Good gut bacteria may increase with exercise, protein intake

Good gut bacteria may increase with exercise, protein intake - study
Photo: RIA Novosti
Researchers seem to come up with new benefits of exercising in almost every study. The latest research found that regular exercise may encourage good bacteria diversity in the gut, while inactivity could do the opposite, Fox News cites a new study from Ireland published in the journal Gut.
By Olga Yazhgunovich: Lots of studies have previously shown that people who have "large and diverse" populations of germs in their digestive tracts tend to be less susceptible to obesity, immune problems, and other health disorders than people with low microbial diversity, so it's possible that frequent exercise may improve metabolism and overall health and help people lose weight by altering the bacteria inside of them. To prove this, researchers looked at professional rugby players attending their team's preseason training camp, as well as at 46 young Irish men who formed two comparison groups and found that the athletes had a more diverse collection of bacteria in their digestive systems than other healthy men. One comparison group included men who had a body mass index (BMI) in the normal range, (25 or less), and were generally fit (exercised lightly); the other group of men were overweight or obese, with a BMI of 28 or more, and were less fit, Live Science reports. "We chose professional athletes as a study group, because we wanted to be sure not to miss any effect of exercise and needed a group who were safely performing at the extremes of human endeavor," said Dr. Fergus Shanahan, an author of the study, professor of gastroenterology and director of the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Center at University College Cork. The scientists drew blood and collected stool samples from all of the men, asked them to complete detailed questionnaires about their exercise and diet, and spoke with a nutritionist about their typical daily food intake. Then the scientists analyzed the men's blood for markers of muscle damage and inflammation, which would indicate how much each volunteer had - or had not - been moving and exercising recently. The scientists also used sophisticated genetic sequencing techniques to identify and enumerate the particular microbes living in each man's gut. It showed that the rugby players had considerably more diversity as well as larger numbers of a particular bacterium, uneuphoniously named Akkermansiaceae that has been linked in past studies with a decreased risk for obesity and systemic inflammation, NYT reports. This may be the result of athletes eating more calories, fruits, vegetables, fat, and protein. The latter represented 22 percent of the athletes' total calories, but only 15 to 16 percent of the comparison groups'. Such nutritional differences can affect which microbes thrive in the gut. "We don't know for certain if it is the exercise per se, or the dietary changes accompanying exercise that mediate the change in microbial diversity," Dr. Shanahan said. "It may have been the combination." Although the exact mechanism remains unclear, Shanahan says he suspects both diet and exercise have a positive influence on microbial diversity, which in turn boosts the immune system while preventing the body's inflammatory response from becoming overactive. The amount of exercise needed to multiply gut bacteria is also not known, the researchers said. But it's clear that people do not need to be professional athletes to see some of the benefits. Meanwhile Dr. Shanahan and his colleagues have begun a follow-up study examining whether and how moderate exercise changes the gut environment in both men and women. The results should be available later this year. Source:

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