The human gut is home to trillions of microorganisms and a healthy gut microbiota is key to a smooth digestion process. While we know that what we eat affects the microbes that live in our intestine, two new studies (one in mice and another in humans) have proved that what activity we do also has the same impact on our gut microbiota.
In both the experiments, researchers found that exercise alters the gut microbiota in such a way that it increases the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that are advantageous for human health. In the first study, researchers took fecal material from exercised and sedentary mice and fed it into the colons of sedentary germ-free mice which had no microbiota on their own. After transplant, the germ-free mice developed gut microbiota similar to that of the donor group, in fact had higher levels that produced an SCFA called butyrate (helps to reduce inflammation and promote gut health).
The second study focused on the composition of gut microbiota in humans as they switched over from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one. The study included 18 lean and 14 obese sedentary adults who had their gut microbiota sampled and then started on an exercise program for 30-60 minutes thrice a week for six weeks. The gut microbiota was sampled at the end of the program and then again after six weeks of sedentary lifestyle. SCFA levels went up in the human gut soon after exercising and declined when the participants went back to their sedentary lifestyle along with their regular diet. Lean participants had a greater increase in SCFA levels compared to the obese individuals. These SCFAs also help to fight insulin resistance and elevate metabolism levels in our body. The gut microbiome also differed between the lean and obese participants at the end of every stage of study and researchers felt that further research is needed in this area.
This result shows that surprisingly, exercise has a positive effect on even those parts of the body that are not involved in the workout. Our guts contain a small world of bacteria by themselves and the microbes are involved in all activities ranging from weight control, inflammation, immune responses and other health-related activities. If you would like to know more about the gut bacteria, its effects on human body and the foods that are said to promote the good bacteria in our body, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com. The above study is even more inspiring as it motivates us to involve ourselves in physical activity every day and who knows, such exercising could even help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.