Diets Rich in Vegetables May Reduce Heart Disease Risk Through Microbiome Changes

Prof. Danilo Ercolini, PhD Department of Agricultural Sciences University of Naples Federico II Portici - Interview with:
Prof. Danilo Ercolini, PhD
Department of Agricultural Sciences
University of Naples Federico II
Portici – Italy

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Prof. Ercolini: There is a thick body of literature showing that diet can significantly impact the gut microbiota and metabolome.

In a recent study, negligible differences in gut microbiota and feca lshort-chain fatty acids (SCFA) were reported between habitual omnivores and vegans in the USA.

In addition, Mediterranean diet is a recognized healthy dietary pattern but has not previously been related to the composition of the gut microbiota and related metabolome. That’s the background in short.

Here we show how habitual vegetarian and vegan diets promote enrichment of fibre-degrading bacteria in the gut.

Subjects who consume a Mediterranean diet rich in fruit, legumes and vegetables have higher levels of fecal short chain fatty acids, regardless of the diet type.

Low adherence to the Mediterranean diet corresponds to an increase in urinary trimethylamine oxide levels, a potential risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Prof. Ercolini: Microbiota modulation through consumption of diets rich in diverse vegetable foods offers the prospect of increasing health and mitigating disease risk.

The increase in abundance in beneficial microbes and their metabolites is boosted by increase in vegetable foods consumption and adherence to the Mediterranean diet model.

Western omnivore diets are not necessarily detrimental when a certain consumption level of plant foods is included.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Prof. Ercolini: Our study was observational, SCFA levels can naturally vary as a result of age and gender, and the study did not set out to establish any causal links.

Interventional research will be necessary to establish how we can modify the diet to affect a specific cut of the gut bacteria and make them work for the host benefit.

-I believe this is what healthy foods’ design should be after in the near future.


High-level adherence to a Mediterranean diet beneficially impacts the gut microbiota and associated metabolome

Francesca De Filippis, Nicoletta Pellegrini, Lucia Vannini, Ian B Jeffery, Antonietta La Storia,Luca Laghi, Diana I Serrazanetti, Raffaella Di Cagno, Ilario Ferrocino, Camilla Lazzi,Silvia Turroni, Luca Cocolin, Patrizia Brigidi, Erasmo Neviani, Marc Gobbetti, Paul W O’Toole, Danilo Ercolini

Gut gutjnl-2015-309957Published Online First: 28 September 2015 doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2015-309957

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Prof. Danilo Ercolini (2015). Diets Rich in Vegetables May Reduce Heart Disease Risk Through Microbiome Changes 

Last Updated on September 29, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD