Eat less; move more; live longer. I have been preaching that for the nearly nine-year life of this blog. There are lots of ways that exercise benefits our brains as well as our bodies which I hope will protect me from cognitive damage as I age. When it comes to the trillions of microbes in my gut, however, I confess to pretty much total ignorance. They are there. They do their jobs. We get along fine.
A recent issue of the New York Times, however, had Gretchen Reynolds writing about exercise benefiting our gut microbes in some very interesting ways. Here is a link to the article if you would like to read the full details.
Below is a quote of several paragraphs which I found meaningful.
“Most of these changes were not shared from one person to the next. Everyone’s gut responded uniquely to exercise.
“But there were some similarities, the researchers found. In particular, they noted widespread increases in certain microbes that can help to produce substances called short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids are believed to aid in reducing inflammation in the gut and the rest of the body. They also work to fight insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, and otherwise bolster our metabolisms.
“Most of the volunteers had larger concentrations of these short-chain fatty acids in their intestines after exercise, along with the microbes that produce them.
“These increases were greatest, though, among the volunteers who had begun the experiment lean compared to those who were obese, the scientists found.
And perhaps not surprisingly, almost all of the changes in people’s guts dissipated after six weeks of not exercising. By and large, their microbiomes reverted to what they had been at the study’s start. (my emphasis)
“Still, the study’s overall results suggest that even a few weeks of exercise can alter the makeup and function of people’s microbiomes, says Jeffrey Woods, a professor of kinesiology and community health at the University of Illinois who conducted the study, along with his doctoral student Jacob Allen (now a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State University) and others.”