(NaturalHealth365) Science has established the importance of an ideal balance of gut bacteria for numerous aspects of health, including ideal digestion and nutrition as well as immune system health. Now, two studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota have found that the simple act of exercise can change the composition of the gut microbiome in positive ways independent of diet.
One of the studies was conducted with mice and the other on humans. However, both showed that the levels of microbes were changed in positive ways by exercise alone.
Exercise NEWS: Clear differences found in gut microbiome of active vs. sedentary subjects
For the mouse study, fecal material from sedentary and exercised mice was put into the colons of sedentary germ-free mice that had been raised in a sterile facility with no microbiota of their own. For the second study, the gut microbiota of human participants was tracked during an active versus a sedentary lifestyle.
In the mouse study, clear differences were found in the gut microbiota of the two groups. The recipients of the exercised mouse microbiota showed a prevalence of more microbes that produce butyrate – which is a key short-chain fatty acid.
Butyrate helps to reduce inflammation, promotes healthy intestinal cells and generates energy for the host. Subjects were also found to be more resistant to the inflammatory bowel disease experimental ulcerative colitis.
Higher butyrate levels linked with lower bowel cancer rates
For the human study, the microbiomes of 14 sedentary obese adults and 18 lean adults were tested. They were then put on an exercise program of 30 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular activity three times per week for 6 weeks.
The subjects’ gut microbiomes were tested again after the 6-week exercise program and again after an additional 6 weeks of sedentary behavior. It should be noted that the subjects ate their usual diets throughout the study.
Fecal concentrations of butyrate and other SCFAs increased as a result of exercise. However, these levels declined again when the subjects returned to a sedentary lifestyle. Genetic tests confirmed the results.
The lean participants with lower microbe counts to begin with saw the most dramatic changes.
These research results show that even previously inactive persons who exercise 30 minutes per day, three times per week, can improve their butyrate levels and gut bacteria – and this is independent of any dietary changes. Higher butyrate levels have been linked with lower rates of bowel cancer, a stronger immune system and an easier time maintaining an ideal weight.
Even more reasons to exercise regularly
No doubt: regular exercise brings a wealth of benefits to the body, mind and spirit. It reduces the risk of heart problems and many forms of dementia – including Alzheimer’s disease.
In addition, exercise can boost emotional well-being and extend the quality of your life. Now, there are even more reasons to exercise regularly: improved gut bacteria composition and a lowered risk of bowel cancer.
Sources for this article include:
Cancer & Heart Disease
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