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Of mice and guts (and exercise performance)

Effects of intestinal microbiota on exercise performance in mice.

Study under review: Effect of Intestinal Microbiota on Exercise Performance in Mice

Introduction

Scientists already know exercise causes oxidative stress in athletes. If oxidative stress is chronic and unchecked, it may lead to premature fatigue and a decreased rate of recovery[1]. Otherwise, oxidative stress from exercise is involved in adaptation and muscle growth. The body has enzyme systems in place to keep excessive oxidative stress in check. The study under review uses mouse models to determine if gut bacteria influence exercise performance, and whether or not it can be concurrently linked with antioxidant protein status.

The microbiome is defined as the population of microorganisms in an environment. Humans have an incredibly large variety of microorganisms living in communities in our gut, on our skin, among our nether regions , and on other parts of our bodies. Bacteria may be the most talked-about residents of the hot new microbiome neighborhood, but other major classes of microorganisms such as fungi and archaea also reside there, and may also help explain links between diet and health.

The extensive health effects of the human microbiome only came to light in the 1990s, and as a result intestinal microbiota have become a popular topic of research in recent years. Links have been established between gut microbes and many diseases[2], including psychological conditions. The bacteria in our guts have an interesting symbiotic relationship with us. Gut bacteria make vitamins and send signals to our immune system, and are critical to the production of neurochemicals such as serotonin[3].

Previous evidence suggests there is a connection between our gut microbiome and our health, so the researchers set out to determine if gut bacteria could influence exercise performance. If such a link exists, it would set the stage for research investigating whether it is possible to manipulate the gut microbiome for ergogenic benefit.

Who and what was studied?

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The big picture

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Other Articles in Issue #02 (December 2014)