A study has shown that the endurance and motivation of athletes can be adversely impacted by the destruction of crucial gut bacteria from antibiotic use.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
The study in mice indicates that the microbiome is a significant factor in the performance of athletes. Although the study was in mice, their physiology is much like humans.
Other research has looked at how the microbiome is affected by exercise, but this study looked at how voluntary exercise behaviors are affected by gut bacteria. Voluntary exercise requires both athletic ability and motivation.
The researchers theorized that the microbiome, or gut bacteria, of an animal would influence digestive processes and function of muscle, as well as motivation for various behaviors such as exercise. The results of the study reinforce the theory.
Making use of fecal samples, it was established that gut bacteria were reduced in 2 groups of mice after 10 days of antibiotic use, a group selectively bred for high levels of running, and a group that wasn’t.
Neither group displayed any signs of sickness behavior from the antibiotic treatment. The researchers were sure the microbiome damage was responsible for the 21% reduction in wheel running performance in the athletic mice. The running behavior of high runner mice was also not recovered even 12 days after ending the antibiotic treatment.
The normal mice behavior wasn’t significantly affected either throughout or after the treatment.
A minor injured casual exerciser wouldn’t be affected much, according to the researchers, but a small setback can be a lot more amplified in a world-class athlete. That’s why the researchers wanted to compare the 2 types of mice. Compromising the normal gut microbiome could be compared to an injury.
One way that exercise could be influenced by the microbiome is by being able to change carbohydrates into chemicals that traverse the body and impact muscle performance.
Metabolic end products from gut bacteria can be reabsorbed and utilized as fuel. Less good bacteria would mean a lesser amount of available fuel.
Insufficient exercise is regarded as a significant risk factor for aspects of mental health such as depression, and also physical health such as osteoporosis, cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Some foods can also increase advantageous gut bacteria. We do know from prior research that the high-fat and high-sugar western diet can negatively affect gut biodiversity and probably, by extension, athletic ability and potentially even exercise motivation.
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