A recent study conducted by British researchers shows that exercise can increase the diversity of bacteria found in the gut which could possibly improve the immune system and increase long-term health. The study, which was published in the June 9th issue of the journal Gut, as showed that high levels of dietary protein could have the same effect.
The study examined the blood and stool samples of 40 professional rugby players who were following a rigorous training program. The researchers explained that the athletes were chose for the study because intense exercise regimens are usually associated with extreme diets. The researchers used the blood and stool samples that they collected from the athletes to examine the variety of bacteria in the players’ guts. The athletes’ samples were then comparted to samples collected from 46 similar men who were healthy, but not athletes. Half of these men had a normal BMI, and the rest had a higher-than-normal BMI.
All of the participants answered questions about 187 types of food, including how much of them they ate in the past four week and how often. The men were also asked about their usual levels of physical activity.
Study results showed that the athletes had higher levels of a specific enzyme that signals muscle or tissue damage. They also had lower levels of inflammatory markers and a better metabolic profile when compared to the men in the “non-athlete” control group. The athletes also had a greater diversity in their gut bacteria than the other men.