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Over the past decades, more and more evidence has emerged that in order to stay healthy all over, we have to start in the gut.
It’s why so many of us have begun to turn to probiotics and probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, sauerkraut and kimchi to support the health of our microbiome and ward off chronic disease.
And now, there’s one more reason to do so…
That’s because according to a recent study from the University of California Riverside, a healthy microbiome could be the key to exercise motivation and endurance.
Separating athletes from couch potatoes
Past studies have demonstrated that exercise can keep your microbiome healthy. But this study went a step further, looking at the reverse — the effect of your microbiome on your ability to exercise.
And it used mice bred for high levels of running, as well as regular old couch potatoes, to do so.
“We believed an animal’s collection of gut bacteria, its microbiome, would affect digestive processes and muscle function, as well as motivation for various behaviors, including exercise,” said Theodore Garland, UCR evolutionary physiologist.
So how did they test the effects of the microbiome on exercise motivation and athletic ability?
By giving the mice antibiotics.
You see, antibiotics are known for sending your microbiome spinning out of balance, since they not only kill off the bad stuff in your body but also the good bacteria in your gut.
And they were able to confirm that after just 10 days of taking the medication, gut bacteria was reduced in both groups of mice.
What happened next is what’s most important…
Neither group of mice exhibited any signs of sickness from the antibiotic treatment.
This made it clear to the researchers that when wheel running in the athletic mice was reduced by 21 percent, the microbiome damage was responsible.
To top it off, those athletes weren’t able to recover and make it back to their normal running levels even 12 days after the antibiotic treatment stopped.
A balanced microbiome fuels your body
So why is your microbiome so important to your ability to stay active?
Well, according to the researchers, there are multiple answers to that question, the first of which is its ability to transform carbohydrates into chemicals that travel through your body and affect muscle performance.
Additionally, Garland says, “Metabolic end products from bacteria in the gut can be reabsorbed and used as fuel.
So fewer good bacteria means less available fuel.
This means whether you’re a weekend warrior, an athlete or workout for your wellness — improving the diversity of your microbiome could improve your motivation and your endurance. The easiest way to do that is with a probiotic supplement.
But it’s also important to take steps not to kill off those good bacteria once they’re in your system…
As Garland points out “We do know from previous studies that the western diet, high in fat and sugar, can have a negative effect on biodiversity in your gut and likely, by extension, on athletic ability and possibly even on motivation to exercise.”
So, you’ll want to limit junk foods such as fast food, chips, candy, donuts and sodas — and instead eat more fresh fruits and veggies, as well as probiotic powerhouses, like kefir and kimchi.
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Antibiotics wreak havoc on athletic performance – ScienceDaily