Exercise may promote gut microbiota diversity, according to the results of a study published online on June 9, 2014, in Gut
Researchers of the study analyzed the gut microbiota of 40 professional rugby players in Ireland and compared them with a group of controls to determine the impact of exercise and diet on gut bugs. Participants also completed detailed food frequency questionnaires.
The results indicated that plasma creatinine kinase and inflammatory metabolic markers were significantly different among athletes and controls. Athletes had less inflammation and better metabolism compared with controls. In addition, athletes had a significantly higher diversity of gut microorganisms; athletes had 22 phyla, 68 families, and 113 genera compared with 11 phyla, 33 families, and 65 genera among controls with a low body mass index (BMI). Athletes also consumed much more protein, with protein accounting for 22% of their total caloric intake, compared with 16% for low-BMI and 15% for high-BMI controls. High protein intake and high levels of creatinine kinase were both positively correlated with bacterial diversity.
“[E]xercise seems to be another important factor in the relationship between the microbiota, host immunity, and host metabolism, with diet playing an important role,” the study authors concluded.