Study Proves Exercise Has A Beneficial Effect On Gut Bacteria Composition

Endurance exercise improves gut bacteria

A person’s microbiome is the diverse population of microbes (bacteria) that live in their gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Any disruption to the normal, healthful balance of bacteria in the microbiome can cause the immune system to overreact. An irritated microbiome contributes to inflammation of the GI tract which in turn leads to the development of symptoms of disease throughout the body (physical well-being), including their brain (mental health).

How gut bacteria affects the brain and body

In order to maintain a level of optimal health one must keep in consideration the wellness of their microbiome. A recent study has found that endurance training (exercising regularly) is a key element in doing so.

The study

A six-week experiment was conducted on sedentary overweight women consisting of endurance training intervention without changing their dietary ways. Throughout the study, the participants’ body composition and gut microbiota composition and functions were analyzed, as well as their total energy and energy-yielding nutrient intakes from food records. In conclusion, the researchers recorded that when maximal power and maximum rate of oxygen consumption increased, android fat masses decreased. Also, the results from the samples they collected strongly suggest that exercise positively alters the gut microbiome.

The research requirements included the participants keep a food diary by using Micro-Nutrica Software to record what and how much they ate and drank (along with each items brand name if applicable). They did this for two days during weekdays and one day during the weekend.

Three training sessions were performed per week on a Precor Studio Team Bike. During weeks 1-2, cycle sessions were 40 minutes long; weeks 3-4, 50 minutes; and weeks 5-6 duration was 1 hour. The intensity of the endurance training during the 6-weeks training period was controlled by heart rate (HR). Subjects were instructed to maintain a constant pedalling frequency of ~60 rpm during each training session (controlled by a metronome).  The magnetic resistance of the ergometer was adjusted to achieve the required exercise intensity. All prescribed training in the study was consistently supervised by qualified instructors. The training was designed to reflect a program aimed for physically active populations according to recommendations outlined by the American College of Sports Medicine.

Data analysis

Fecal samples were collected for 16S rRNA Gene Sequencing and Metagenome Analysis. Blood samples were taken for analysis of clinical variables (glucose, LDL and HDL cholesterol, free fatty acids, triglycerides, and insulin) and Metabolomics; and Soluble VAP-1 (sVAP-1) levels were measured.

From the data collected, Metagenomic analyses revealed an increase in Akkermansia (good bacteria) and a decrease in Proteobacteria (bad bacteria). Training decreased the abundance of several genes including those related to fructose and amino acid metabolism. These changes were independent of age, weight, fat percentage, and energy and fiber intake. Although, a previous study did show that exercise-induced compositional changes in the human gut are more pronounced in lean people than in obese people. Therefore concluding that endurance training has a beneficial impact on one’s gut.

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Conclusion

Several diseases have been linked to having a bad dysbiotic and metabolically unfavorable gut microbiome composition over the past 10 years. Eating the right foods high in fiber is important, but it is not enough. As the study goes to show, exercise is linked to a favorable gut microbiome composition. Therefore, by exercising you are avoiding possible grave health complications in your future.