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Olive oil and intestinal microbiota, an incipient scientific field to be explored

Olive oil and intestinal microbiota, an incipient scientific field to be explored

2018/11/09 - The Mediterranean Diet, with olive oil as the main source of fat, has been shown to be ideal for our health regarding the heart, the brain, bones... But, given the growing popular interest in the human microbiome and its role in health, various organizations and researchers are trying to determine the role played by olive oil in the human gut microbiome, while questioning whether it could be the starting point from which many of the healthy benefits of the Mediterranean food pattern come from.
Although there are already some pioneering studies that have studied the relationship between olive oil and microbiota -which suggest beneficial effects regarding the development of obesity and hypertension-, until recently it was not noticed that olive oil could have any effect different from other fats on the intestinal microbiota, which is the set of microorganisms that reside in the intestine.

Juan Antonio Nieto Fuentes, Professor of the Master's Degree in Nutrition and Health of the International University of Valencia, explains that in the last decade, those studies that suggest a relationship between the existing profile of intestinal microorganism populations and the physiological state of the individual have increased. "In this sense -he say- we are currently studying the relationship between the microbiota and health to better understand this interaction."

And, in this sense, Nieto claims to have observed that the excess of saturated fats modifies the profile of the microbiota towards a profile designated as unhealthy, since it resembles that found in obese adult individuals. On the contrary, they warned that the consumption of extra virgin olive oil has a potential effect of modulating the microbiota towards a bacterial profile similar to that found in healthy adults. "This effect has been associated in several studies to the ability of phenolic compounds to increase those populations of bacteria that are associated with a healthy physiological state and an inhibition of bacteria associated with pathological states," explains the Professor.

For its part, from the Olive Wellness Institute they also point out that with the new movement in favor of healthy food that takes over social networks and that encourages people to eat a more balanced diet, there has also been an increase in the demand for research about the real benefits of diets considered healthier. And, according to the entity, many studies are discovering that what we ingest has a great impact on the types of bacteria that live in our microbiome.

Likewise, the entity mentions several studies that have shown that the people who follow the Mediterranean diet the most are home to different and more beneficial bacteria in their gut microbiota, compared to people who follow an unhealthy diet. And, in general -they concludes- "a healthy microbiota is synonymous with a healthy human".
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