Whether you’re striving for that six pack or just trying to lose a few pounds, an added benefit of exercise may be that it increases the diversity of the good microbes in your body. What is referred to by some as the “microbiome,” is a term for the ecosystem of microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses) that work symbiotically with the human body to help it function. Theories backed by solid research are showing that the healthier and more diverse your microbiome is, the healthier you will be.
In reference to a question about how exercise can benefit the microbiome, Dr. Weil this week in his Q&A blog cites an Irish study on rugby players that showed these athletes had a more diverse microbiome than their non-athlete control group. The researchers believe this was due to the rugby players’ heavy amount of exercise and relatively high protein diet. Further analysis of the athletes’ microbiomes revealed that there were further benefits. Dr. Weil explains that though the research did not prove a direct causal link, it’s pretty safe to assume that exercise is not hurting your microbiotic friends:
In addition to the broader diversity of the athletes' microbiomes, the researchers reported that among the microbes seen were a species of bacteria associated with lower rates of obesity and obesity-related disorders. The study didn't determine whether exercise or protein or both were responsible for the greater diversity. That remains to be explored by future studies, but I suspect we'll soon be hearing a lot about what we can do to help promote the health and diversity of our individual microbiomes."
In the meantime, if you're exercising regularly, this study suggests that you are contributing in a positive way to your microbial health. Keep at it.
Read the full article to learn more about the study and read Dr. Weil’s excellent description of the microbiome.
- Exercise for a Better Microbiome? via Dr. Weil
Read all articles by Juniper Briggs