Physical Fitness Tied to Increased Microbiome Diversity

Reduced microbial diversity in the gut has been linked to various diseases such as diabetes, autoimmune, colorectal cancer, and inflammatory bowel disease, just to name a few. Researchers are also making connections to many mental health issues as a result of dysbiosis.

Results from a recently published Canadian study show that increased physical fitness is responsible for as much as 20% of the microbial diversity in the human GI tract.

“…cardiorespiratory fitness is correlated with increased microbial diversity in healthy humans and that the associated changes are anchored around a set of functional cores rather than specific taxa. The microbial profiles of fit individuals favor the production of butyrate. As increased microbiota diversity and butyrate production is associated with overall host health, our findings warrant the use of exercise prescription as an adjuvant therapy in combating dysbiosis-associated diseases.”

Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid and powerful anti-inflammatory produced by beneficial gut bacteria. Butyrate has been studied extensively due to its potential for treatments ranging from insulin resistance/diabetes/obesity to various forms of cancer and regulation of the immune system.

This is the second recent study to look at the connection between cardiovascular health and our gut microbiota; a prior Irish study showed similar results but didn’t isolate diet as a confounding factor. For this study, University of British Columbia researchers went to the extra effort to ensure dietary differences among the subjects were accounted for.

So, is exercise part of your Dr’s prescription? Like the commercial says, “Ask your doctor what exercise can do for you!”