Exercise will always be a part of a healthy lifestyle. The benefits to both our physical and mental healthare well documented and widely understood. However, the specific impact of exercise on your gut health and indeedvice versa-on your gut health and your physical performance, is the subject of much current scientific research.
There is evidence that physical exercise, independent of your diet, can positively affect the different bacteria in the gut. Recent studies suggest that exercise not only increases the number of good bacteria in the gut, it importantly encourages diversity, the growth of different kinds of good bacteria which each bring their own benefits. Having lots of different bacteria in your gut is a really good thing.
It is the interaction of the good bacteria (probiotics) and fibre (prebiotics) and the consequent production of short chain fatty acids like butyrate that is the foundation of good gut health. Butyrate is where the fuel cells of the gut lining come from, allowing it to maintain its integrity. In turn this helps reduce inflammation and helps prevents toxins, metabolites and organic compounds from our food consumption from crossing into the bloodstream.
Gut health and physical performance, particularly of top athletes is the subject of much research – sports is big business! But there is learning we can all take from this. Your gut health can impact your physical performance in a number of ways:
Reduction in Inflammation – less inflammation is a key benefit of good gut health and subsequently a real negative of poor gut health or ‘gut dysbiosis’ and imbalance in the bacteria is an increase in inflammation. This can directly impact athletic performance at all levels.
Inflammation also increases recovery times - this is a real issue for performance athletes. It is also the cause of many chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes, arthritis and even heart disease and cancer.
Improved energy levels – a healthy balanced gut can reduce tiredness and fatigue by breaking down lactic acid more effectively, modulate the metabolism and regulate how energy is created, stored and expended.
Redefine failure – doing something, anything, that involves you getting out of breath and sweaty is a start and is success. It’s not about running a marathon.
If you need someone to spur you on, then join a club or find a willing friend.
Find your ideal time to exercise. If you're anything like our co-founder Helenor, you might find that getting out before breakfast or first thing in the morning is the best time to do it.
Think about getting a wearable tracker or at least track your activity on an app of some kind (Fitbit / RunKeeper / Strava) – it can be really motivating to see how far you have come and the impact of your effort.