Gut microbiota dysbiosis is a common feature in colorectal cancer (CRC) and inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Adoption of the Mediterranean diet (MD) has been proposed as a therapeutic approach for the prevention of multiple diseases, and one of its mechanisms of action is the modulation of the microbiota. We aimed to determine whether MD can be used as a preventive measure against cancer and inflammation-related diseases of the gut, based on its capacity to modulate the local microbiota. A joint meta-analysis of publicly available 16S data derived from subjects following MD or other diets and from patients with CRC, IBD, or other gut-related diseases was conducted. We observed that the microbiota associated with MD was enriched in bacteria that promote an anti-inflammatory environment but low in taxa with pro-inflammatory properties capable of altering intestinal barrier functions. We found an opposite trend in patients with intestinal diseases, including cancer. Some of these differences were maintained even when MD was compared to healthy controls without a defined diet. Our findings highlight the unique effects of MD on the gut microbiota and suggest that integrating MD principles into a person's lifestyle may serve as a preventive method against cancer and other gut-related diseases.
Keywords: 16S; Mediterranean diet; adenoma; colorectal cancer; inflammation; meta-analysis; microbiota.