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Can Exercise Aid in a Healthier Gut

Exercise not only improves your physical and mental health, but research also shows it has positive impact on the microbiome

Not All Healthy Foods Are Created Equal Reading Can Exercise Aid in a Healthier Gut 5 minutes

It’s that time of year again when fitness goals and eating healthier are top of mind. No matter your reasons for committing to a refreshed health and wellness routine, you’ll be happy to know the benefits extend beyond feeling and looking your best. It turns out, exercise can help stimulate microbial diversity and richness in the microbiome which triggers a long list of positive changes.  

Lately, we’ve all heard the buzz around the microbiome. But what is it exactly? The microbiome is a collection of billions of bacteria that live in our gut—some good, some bad. Keeping an active lifestyle and prioritizing healthy nutrition can help keep your microbiome balanced, which has several benefits including improved digestion, better mental health, and superior overall wellbeing. But how does exercise and nutrition affect our microbiome? Let’s explore the connection between exercise, nutrition, and the microbiome.  

Exercising Your Microbiome

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Research suggests that exercise helps to promote a healthy balance in our gut microbiome by increasing beneficial bacteria while decreasing levels of harmful bacteria. Exercise also increases levels of short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, which are thought to provide protection against certain diseases. And as if that weren't enough, regular physical activity helps to reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity—both of which have been linked to our microbial balance. Research shows that changes in the microbiome appear to gradually disappear after people stop exercising.i ii iii iv 

Energizing Your Microbiome

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We’re all acutely aware of the many benefits, mental and physical, of exercising. However, it seems that the microbiome may influence exercise performance by producing postbiotics that the body uses as fuel. In skeletal muscle, these postbiotics are either oxidized, built into glucose, or they can increase the bioavailability of glucose, glycogen, and fatty acids during exercise. Additionally, these postbiotics aid in blood flow, insulin sensitivity, and in maintaining muscle mass. Because of the multiple paths of postbiotic support, the relationship between the gut and exercise is a growing area of research.v vi vii viii  

Feeding Your Microbiome

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Just like exercise influences our gut microbes, so too does our diet. Adding nutrient-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and living foods into your daily routine helps increase the concentration of beneficial bacteria in your body while reducing the presence of potentially harmful microorganisms. Mindfully eating plant-based foods can also help reduce inflammation by providing more antioxidants—which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties—and fewer unhealthy fats than animal-based foods. On top of this, eating a balanced diet full of fermented foods creates additional pre, pro, and postbiotics that can support the microbiome, in addition to regular exercise.   

The Gut x Exercise Connection

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Exercise and nutrition are both key components when it comes to maintaining a healthy balance in our gut microbiome. While research is still ongoing—especially when it comes to determining specific food types or exercises that are most beneficial for promoting a healthy microbial balance—we know that regular physical activity combined with a balanced diet full of unprocessed living foods will help support overall wellbeing by keeping your gut microbes happy and healthy! So next time you’re looking to give your body some extra TLC, grab your favorite bottle of SYNERGY Raw Kombucha or COCOYO Living Coconut Yogurt and get active. 

 

 

  1. Cataldi S, Poli L, Şahin FN, Patti A, Santacroce L, Bianco A, Greco G, Ghinassi B, Di Baldassarre A, Fischetti F. The Effects of Physical Activity on the Gut Microbiota and the Gut-Brain Axis in Preclinical and Human Models: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2022 Aug 11;14(16):3293.
  2. Bonomini-Gnutzmann R, Plaza-Díaz J, Jorquera-Aguilera C, Rodríguez-Rodríguez A, Rodríguez-Rodríguez F. Effect of Intensity and Duration of Exercise on Gut Microbiota in Humans: A Systematic Review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Aug 3;19(15):9518.
  3. Wegierska AE, Charitos IA, Topi S, Potenza MA, Montagnani M, Santacroce L. The Connection Between Physical Exercise and Gut Microbiota: Implications for Competitive Sports Athletes. Sports Med. 2022 Oct;52(10):2355-2369.
  4. Hughes RL, Holscher HD. Fueling Gut Microbes: A Review of the Interaction between Diet, Exercise, and the Gut Microbiota in Athletes. Adv Nutr. 2021 Dec 1;12(6):2190-2215.
  5. Hughes RL, Holscher HD. Fueling Gut Microbes: A Review of the Interaction between Diet, Exercise, and the Gut Microbiota in Athletes. Adv Nutr. 2021 Dec 1;12(6):2190-2215.
  6. Hughes RL. A review of the role of the gut microbiome in personalized sports nutrition. Front Nutr 2020;6(191):191.
  7. Boets E, Gomand SV, Deroover L, Preston T, Vermeulen K, De Preter V, Hamer HM, Van den Mooter G, De Vuyst L, Courtin CM. Systemic availability and metabolism of colonic-derived short-chain fatty acids in healthy subjects: a stable isotope study. J Physiol 2017;595(2): 541–55. 19.
  8. Hawley JA. Microbiota and muscle highway—two way traffic. Nat Rev Endocrinol 2019;16(2):1–2. 20.
  9. Nay K, Jollet M, Goustard B, Baati N, Vernus B, Pontones M, LefeuvreOrfila L, Bendavid C, Rué O, Mariadassou M. Gut bacteria are critical for optimal muscle function: a potential link with glucose homeostasis. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 2019;317(1):E158–71. 21.
  10. Frampton J, Murphy KG, Frost G, Chambers ES. Short-chain fatty acids as potential regulators of skeletal muscle metabolism and function. Nat Metab 2020;2(9):1–9.

 

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