Reference Number: 191
Objective: The commensal microbiota, host immunity and metabolism participate in a signalling network, with diet in fluencing each component of this triad. In addition to diet, many elements of a modern lifestyle in fluence the gut microbiota but the degree to which exercise affects this population is unclear. Therefore, we explored exercise and diet for their impact on the gut microbiota.
Design: Since extremes of exercise often accompany extremes of diet, we addressed the issue by studying professional athletes from an international rugby union squad. Two groups were included to control for physical size, age and gender. Compositional analysis of the microbiota was explored by 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing. Each participant completed a detailed food frequency questionnaire.
Results: As expected, athletes and controls differed significantly with respect to plasma creatine kinase (a marker of extreme exercise), and inflammatory and metabolic markers. More importantly, athletes had a higher diversity of gut micro-organisms, representing 22 distinct phyla, which in turn positively correlated with protein consumption and creatine kinase.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
An altered gut microbiota composition has been associated with a number of diseases and syndromes, including obesity. The loss of gut microbiota diversity has been linked to an increasing number of conditions such as autism, GI diseases and obesity to name a few. Research has shown that the abundance of a bacterial species called Akkermansia muciniphilla has been shown to inversely correlate with obesity and associated disorders. The current study is the first to report that exercise improves gut microbial diversity in humans. The study looked at the gut microbiome profiles of professional rugby players and healthy male controls. In addition to recording their physical activity, dietary intakes were also recorded as part of the study. The study reported two interesting findings.
HOW DO WE INTERPRET AND USE THIS INFORMATION?
All bakers should take up rugby! …Well maybe not, but this study suggests that exercise is associated with higher levels of gut microbial diversity which, in turn, has been linked to beneficial health effects.