Mediterranean Diet Positively Alters the Gut Microbiome (Study with Recipes)

By Bill Bradley, R.D.
Updated December 6, 2021

Another study has arrived showing that adherence to a Mediterranean Diet significantly alters the gut microbiome.  The study was published in the aptly named British Medical Journal “Gut”.

What is the Gut Microbiome and Why Do We Care?

The gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live mostly in your large intestine. A diet consisting of highly processed foods promotes the growth of unhealthy gut bacteria that are associated with increased risk of inflammation, heart disease, diabetes and probably cancer. This new study suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet in older adults increases healthy gut bacteria associated with healthier aging.

The study showed that following a Mediterranean diet leads to decreased risk of frailty in elders as well as decreased inflammation and increased cognitive function. Researchers looked at 600 individuals between the ages of 65 and 79 from various European countries. Tests were performed analyzing their microbiomes before and after 12 months of adhering to the Mediterranean diet. After a year of eating Mediterranean, the individuals in the study had a reduced production of harmful microorganisms in their guts.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

There’s a war happening in the gut when your microbiome is out of balance. It can be swayed by sending in reinforcements (probiotics) and the food they need to continue fighting (prebiotics). Probiotic foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi contain healthy bacteria that aid in digestion and metabolism. In turn, these beneficial bacteria replace the negative kinds that flourish in response to diets consisting of highly processed foods. Another positive influence on our microbiomes are prebiotic foods. Prebiotic foods, including asparagus, apples, chicory, and garlic, all contain dietary fiber that acts as a food source for the positive gut bacteria.

Gut Microbiome Diet

If you want to begin modulating the composition of your gut microbiome, a Mediterranean diet is a great place to start. With a strong focus on fruits and vegetables as well as prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods such as greek yogurt, the Mediterranean diet is likely to help you promote good bacteria in your gut. All in all, a healthier microbiome will improve your relationship with your diet and the ways in which your body receives the energy and nutrients from the foods you eat.


Here are some delicious recipes that contain prebiotics, probiotics, and one that contains both. Try to get a healthy dose of prebiotics and probiotics every day.


Sautéed Chicory Greens Southern Italian Style


Sheet Pan Salmon with Asparagus, Lemon, and Dill


Lemony Asparagus With Garlic



Italian Giardiniera


Deep-Sea Purple Kraut


Apple, Walnut and Gorgonzola Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette


Prebiotics and Probiotics

Loaded Tzatziki Yogurt Sauce with Fresh Dill, Garlic and Cucumber


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