The Love Affair between Your Gym and Your Gut
How does your gut work?
The microbiome is a hot topic in the realm of nutrition and healthy living. A quick overview of gut microbiota: everyone’s gut contains trillions of microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, archaea, viruses, and protozoans, and we have now discovered that these fun little creatures may work in different ways to affect:
Luckily, most of our gut bacteria are good bacteria that work with our intestinal cells to aide in the processes and pathways listed above. It is also widely known that the more diversity in strains of bacteria, and a more diverse microbiota in general, is better for overall health.
How can you help your gut?
Some of us may already be aware of one outside factor that affects our gut – food. You may have already heard that you should be consuming foods that contain probiotics and prebiotics, such as yogurt, kimchi, kefir, fibrous vegetables, etc. While the foods we eat certainly have a huge impact on our gut health, the workouts we do may also be contributing to the microbiota goodness.
The relationship between physical activity and gut microbiota is still a new topic with much more research needed. However, the research that exists shows that an increase in physical activity may have a positive impact on your gut health.
A combination of rodent and human studies has shown the following beneficial outcomes:
- Increased diversity in the microbiome
- Improving the bacterial ratio
- Increased microbial diversity in human stool
How can you improve your workout?
While your gym routine is helping improve your gut health, your gut bacteria are also affecting your exercise capabilities. Research is showing that physical activity can be improved with a healthy gut, as microbiota aide in water, hormone, and nutrient delivery during exercise. The science is not yet conclusive on how or if exercise alone affects our microbiome, but it does show that physical activity may have beneficial effects on gut health.
We also know that physical activity rewards our bodies in many other ways, such as decreasing anxiety, improving cardiovascular health, sleep, weight, and much more. So treating your gut right by consuming foods high in pro and prebiotics, exercising, and reducing stress can improve your gut microbiota, which in turn helps reduce stress, improve chronic illness, and aid in your daily workout routine.
It’s a win-win!