Effects of a mediterranean diet on the gut microbiota and microbial metabolites: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials and observational studies

Rachel Kimble, Phebee Gouinguenet, Ammar Ashor, Christopher Stewart, Kevin Deighton, Jamie Matu, Alex Griffiths, Fiona C. Malcomson, Abraham Joel, David Houghton, Emma Stevenson, Anne-Marie Minihane, Mario Siervo, Oliver M. Shannon, John C. Mathers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Consumption of the Mediterranean dietary pattern (MedDiet) is associated with reduced risk of numerous non-communicable diseases. Modulation of the composition and metabolism of the gut microbiota represents a potential mechanism through which the MedDiet elicits these effects. We conducted a systematic literature search (Prospero registration: CRD42020168977) using PubMed, The Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, SPORTDiscuss, Scopus and CINAHL databases for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and observational studies exploring the impact of a MedDiet on gut microbiota composition (i.e., relative abundance of bacteria or diversity metrics) and metabolites (e.g., short chain fatty acids). Seventeen RCTs and 17 observational studies were eligible for inclusion in this review. Risk of bias across the studies was mixed but mainly identified as low and unclear. Overall, RCTs and observational studies provided no clear evidence of a consistent effect of a MedDiet on composition or metabolism of the gut microbiota. These findings may be related to the diverse methods across studies (e.g., MedDiet classification and analytical techniques), cohort characteristics, and variable quality of studies. Further, well-designed studies are warranted to advance understanding of the potential effects of the MedDiet using more detailed examination of microbiota and microbial metabolites with reference to emerging characteristics of a healthy gut microbiome.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8698-8719
Number of pages22
JournalCritical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition
Issue number27
Early online date1 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Gut microbiota
  • Healthy aging
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Short-chain fatty acids

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