Sports nutritionist Dr. Stacy Sims explains the far-reaching impact of gut health
There has been a lot of robust literature examining the effects of gut bacteria on our general health and wellbeing, mood, and even athletic performance. Our gut bacteria produce metabolites from the food that we eat and—in turn—go on to impact many of the hormonal responses that happen within our bodies. The variation of the bacteria that comprise our gut can modulate what’s happening to our central nervous system, our immune system, how we respond and adapt to training, and of course, our mood.
Two major groups, Bacteroides and Firmicutes, make up most of the human gut microbiome and are the two that are most directly involved with body composition and inflammation. Most studies have shown that the more Bacteroidetes you have (compared to your Firmicutes), the leaner you will be and the less issues you will have with inflammation. We can alter the ratios to some extent by the foods we eat and the exercise we do, but by the time we reach the age of three our gut microbiome is largely determined (due to environment, type of birth, breastfeeding, and genetics). We also know that the more diverse the gut microbiome is, then the leaner individuals are and the more stable their autonomic nervous system is (e.g. heart rate variability, digestion).
Part of the benefit of moderate exercise is increasing that diversity of bacteria. When you’re exercising on a regular basis and reducing the oxygen and increasing the heat that goes to the gut, you are creating an environment that allows some bacteria to grow and stunts the growth of others. ..;
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