"Athletes had a significantly wider range of gut microbiota than men in the comparison group, particularly those with a high BMI."
London, June 10 - What have gut microbes got to do with hitting the gym or jogging in the park? A lot, says a new research, adding that daily exercise plays a key role in maintaining the diversity of gut bacteria.
It is important to have an increased diversity of gut bacteria for a better metabolic profile and immune system response.
Reduced variation in gut microbes has been linked to obesity and other health problems.
Our findings indicate that exercise is another important factor in the relationship between the microbiota, host immunity and host metabolism, with diet playing an important role, researchers said.
Georgina Hold from the Institute of Medical Sciences at Aberdeen University in Scotland said: Our guts are colonised by trillions of bacteria, the composition of which has been implicated in many conditions and is known to determine how well we harvest the energy from the foods we eat.
During the study, the researchers analysed faecal and blood samples from 40 professional rugby players in the midst of a rigorous training programme.
Their samples were compared with the same samples taken from 46 healthy men who were not professional athletes, but who matched the physical size and age of the players.
Half of the comparison group had a normal body mass index (BMI) of 25 or less while half had a high BMI of 28 or more.
The research found athletes to have a better metabolic profile than the men with a high BMI in the comparison group.
Athletes had a significantly wider range of gut microbiota than men in the comparison group, particularly those with a high BMI.
On the diet part, athletes took a lot of protein supplements, they ate far more fruit and vegetables and had far fewer snacks than their counterparts, the study concluded.