We already knew that exercise was good for blasting that belly fat, but now it seems it’s good for your gut health as well.
Or at least, that’s what new research from the University of Illinois shows.
It’s already been established that what we eat impacts our gut health. However, this new revelation gives us yet another reason to get our butts down to the gym.
Why is gut health so important?
The bacteria living in our guts play a role in our immune system, metabolism and other vital processes within our bodies.
But when the delicate balance in the intestines is disturbed, the consequences can be quite serious.
Ailments like irritable bowel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, allergies, asthma and even cancer have been linked to abnormalities in the gut.
That is why maintaining a healthy diet which supports bacterial diversity and health is so important.
So where does exercise come in?
One study undertaken by researchers at the university showed that physical activity, independent of diet, alters the composition of gut microbiota in mice. This increases the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which improve gut health by reducing inflammation.
But is the same necessarily true for people?
A subsequent study confirms this is indeed the case. Participants in a six-week exercise program all saw an increase in SCFA levels, altering the composition of their gut bacteria.
Does that mean we should hit it hard?
Not quite. While this study reveals the positive impact of exercise on the gut, another recent study by researchers at Monash University showed that intense exercise can actually harm the health of your gut.
The study found that as exercise duration and intensity increased, so did the risk of damage to the gastro intestinal tract. Exercising in intense heat was also found to be problematic.
By stressing the body, digestion is slowed and there can be bloating or nausea. Futhermore, it can also increase gut leakage. Leaky gut syndrome allows “bad” bacteria to move from the gut into the bloodstream, which can be bad news for your health.
However, low to moderate physical activity still got a thumbs-up on the gut front, with proper hydration before and during exercise highly recommended.
Have you noticed exercise improve your gut health?