Among professional athletes, training associated with dietary proteins would stimulate the diversity of the intestinal flora.
For a healthy and diversified intestinal flora, it would be better exercising than eating yoghurts with active bifidus. According to an Irish study, sports associated with a large consumption of proteins would promote the bacterial diversity of the intestinal flora.
Intestinal flora plays an important role in digestion, but also immunity. An intestinal flora whose diversity is reduced is associated with obesity and health problems. On the other hand, a diversity of the bacterial species present in the intestinal flora is linked to favorable metabolic profiles and a better immune response.
To learn about the impact of physical exercise on the intestinal flora, researchers have been interested in professional rugby players. Indeed, the lifestyle could influence the composition of the intestinal flora. The fecal and blood samples of 40 professional players who participated in an intense training program were compared with those of 46 healthy men. The witnesses were not professional athletes but their ages and sizes matched those of the players. All participants filled out food questionnaires and answered questions about their physical activity.
The researchers have dosed the level of creatine kinase in the blood, an enzyme marker of muscle damage and therefore is proof of an extreme exercise. Athletes had high amounts of creatine kinase but levels of markers of low inflammation. The diversity of their intestinal flora was greater, with a number of different bacterial types more important. For example, athletes had more akkermansiaceae, bacteria associated with low rates of obesity and metabolic disorders.
Overall, rugby players ate larger amounts of all types of food. But proteins accounted for 22% of their energy intake compared to 15-16% for the control group. This was explained by the consumption of meat and meat products but also of protein dietary supplements. The athletes also ate more fruits and vegetables.
For the authors, these results show that exercise, in addition to diet, is an important factor in the microbial diversity of the intestinal flora.
F. Clarke, E. F. Murphy, O. O’Sullivan, A. J. Lucey, M. Humphreys, A. Hogan, P. Hayes, M. O’Reilly, I. B. Jeffery, R. Wood-Martin, D. M. Kerins, E. Quigley, R. P. Ross, P. W. O’Toole, M. G. Molloy, E. Falvey, F. Shanahan, P. D. Cotter. Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity. Gut, 2014; DOI: 10.1136/gutjnl-2013-306541