential benefits of the MD in this cross-sectional survey, we assessed the gut microbiota and metabolome in a cohort of Italian individuals in relation to their habitual diets.
Design and results: We retrieved daily dietary information and assessed gut microbiota and metabolome in 153 individuals habitually following omnivore, vegetarian or vegan diets. The majority of vegan and vegetarian subjects and 30% of omnivore subjects had a high adherence to the MD. We were able to stratify individuals according to both diet type and adherence to the MD on the basis of their dietary patterns and associated microbiota. We detected significant associations between consumption of vegetable-based diets and increased levels of faecal short-chain fatty acids, Prevotella and some fibre-degrading Firmicutes, whose role in human gut warrants further research. Conversely, we detected higher urinary trimethylamine oxide levels in individuals with lower adherence to the MD.
Conclusions: High-level consumption of plant foodstuffs consistent with an MD is associated with beneficial microbiome-related metabolomic profiles in subjects ostensibly consuming a Western diet.
Trial registration number: This study was registered at clinical trials.gov as NCT02118857.
Keywords: DIET; DIETARY FIBRE; ENTERIC BACTERIAL MICROFLORA; INTESTINAL BACTERIA; SHORT CHAIN FATTY ACIDS.
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