Mediterranean diet consumption affects the endocannabinoid system in overweight and obese subjects: possible links with gut microbiome, insulin resistance and inflammation.
Eur J Nutr. 2021 Mar 24. Epub 2021 Mar 24. PMID: 33763720
PURPOSE: To investigate whether a Mediterranean diet (MD) affected the plasma concentrations of endocannabinoids (ECs), N-acylethanolamines (NAEs) and their specific ratios in subjects with lifestyle risk factors for metabolic diseases. To identify the relationship between circulating levels of these compounds and gut microbiome, insulin resistance and systemic inflammation.
METHODS: A parallel 8-week randomised controlled trial was performed involving 82 overweight and obese subjects aged (mean ± SEM) 43 ± 1.4 years with a BMI of 31.1 ± 0.5 kg/m, habitual Western diet (CT) and sedentary lifestyle. Subjects were randomised to consume an MD tailored to their habitual energy and macronutrient intake (n = 43) or to maintain their habitual diet (n = 39). Endocannabinoids and endocannabinoid-like molecules, metabolic and inflammatory markers and gut microbiome were monitored over the study period.
RESULTS: The MD intervention lowered plasma arachidonoylethanolamide (AEA, p = 0.02), increased plasma oleoylethanolamide/palmitoylethanolamide (OEA/PEA, p = 0.009) and OEA/AEA (p = 0.006) and increased faecal Akkermansia muciniphila (p = 0.026) independent of body weight changes. OEA/PEA positively correlated with abundance of key microbial players in diet-gut-health interplay and MD adherence. Following an MD, individuals with low-plasma OEA/PEA at baseline decreased homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance index (p = 0.01), while individuals with high-plasma OEA/PEA decreased serum high-sensitive C-reactive protein (p = 0.02).
CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrated that a switch from a CT to an isocaloric MD affects the endocannabinoid system and increases A. muciniphila abundance in the gut independently of body weight changes. Endocannabinoid tone and microbiome functionality at baseline drives an individualised response to an MD in ameliorating insulin sensitivity and inflammation. Clinical Trial Registry number and website NCT03071718; www.clinicaltrials.gov.