Intense Periods Of Sustained Exercise Damages Gut Health

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Long periods of intense, heavy-duty exercise can have a detrimental affect on a person’s gut health, according to research published in the American Physiological Society – Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology journal.

Researchers enrolled a team of 73 Norwegian soldiers to take part in a training program and discovered that those who embarked on the sustained endurance exercise were more likely to harm the composition of microorganisms – known as microbiota – that reside in the gut. The lining of the gut wall was compromised, leading to what is known as ‘leaky gut’ wherein potentially harmful bacteria can escape from the gut into the bloodstream.

The military participants underwent a four-day, military-style cross country exercise. During that time they went skiing for 31 miles (51 km) while carrying 99-pound (45 kg) packs. Researchers collected blood and stool samples before and after the training.

Analysis of those samples showed the microbiota and composition of microbiomes produced during metabolism was “significantly” changed by the end of the training. Likewise, sucralose excretion rose “considerably” which indicates an increase in intestinal permeability.

“Our findings suggest that the intestinal microbiota may be one mediator of IP (intestinal permeability) responses to severe physiologic stress, and that targeting the microbiota before stress exposure may be one strategy for maintaining IP,” the researchers wrote.

“[Previous] human studies have demonstrated that drastic changes in diet impact intestinal microbiota composition by altering the availability of metabolic substrates for intestinal microbes. Our findings contrast with those reports in demonstrating alterations in microbiota composition that most likely were not solely attributable to diet, and which were more pronounced than is commonly reported in human diet studies,” the researchers wrote.

Gut health is a serious business. In the last year alone, multiple studies have shown that the connection between our gastrointestinal system and the rest of the body is far more important than previously conceived. The state of our colons can affect other systems outside of the GI. Two studies in July 2016 indicated that the health of our gut bacteria is also connected to insulin resistance, rheumatoid arthritis and fatigue.

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