Well who knew that going for your daily run or gym session might actually be a tool for better gut health. Today we look at a study which demonstrates this phenomenon! Welcome to The Broccoli Roast.

You guys know that I’ve been banging on about the link between positive exercise habits & good gut health. The two have been, so far in observational studies, commonly seen in a seemingly congruent relationship. More active people had healthier microbiomes.

But taking this theory a step further, a new study has actually used exercise as an interventional stimulus to see whether it actually induced positive changes to gut bacteria. Essentially looking at the idea that exercise may actually cause increases in beneficial gut microbes within the digestive tract.

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In order to do this, researchers took thirty two lean & obese people who were living a sedentary lifestyle and hadn’t been exposed to antibiotics for 3 months prior and subjected them to six weeks of supervised, endurance based exercise training on a program of 3x per week – somewhat moderate if you ask me. The intensity of the training increased over time.

Before the program ensued, after the six weeks, and then six weeks later after returning to a sedentary lifestyle, the subjects, in the name science, donated their poo for testing to see whether or not they had experienced changes in their gut microbiome. Now, importantly, the subjects had dietary controls in place prior to each collection to rule out, as much as possible, the affect of diet on the test results.

Incredibly, the analysis of the participants’ stool samples revealed that yes indeed exercise seemed to induce positive changes in gut bacteria in, and get this, only the lean individuals, not the obese. The researchers found increases in short chain fatty acids, a sign of beneficial microbe metabolism, in the stool analysis of lean individuals on the exercise program whilst in the obese samples they did not find any increases in those same metabolic products.

The researchers also noted “Exercise-induced shifts in metabolic output of the microbiota paralleled changes in bacterial genes and taxa capable of SCFA production.” which is science jargon for the results showed an increased potential output, and increased output, of these short chain fatty acids by the microbiome.

What was interesting to note is that the exercise-induced changes in the microbiota were quote “largely reversed once exercise training ceased.” Meaning that only when exercise is sustained and maintained as part of your routine does it contribute to gut health which is not surprising considering what we know of the gut microbiome and how quickly it adapts and changes to new stimuli such as diet, and of course now exercise as well.

Do you guys exercise? What sort of exercise do you do? Let me know in the comments below or on socials and I also want to know if you think exercise is enough to look after your gut health on its own….

My guest today is Steph Lowe, a nutritionist specialising in athletic performance and with a strong emphasis on gut health. We discussed the study and Steph pointed out the obvious shortcomings of such an investigation, largely, centred around the fact that there were not enough controls in place to actually get high quality results. This is one of the biggest shortcomings of studying diet in general, and that is the fact that you can’t bottle up 100 people into a building for 6 weeks and control their stress levels, what they’re exposed to chemically and also dietarily. So, long story short, everybody agrees exercise is great for you – whether it truly impacts gut health. We’ll have to wait & see. My personal theory on this is that the lactic acid produced during exercise may actually nourish the lactic acid loving microbes in the gut – and I’m still waiting for someone to test this theory out. Until then, though.

Here’s a conversation that Steph & I had regarding fat adaptation & performance, gut health & more. This conversation is from my Gut Healing Summit, now called The Gut Healing Series online course which you can join at a very special price over at the online courses link at kalebrock.com.au/reallyinteresting – enjoy!

Thanks so much for tuning in guys be sure to subscribe to the channel on YouTube or your favourite podcasting platform & let me know in the comments below what else you’d like to see on the show – if you’ve got any opinions on today’s episode please be cordial and respectful and allow others to share theirs, too.

This episode was brought to you by Nice Life, The Gut Health Store, bringing Australians the greatest gut health supplements from around the world.


Resources for this episode 

Perlmutter, D. (2018). Exercise Alters Gut Microbiota Composition and Function in Lean and Obese Humans. [online] David Perlmutter M.D. Available at: https://www.drperlmutter.com/study/exercise-alters-gut-microbiota-composition-and-function-in-lean-and-obese-humans/.

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