By Heather Callaghan
Would you be fascinated to know that there is a journal Gut?
Just Gut. One journal completely devoted to gut studies in the realm of gastroenterology. As far science trends are concerned, the gut has become a sexy topic, if you can believe it. But it should be more than that.
A lot of people hear “exercise” and think “yeah, yeah, blah, blah…” Or maybe it’s only a means to become sexy.
But it should be more than that…
This particular study published in journal Gut – albeit a small one – if true, should be all the more proof that movement is a part of diet and not just a separate entity for the body.
Research is finally lending its collective credibility to gut microbiota, immunity and the gut-brain connection. You could have asked farmers half a century ago for another reason they liked antibiotics – it somehow fattened their animals. Yet it is only now that conventional research is drawing a connection between antibiotic use and human obesity problems. And probiotics and good health.
Most people think of taking probiotics through supplements or fermented foods and drinks. Exercise is now a good way to boost healthy gut bacteria. Diet did play a role in the following study.
Researchers studied fecal and blood samples of 40 professional rugby players, chosen for their extreme diets and exercise as a comparison. Those were compared with samples from 46 healthy men with normal body mass index (BMI) and some of those 46 were chosen for having higher BMI.
They all answered food questions – how much and how often they ate 187 different foods over a four-week period. Their normal levels of physical activity were surveyed.
The athletes had higher levels of creatine kinase, an enzyme indicator for muscle and tissue damage. BUT, they had lower levels of inflammatory markers than the healthy men as well as a better metabolic profile.
Here’s where else the gut bacteria factors in. Athletes had higher levels of several microbial types (taxa). They had significantly higher proportions of 48 taxa than men with high BMI; and of 40 taxa than men with normal BMI. They showed much higher amounts of Akkermansiaceae – a bacteria species linked to having lower rates of obesity and associated metabolic disorders.
Rugby players ate more from all the food groups and protein from meats made a bulk of their diet and 22% more of their energy intake. They also took a lot of protein supplements and had hearty amounts of fruit and vegetables, but fewer snack foods than their counterparts.
Dr. Georgina Hold, of the Institute of Medical Sciences at Aberdeen University believes there has never been a more important time to understand the health of our resident microbiota.
In a linked editorial, she said:
Our findings indicate that exercise is another important factor in the relationship between the microbiota, host immunity and host metabolism, with diet playing an important role.
She pointed out that we are comprised by trillions of bacteria, the whole of which are implicated in many conditions and determine how well we harvest the energy from the foods we eat.
Does this mean I have to take up rugby?
Not unless that’s your thing. But the idea here is that movement matters to your gut. It’s not separate from your “diet,” its a part of it.