With a ratio of 10 bacteria cells to every 1 human cell it’s fair to say that anything that affects us also has an effect on the bacteria that live inside us. So when we think about how regular exercise causes good changes in the body, we can also be sure that it’s having a positive influence on our gut bacteria.
Researchers from the University College Cork in Ireland carried out a test on the gut microbes of 40 professional rugby players, and concluded that their gut microbes were significantly more diverse than the microbes of the two control groups of normal people.
What they found were the rugby players had more bacteria associated with protein consumption, better metabolic profiles and even showed fewer inflammatory markers. Inflammation of the gut tends to be found where there is little microbe diversity and this inflammation is a key factor in illnesses such as IBS and Crohn’s disease.
Although more research is still underway, scientists have already discovered a link between gut diversity and our health. Exercise does a lot more for us than improving our ability to run around without getting puffed out. It boosts our immune system, helps to regulate hormones, improves our response to stress and lowers inflammation. And the gut – and the bacteria living there – benefit from all of these things.
But we don’t have to rush out and become professional athletes to improve our gut diversity. A healthy diet and regular exercise will help to populate the gut with good bacteria, and therefore lower our risk of gut and mood disorders.