Sun, 07 Jun, 2020

For a healthy gut feeling!

11th August 2019, 02:55 Hrs

Felipe Alvares

The relationship between exercise and physical and mental health has been well-recorded. But newest research has now identified a type of bacteria found in the microbiomes of athletes that contributes to improved capacity for exercise. These bacteria, members of the genus Veillonella, are not found in the guts of physically inactive people. Veillonella has been recorded to metabolize lactic acid, produced by exercise, into propionate, a short chain fatty acid which the human body then utilizes to improve exercise capacity. Not only does this spell good news for athletes but for the layman who indulges in regular exercise too, especially because, having increased exercise capacity is a strong predictor of overall health and protection against cardiovascular disease, diabetes and overall longevity.

Colonies of bacteria residing in the gut have a powerful impact on health. This new research suggests that exercise not only has a positive impact on gut bacteria, but that the gut bacteria may, in turn, benefit exercise performance. This, in itself, may be a powerful motivator to everyone who shies away from exercising as getting into the exercise grind may actually push you to work out more often as your gut bacteria improve in culture and efficiency and prompt you to do better in your workouts. This research also justifies a shift from cardio’s long-standing focus on calorie burning to a focus on gut-health enhancement and disease prevention. The symbiotic relationship between the microbes and its human host creates a positive feedback loop, wherein the host first produces something that this particular microbe favours, and then, in return, the microbe creates something that benefits the host!  

There have been studies proving that exercise alone, without any dietary changes, is enough to change the composition of gut bacteria. This could spell good news for all those at the mercy of severe gastrointestinal distress such as repeated flatulence and bloating, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease as exercise was found to boost the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that reduce inflammation and keep the gut healthy. Further, exercise was also shown to reduce the load of gut bacteria that have the potential of causing inflammation while simultaneously increasing beneficial bacteria which have links with a better metabolism. This could be one more reason for advocating exercise to keep obesity and diabetes at bay. Additionally, endurance training was found to lower the activity of the vascular adhesion protein-1, which scientists think has anti-inflammatory effects on the vascular system. All in all, you have everything to gain once you begin exercising!

If ever you needed another reason to exercise, you’ve got one now! Exercise can change the composition of your gut microbiome, independent of diet and other factors. Improve the quality of your life … hit the gym!  

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