Posted on Thu, 3 Jul 14
Higher bacterial diversity in your gut has been associated with better health, and a new study has discovered that exercise may help.
Low gut bacterial diversity is linked to infections, autism, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease. Like any ecosystem, higher diversity indicates health and a recent study looked at the effect of exercise on bacterial health to see if it had an impact.
Researchers analysed the gut bacteria of professional rugby players in the midst of a rigorous training programme and compared the results to healthy men who were not professional athletes, but who were matched in physical size and age.
They found that athletes had a wider range of gut microbiota than men in the comparison group. And the numbers of several microbial types were also higher. In particular, athletes, especially those with a low BMI, had much higher proportions of Akkermansiaceae, a species of bacteria known to be linked to lower rates of obesity and associated metabolic disorders.
They also found that protein accounted for considerably more dietary energy intake in the athletes with a significant amount coming from protein supplements such as whey protein than it did in the comparison group - suggesting high quality protein may also play a role in improving gut bacteria.
“Understanding the complex relationship among what we choose to eat, activity levels and gut microbiota richness is essential,” wrote Dr Georgina Hold, of the Institute of Medical Sciences, Aberdeen University in an accompanying editorial. “As life expectancy continues to increase, it is important that we understand how best to maintain good health. Never has this been more important than in respect of our resident microbiota.”
Clarke S, Murphy E, O’Sullivan O, et al. Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity. Gut 2014. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2013-306541
Hold, GL. The gut microbiota, dietary extremes and exercise. Gut gutjnl-2014-307305Published Online First: 9 June 2014 doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2014-307305
McAllan L, Skuse P, Cotter PD, et al. Protein quality and the protein to carbohydrate ratio within a high fat diet influences energy balance and the gut microbiota In C57BL/6J mice. PLoS One. 2014 Feb 10;9(2):e88904.