The role of a Mediterranean diet and physical activity in decreasing age-related inflammation through modulation of the gut microbiota composition

Br J Nutr. 2022 Oct 14;128(7):1299-1314. doi: 10.1017/S0007114521003251. Epub 2021 Aug 23.


Chronic inflammation is known to be a predominant factor in the development of many age-related conditions including CVD, type II diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. Previous studies have demonstrated that during the ageing process there is an increase in inflammatory biomarkers, which may be partially brought about by detrimental changes in the gut microbiota. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) and physical activity (PA) are protective against inflammation and chronic disease, and emerging evidence has shown that these effects may be partially mediated through favourable changes in the gut microbiota. In this review, we have evaluated the published literature on the effect of a MedDiet and PA on the gut microbiota. We also discuss the relationship between the gut microbiota and inflammation with a focus on healthy ageing. While inconsistent study designs make forming definitive conclusions challenging, the current evidence suggests that both a MedDiet and PA are capable of modifying the gut microbiota in a way that is beneficial to host health. For example, the increases in the relative abundance of SCFA producing bacteria that are considered to possess anti-inflammatory properties. Modification of the gut microbiota through a MedDiet and PA presents as a potential method to attenuate age-related increases in inflammation, and additional studies utilising older individuals are needed to fill the knowledge gaps existing in current literature.

Keywords: Gut microbiota; Inflammation; Mediterranean diet; Physical activity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Exercise
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation