We all know that regular exercise (and healthy eating) will cause you to have a tight tummy, but new research revealed that exercise also promotes a healthy gut.
They study by researchers at University Cork in Ireland that was published June 9 in the journal Gut found that exercise could increase the diversity of bacteria in your stomach that could boost your immune system and improve overall health.
“The article is the first report that exercise increases gut microbiota richness/diversity and highlights that exercise is another important factor in the complex relationship among the host, host immunity and the microbiota,” Georgina L. Hold, PhD, from the Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, writes in an accompanying commentary.
Researchers studied blood and stool samples to see the variety of bacteria in the stomachs of 40 professional rugby players that were partaking in an intense training program. These samples were then compared to 46 men who were not athletes, but were healthy. Half of these non-athlete men had healthy BMIs, while the other half had slighter higher than normal BMIs.
All the men had to answer questions that including what and how often they ate certain foods from a list of 187 types of foods and their physical levels of exercise.
The results did not prove that the athletic rugby players were healthier, but it did show they had had higher levels of an enzyme that signals muscle damage and had lower levels of inflammation and better metabolism than that other 46 men in the control group. The ruby players had more types of bacteria in their stomach, such as a specific kind that is linked to lower rates of obesity and obesity-related diseases.
“Our findings indicate that exercise is another important factor in the relationship between the microbiota, host immunity and host metabolism, with diet playing an important role,” the study authors wrote in a news release.
The study also found dietary protein might have the same effect.
“Understanding the complex relationship among what we choose to eat, activity levels and gut microbiota richness is essential,” Dr. Georgina Hold, of the Institute of Medical Sciences at Aberdeen University in Scotland, also said in the news release.