Can Exercise Promote Diversity of Gut Bacteria?

Much research has gone into showing a direct relation ship between gut bacteria and your immune system. The more bacteria, the better.In this article, excerpts below, Dr. Mercola expands on this relationship.  Click here to read the entire article.

Gut health is a foundational key for optimal health and wellbeing; from dictating the function of your immune system and psychological processing, to influencing your weight and a wide variety of other health factors.

Beneficial bacteria in your gut control the growth of disease-causing bacteria by competing for nutrition and attachment sites in your colon. This is of immense importance, as pathogenic bacteria and other less beneficial microbes can wreak havoc on your health if they gain the upper hand.

Two things are clear:

  1. Sufficient amounts of friendly bacteria are fundamental to your good health. It’s impossible to be optimally healthy if your gut’s bacterial balance is out of whack. Two primary aids in optimizing your gut health are: a primarily organic, whole food diet, fermented foods, and intense exercise.
  2. Your lifestyle – such as a diet full of processed foods, lack of exercise, medications, the antibacterial cleansers you use, and other factors outside your control – are working together to compromise the number of lifesaving friendly bacteria in your digestive system.

As recently reported by news outlets such as,1 The New York Times,2and Time Magazine,3 Irish researchers have found that exercise—especially in combination with a protein-rich diet—increases the amount and diversity of gut bacteria, which may have immune boosting effects.4

Compared to controls, athletes (in this case rugby players) were found to have ahigher diversity of gut micro-organisms… which in turn positively correlated with protein consumption and creatine kinase,” the authors note.

Maintaining a good balance of gut bacteria through diet is one of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of remaining healthy and vital for a lifetime. Remember, a gut-healthy diet is one that is rich in whole, unprocessed, unsweetened foods, along with traditionally fermented or cultured foods. And, although I’m not a major proponent of taking many supplements (as I believe the majority of your nutrients need to come from food), probiotics is an exception if you don’t eat fermented foods on a regular basis.

A strong case can be made for eating organic to protect your gut flora as agricultural chemicals take a heavy toll on beneficial microbes—both in the soil in which the food is grown, and in your body. Glyphosate (Roundup), used in particularly hefty amounts on genetically engineered crops, appears to be among the worst of the most widely used chemicals in food production. As for general lifestyle advice, you’ll also want to avoid well-known culprits that kill beneficial bacteria, such as:

  • Antibiotics (also note that most store-bought beef typically comes from cattle raised with antibiotics. To avoid getting a low dose of antibiotics in every piece of meat you eat, make sure your meat is grass-fed and finished)
  • Chlorinated water
  • Antibacterial soap
  • Pollution

Gut health is a foundational key for optimal health and wellbeing; from dictating the function of your immune system and psychological processing, to influencing your weight.

Researchers have found that athletes, who exercise intensely for prolonged periods and eat a high-protein diet, have greater diversity of gut bacteria, which may have immune boosting effects.

One particular species of bacteria found in greater amounts in the athletes’ gut has been linked to reduced risk of obesity and systemic inflammation.

In addition to eating an overall more varied diet, including more fruits and vegetables, than the controls, protein accounted for 22 percent of the athletes’ energy intake, compared to 15-16 percent for controls.

Previous research has shown that average people (non-athletes) who eat a high-protein diet tend to have far less diversity of gut bacteria compared to those who eat less meat

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