Can Exercise Boost My Gut Health?

Can Exercise Boost My Gut Health?

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Research suggests that people who exercise more tend to have better digestion that supports the immune system, digestion as well as mood.

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In our intestines lies the microbiome of our gut which is home to trillions of microorganisms which include viruses, bacteria as well as fungi, and microbes. Researchers believe they are just getting started comprehending how our biodiversity guts affect our well-being. Evidence suggests that the microorganisms living in our gut when they are diverse and healthy can help with digestion, control your immune system prevent certain diseases, and enhance mood.


Much evidence suggests that exercise is a part of the equation.


There’s plenty happening when we exercise. it allows more oxygen to get to our brain and bloodstream Our body’s temperature rises and there’s a re-distribution of blood flow. Researchers believe that this is a great environment for the microbiome bacteria of our bodies to thrive, even though the precise mechanisms behind this are unidentified, says Taylor Valentino, Ph.D. and a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City in Utah, which is where he studies the link between the development of muscle and microbiome.


“Exercising causes important changes that help gut microbes to bloom and convert, and, coinciding with that, we get molecules our bodies can utilize,” Dr. Valentino says.


So, a consistent workout routine can help maintain an overall healthy gut. However, studies suggest that a healthier digestive system could be connected to better performance, too.


Science Says Exercise Makes for a Healthy Gut

In simple terms, the majority of bacteria living in our guts are in an intimate relationship with our bodies. This means that they aid in body function and our bodies aid in the growth and health of microorganisms. They create vitamin supplements, fatty acids along with amino acids which are essential for immune system function metabolism, mood control, and many more.


Regular exercise speeds up the process, increasing the diversity of microbes that live within the gut, and allowing bacteria to thrive as per Jacob Allen, Ph.D. who is an associate professor in exercise physiological sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


There is an ever-growing amount of evidence that exercise can indeed help encourage a varied digestive microbiome.


In research published in the year 2018 in the Journal of Medical and Science in Sports and Exercise Dr. Allen’s team enrolled 32 people who were not regular exercisers prior to the beginning of the study. Half of the participants were obese and the other half had normal weight.


Both groups were given six weeks of controlled exercises which gradually intensified beginning with 30 mins of fast walking, and progressing to an hour-long spin class three times a week. (The researchers did not alter the participants’ diets as well as eating routines.) Then, both groups were requested to refrain from exercise for six weeks.


Fecal and blood samples, in addition to tests of aerobic fitness, were taken at the beginning and end of the study at the end of six weeks of training as well as after six weeks without exercise. The majority of the participants showed higher levels of short-chain fats (the essential ingredient in decreasing inflammation within the body and controlling the levels of blood sugar) and gut microbes that produced them after six weeks of exercising. Following six weeks of exercise the guts of the participants returned to what they were like before the beginning of the study.


The microbiome is constantly active and reacts not just to the food that you use to fuel it as well to how you move around during your whole day Allen says. “With this study, we saw how exercise is changing that ecosystem,” Allen says, and the consequences of these changes (meaning the rise or decrease in healthy short-chain fat acid levels).


study that was published in the year 2017 in the journal PLoS one which followed 40 women aged 18 to 40 also revealed that exercise improved the quality of the microbiota in their gut. Half of the group did at least three hours during seven days; the other half exercised for less than 1.5 hours each week. The stools of the participants and DNA sequencing showed significant differences in the levels of 11 kinds of bacteria. Women who exercised showed more health-promoting bacteria (like Roseburia hominis and Akkermansia muciniphila).


In a study on mice that was published in the year 2016 in Immunology and Cell Biology, Marc Cook, Ph.D., assistant professor at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensville and an American College of Sports Medicine-certified clinical exercise physiologist. his team found that exercising can increase the number of Lactobacillus (a bacteria associated with lower cholesterol and aids in the treatment of the symptoms associated with irritable bowel disorder and decreasing loose stools and diarrhea) within the colon.


