There is more than 1 000 species of bacteria living in our gut. These microorganisms help to keep you healthy by creating a barrier to prevent infections and harmful substances from the outside world to come into your body through the gastric intestine tract (GIT).
Microbiota also helps with metabolic functions, absorption of nutrients, building and maintaining of the epithelium tissue and supporting the immune system.
If the microbiota in your gut is not in balance it can manifest in GIT diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and metabolic conditions like as type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Microbiota begins to grow from birth and many factors influence the amount and type of bacteria in your gut.
These factors include the surrounding bacteria, food and the temperature of food, the pH of the GIT, hormones, and acid in the GIT, medications used and the immune system(Bull & Plummer, 2014)
It is fascinating to know there is a gut to brain communication system allowing communication between the gut and the brain. The gut microbiota has direct signaling access to the brain. The brain will answer by facilitating certain functions in response. Gut microbiota is thus important to brain function it could even influence.
It is well known that prebiotics, probiotics and a high-fiber diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains have a positive effect on the gut microbes. Lately, exercise was also added to this list as recent studies suggested that exercise could increase the amount of beneficial microbial species in the GIT, which in turn improves your health.
By doing low-intensity exercise you decrease the transient stool time allowing stools to pass quickly through the GIT. The faster stools pass through the gut the less opportunity it gives to harmful bacteria to enter the body or to colonize in the GIT.
A study compared 40 professional rugby players with two controlled groups and found that exercise has a beneficial impact on gut microbiota diversity and the rugby players were less prone to inflammation than the two control groups(Clarke et al., 2014)
Another study done on 36 mice that were fed a normal or high-fat diet for 12- weeks and randomly assigned to exercise or inactive groups also found better gut integrity and more beneficial bacteria in the exercise group.
Specific microbiotas were observed in the exercise group, including Faecalibacterium Prausnitz, Clostridium spp., and Allobaculum spp. These microbes provide protection to the gut by removing harmful 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. Some microbiota produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate, which helps to metabolize more nutrients thus increasing the nutrients availability and provides more energy in the body. SCFAs helps you to eat less by communicating to the brain to release appetite reducing hormones called peptide YY and neurotransmitters to convey the feeling of happiness.
It also helps to keep you healthy by building the immune system. Butyrate makes the mucosal less leaky, allowing less harmful bacteria to enter the body (Monda et al., 2017)
Read More: The Ultimate Guide To Probiotic Supplements
In a third study, 32 sedentary adults(18 lean, 14 obese) were subjected 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 a moderate to high intensity for 3 days/week during the training period and continued with their usual diet.
The results of the study showed more beneficial gut microbiota in the lean group during training. There were more bacteria present that could produce SCFA especially butyrate but the positive effect was reversed after the exercise was stopped.
It is important to have a variety of different microbiota in your GIT and it seems that the importance of gut health is getting more and more acknowledged as an indicator of health and disease. Exercise alone can influence your gut microbiota positively by increasing the number and variety of benefits in your GIT.
Healthy bacteria could easily be incorporated in your system by introducing a colon supplement such as Plexus Bio Cleanse which may flush out the bad bacteria from your body thus increasing good bacteria into your system.