There is more than 1 000 species ofbacteria living in our gut. These microorganisms help to keep you healthy bycreating a barrier to prevent infections and harmful substances from theoutside world to come into your body through the gastric intestine tract (GIT).Microbiota also helps with metabolism, absorption of nutrients, building andmaintaining of the epithelium and supporting the immune system. If themicrobiota in your gut is not in balance it can manifest in GIT diseases suchas Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and metabolicconditions such as type 2 diabetes and obesity are associated with imbalancedgut microbe. Microbiota begins to grow at birth anda number of factors will influence the amount and type of bacteria in your gut. These factors include the surroundingbacteria, food and the temperature of food, the pH of the GIT, hormones andacid in the GIT, medications used and the immune system (Bull & Plummer, 2014) It is fascinating to know there isa gut to brain communicationsystem allowing communication between the gut and the brain. The gut microbiotahas direct signaling access to the brain.
The brain will answer by facilitatingcertain functions in response. Gut microbiota is thus important to brainfunction it could even influence anxiety and depression. It is well known that prebiotics, probioticsand a high-fiber diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains havea positive effect on the gut microbes. Lately exercise was also added to thislist as recent studies suggestedthat exercise could increase the amount of beneficial microbial species in theGIT, which in turn improves human health.
By doing low intensity exercise you decrease the transientstool time allowing stools to pass quicker through the GIT. The faster stoolspass through the gut the less opportunity it gives to harmful bacteria to enterthe body or to colonize in the GIT. By doing regular exercise you will have alower risk for colon cancer, diverticulosis, and IBD. Exercise may reduceinflammation and ensure keep the intestine in good condition (Monda et al.,2017).
A study done on 40 elite, professional rugby players found exercisehas a beneficial impact on gut microbiota diversity and the rugby players wereless prone to inflammatory than the two control groups (Clarke et al., 2014) Another study done on36 mice that were fed a normal or high-fat diet for 12- weeks and randomlyassigned to exercise or inactive groups also found better gut integrity andmore beneficial bacteria in theexercise group. Specificmicrobiota were observed in the exercise group, including Faecalibacteriumprausnitzi, Clostridium spp., and Allobaculum spp. These microbes provide protection to the gut by removingharmful bacteria.
The good microbiota in the exercising mice produced more butyrate,which helped to promote a healthy digestive tract. (Campbell et al., 2016) The microbiota helps with metabolic functions. Somemicrobiota produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate, which increasethe nutrients availability and provide more energy in the body. SCFAs helps you to eat less by communicatingto the brain to release appetite reducing hormones called peptide YY and neurotransmittersto convey the feeling of happiness.
It also helps to keep you healthy bybuilding the immune system. Butyrate makes the mucosal less leaky, allowing lessharmful bacteria to enter the body (Monda et al.,2017) In a third study, 32 sedentary adults (18 lean, 14 obese) weresubjected to 6 weeks of training followed by a 6-week period of inactivity (Allen et al.,2017). The participants trained for 30-60 minutes at moderate tohigh intensity for 3 days/week during the training period and continued withtheir usual diet. The results of the study showed more beneficial gutmicrobiota in the lean group during training. There was more SCFA especiallybutyrate present but the positive effect was reversed after the exercise wasstopped.
It is important tohave a variety of different microbiota in your GIT and it seems that gut healthis getting more and more important as indicator of health and disease. Exercisealone has shown to increasethe amount of beneficial microbial species, improve the microflora diversity,and improve the development of good bacteria.