Emerging evidence has shown an association between intestinal microbiota composition and physical activity among athletes.
DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences has published a research study evaluating clinical evidence on the interaction between gut microbiota and physical activity, and examining the effects of probiotic supplementation in athletes. The research, which appeared in a recent edition of the Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) journal, adds to DuPont’s efforts in studying the health benefits of the human microbiome.
Nutritional habits of athletes have been a widely researched topic, especially in the areas of training, performance and post-exercise recovery. However, the role of intestinal microbiota in physical performance is less understood. This new review evaluates existing clinical evidence on the topic, and examines the relationship between gut bacteria and athlete health. Furthermore, it evaluates the mechanisms of action through which probiotic supplementation may affect exercise outcomes.
This review underlines that athlete gut microbiota is associated with increased microbial diversity, and that physical exercise promotes beneficial changes in the gut microbiota composition even in people who are sedentary. Evidence from pre-clinical studies indicate that exercise capacity can be impacted by modulations in the gut microbiota composition, and that the mechanisms of action are linked to what can be called the gut-muscle axis.
The authors summarise that probiotics have strain-specific potential to reduce gastrointestinal and respiratory tract symptoms and infections, helping athletes to train and compete healthily. Probiotics can also support athletic performance by enhancing training adaptations, and have beneficial effects on physiological responses during post-exercise recovery periods.
Dr Maija Marttinen, lead author of the research and scientist at DuPont Nutrition & Biosciences, explained: “Our gut bacteria play key role in our overall health. It’s not surprising then, that it would also play a role in determining our physical ability. What is so exciting about this field of research is that with the growing number of published studies, we are able to delve deeper into the existing evidence and evaluate exactly what is happening in terms of gut bacteria and athletic performance.”