How to boost gut health through exercise

Credit: Unsplash+

Exercise is widely recognized for its myriad benefits, including strengthening muscles, enhancing bone density, warding off diseases, and even extending life expectancy.

But there’s another lesser-known advantage: exercise can significantly alter the composition and function of the trillions of microbes residing in our gut.

The gut microbiome, consisting of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms, is crucial for overall health. It aids in digesting food, absorbing nutrients, and protecting against pathogens. A diverse and balanced gut microbiome is essential for optimal health.

Various factors, including diet, stress, medications, and lifestyle choices, influence the gut microbiome. Recent research, especially a study from the University of Calgary, has highlighted the impact of exercise on the gut microbiota of non-athletes.

The study explored how different exercise variables—type, duration, and intensity—affect the gut microbiome in middle-aged adults.

Participants in the study provided detailed information about their physical activity, body weight, diet, and strength.

The findings revealed that moderate physical activity, defined as 150 minutes per week or more, significantly enhanced the richness and diversity of the gut microbiome compared to less active participants.

This aligns with Health Canada’s recommendation for physical activity and underscores the importance of regular exercise for gut health.

Interestingly, the study also examined the intensity of exercise and concluded that the duration of physical activity mattered more than the intensity in fostering a healthy gut microbiome.

However, the beneficial effects of exercise on the microbiome were more pronounced in individuals of normal weight than those who were overweight.

This suggests that the negative impact of being overweight on the gut microbiome might diminish some of the positive effects of exercise.

In conclusion, the study, led by Shrushti Shah and published in The FASEB Journal, reinforces the notion that while exercise is crucial for a healthy gut microbiome, maintaining a healthy weight and diet is equally important. Here are several strategies to improve gut health:

  1. Eat a Balanced Diet: Incorporating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can support beneficial gut bacteria.
  2. Include Prebiotic and Probiotic Foods: Foods rich in prebiotics (e.g., onions, garlic, bananas) and probiotics (e.g., yogurt, kefir) can promote gut health.
  3. Stay Hydrated: Adequate water intake helps maintain smooth digestive functions and prevent constipation.
  4. Reduce Stress: High stress can upset gut balance. Activities like yoga and meditation can help manage stress and support gut health.
  5. Get Adequate Sleep: Proper sleep is essential for many bodily functions, including digestion.
  6. Avoid Processed Foods: These can be detrimental to gut health due to their low fiber and high unhealthy fat and sugar content.

By following these guidelines, you can support your gut microbiome and enhance your overall health.

If you care about gut health, please read studies about how junk food harms your gut health,  and how probiotics can protect gut health.

For more information about gut health, please see recent studies about the crucial link between diet, gut health, and the immune system and results showing that Low-gluten, high-fiber diets boost gut health and weight loss.

Copyright © 2024 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.