Engaging in regular, moderate exercise is good for your heart, of course, but research shows that working out can have a positive effect on the beneficial bacteria living in your gut. There are about 100 trillion bacteria living in your digestive system, according to Harvard Medical School, known collectively as the gut microbiota or gut microbiome. Some of the 5,000 distinct bacterial strains living there are unhealthy and can cause illness. Other strains, known as probiotics, are actually good for your health.
Researchers are beginning to find out that the gut microbiota has an enormous influence on your health. Harmful bacteria can cause illness, of course, but beneficial bacteria help you digest fiber, play a role in controlling your immune system, promote brain health, lower blood sugar, and affect the health of your heart, gut and other organs.
To gain these benefits, though, you need to keep the beneficial bacteria living your gut microbiome in good health. Researchers already know that you have to “feed” your bacteria with its favorite foods, such as legumes, beans and fruit that contain lots of fiber, along with yogurt, sauerkraut and other fermented foods. Feeding your bacteria will promote the growth of beneficial microbes and create a balanced microbiome.
Eating unhealthy food can negatively affect your gut microbiome. Taking antibiotics, drinking alcohol cigarette, smoking, lack of sleep and other factors can also disrupt the bacteria in your digestive tract. Now research shows that exercise alone can alter the composition of the gut microbiota.
Exercise and YOUR Gut
Scientists from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign performed a pair of studies investigating the role exercise plays in the health of gut bacteria, regardless of antibiotic use and other factors. In the first study, the researchers used three groups of lab mice. The first group exercised a lot and the second group didn’t exercise any more than usual. The third group of mice, specially bred in a sterile room and without any microbes in their guts, was sedentary too. The researchers then transferred transplanted fecal material from the active and sedentary mice into the guts of the sterile mice. Recipients of the exercised mice microbiota ended up having microbes that produce butyrate, a type of short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that promotes healthy intestinal cells, decreases inflammation and generates energy for the host. These mice were also more resistant to inflammatory bowel disease.
In the second study, the researchers looked at the gut microbes of 18 lean and 14 obese sedentary adults before the participants entered a six-week exercise program and again afterwards. The participants then engaged in six weeks of sedentary behavior, after which the researchers looked at their gut bacteria again. The participants maintained their normal diets throughout the study. The researchers found that fecal concentrations of SCFAs, particularly butyrate, increased in the human gut as the result of exercise. Butyrate and other short chain fatty acids decreased when the human participants stopped exercising. The results of these studies, and others, show that exercise can improve the health of the microbes in your gut. To keep your digestive tract – and the rest of your body – at peak performance, exercise regularly.
Source: www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ can-gut-bacteria-improve-your-health