“This may be one way that exercise strengthens intestinal barrier function and reduces inflammation to improve health,” Dr. Cook says.


Does a Healthier Gut Help Boost Your Workouts?

Valentino refers to the study that was published in the year the journal Nature Medicine (PDF) which revealed that the stool samples of marathon runners are higher in another bacterium, called Veillonella when compared to non-runners. The amount for this microorganism was greater during exercise and was even than before running the marathon.


Véillonella is an organism that consumes lactate, that our bodies create when we exercise hard -and transforms it into propionate, which is a short-chain fatty acid that can boost your energy levels. Researchers from the Harvard Medical School scientists behind the study suggest that exercise causes the Veillonella microbes to grow in the gut, resulting in the extra energy boost required to sustain endurance running.


5 Ways to Make Your Exercise Routine a Gut-Friendly One

Are certain kinds of exercise beneficial for your stomach? The following are the opinions of experts:

1. Focus on Cardio

At present, research that has linked exercise to better gut health has been focused on aerobic exercises, and not so much on the training for resistance, for example, lifting weights. This doesn’t mean that pumping iron won’t benefit or improve your health and well-being, it’s that scientists haven’t looked into this issue in the past, Allen says.


Allen included participants in the study engaging in aerobic cardiovascular exercises (like cycling or jogging) each day during 30-60 minutes, with the target speed of 60 percent or more of the maximum rate, advancing to 75 percent. When you’re at 60 percent you’ll be able to talk comfortably and keep steady breathing and breathing. 75 percent is considered to be “vigorous exercise,” where you could be breaking a sweat, and breathing speed increases, Cook says.


Other activities, such as rowing, swimming, or skipping are methods to increase your cardiovascular fitness as well, Cook says.


2. Be Consistent

To ensure that you keep the healthy microbes in your digestive tract in check, you’ll need to continue exercising and incorporate it into your daily routine.


“Consistency is number one because you can lose the beneficial effects if you don’t keep exercising,” Cook adds. Notably, in Allen’s research the microbiomes of participants’ guts changed in the course of six weeks of working out however, they reverted back within six weeks after they quit exercising also.


As you’ll lose endurance if you stop exercising for a few weeks the gut microbiome is likely to decrease the production of beneficial microbes when you quit running, Cook warns.


3. Start Small

If you’re just starting from the beginning and aren’t familiar with the exercise, take your time and ease into the gym, Valentino says. “Don’t go from couch to marathon,” he says. In the beginning, you do not want to suffer to sustain injuries, and you’ll want to establish a lasting habit.


“The goal is giving your microbiome a constant fuel source through exercise,” the doctor states.


4. Get Outdoors

Nature exposure enhances our exposure to diverse ecosystems and the bacteria that live within the ecosystems. “If we’re outdoors, running in a park, or along the ocean, we’re breathing in very diverse communities of bacteria that are in the air,” says Christopher Lowry, Ph.D., psychologist and associate professor of the University of Colorado in Boulder which is where his work concentrates on the gut microbiome as well as anxiety-related disorders.


He cites the results of a Finnish research study which showed that children who played outside on the ground in the dirt, amid flowers and plants were more affluent, had a more diverse gut microbiome as well as a less inflammatory immune system when compared to their peers in a daycare center in urban areas.


5. Don’t Forget Nutrition

What you put into your food each day can have just the same impact on the health of your gut as does your workout routine, Cook says. When you’re out shopping for groceries and planning your meal make sure you know that the gut microbiome is a fan of fermented food, which is full of yeast and bacteria.


The natural probiotics comprise:

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi


The microbiome of your gut thrives on the diversity of plants also. So, you must consume plenty of fruits, vegetables as well as nuts and seeds. A study published in the American Society for Microbiology in May 2018 recommended eating 30 different vegetables per week to boost our microbiome to enhance our gut health.

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