Highlights from

UEGW 2019

United European Gastroenterology Week 2019

Barcelona, Spain 19 - 23 October 2019

Plant-based foods and Mediterranean diet associated with healthy gut microbiome

Dietician Laura Bolte (University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands) reported findings that certain foods such as legumes, bread, fish, nuts, and wine are associated with high levels of favourable gut bacteria which can aid the biosynthesis of essential nutrients and the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), the main source of energy for cells lining the colon [1].

The investigators analysed stool samples provided by 1,423 participants in 4 separate study groups: the general population, patients with Crohn's disease, patients with ulcerative colitis, and those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The host's microbiota was then analysed and compared with the results of a food frequency survey. The results identified 61 individual food items associated with microbial populations and 49 correlations between food patterns and microbial groups.

The findings support the idea that the diet could be an effective management strategy for intestinal diseases, through the modulation of the gut bacteria. Briefly, they identified that dietary patterns rich in bread, legumes, fish, and nuts, were associated with a decrease in potentially harmful, aerobic bacteria. Higher consumption of these foods was also associated with lower levels of inflammatory markers in stool that are known to rise during intestinal inflammation. In contrast, a higher intake of meat, fast foods, or refined sugar was associated with a decrease in beneficial bacterial functions and an increase in inflammatory markers. Red wine, legumes, vegetables, fruit, cereals, fish, and nuts were associated with a higher abundance of bacteria with anti-inflammatory functions. Plant-based diets were found to be associated with high levels of bacterial SCFA production, the main source of energy for cells lining the colon. Furthermore, plant protein was found to help the biosynthesis of vitamins and amino acids as well as the breaking down of sugar alcohols and ammonium excretion. In conclusion, animal-derived and plant-derived protein showed opposite associations on the gut microbiota.

Commenting, lead researcher Bolte said, "We looked in depth at the association between dietary patterns or individual foods and gut microbiota. Connecting the diet to the gut microbiome gives us more insight into the relation between diet and intestinal disease. The results indicate that diet is likely to become a significant and serious line of treatment or disease management for diseases of the gut - by modulating the gut microbiome".

  1. Bolte L et al. Towards anti-inflammatory dietary recommendations based on the relation between food and the gut microbiome composition in 1423 individuals. UEG Week Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, October 19-23, 2019, Abstract OP052.

The content and interpretation of these conference highlights are the views and comments of the speakers/authors.