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A good workout changes your gut bug makeup, say new studies

A good workout changes your gut bug makeup, say new studies

The first trial, conducted in mice, appears in Gut Microbes, ​while the subsequent human study is published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

Exercise-induced gut flora composition changes in mice were subsequently replicated in humans, found the research team from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana.

The team used the mouse study to test the hypothesis that exercise could modify the gut bacteria profile, even when dietary intake remained unchanged.

Germ-free mice given faecal transplants from other mice who had undergone exercise, showed significant differences in gut bacteria composition, metabolic parameters, colon inflammation and weight compared with controls (sedentary mice).

“That proved to us that the transplant worked,”​ said co-lead researcher Professor Jeffrey Woods.

Additionally, exercise-trained mice showed reduced symptoms of chemically-induced colitis compared with the inactive controls.

“We found that the animals that received the exercised microbiota had an attenuated response to a colitis-inducing chemical​. There was a reduction in inflammation and an increase in the regenerative molecules that promote a faster recovery,” ​commented Dr. Jacob Allen who led the studies together with Woods.

Allen is now a postdoctoral researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Applicable in humans too

Having validated the hypothesis that exercise modifies the gut microbiome in mice, the researchers went on to see if the same effect was applicable in humans.

After six weeks of progressively more intense cardiovascular exercise, participants showed an increase in diversity of gut bacteria, and faecal concentrations of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), particularly butyrate.