Researchers looked at professional rugby players and found that these elite athletes had a more diverse collection of bacteria in their digestive systems than other healthy men, who were not athletes, but were of similar age and body size.
“The most important aspect of our study is that it draws attention to the possibility that exercise may have a beneficial effect on the microbiota colonizing the human body, and it is associated with a more diverse microbiota,” said study researcher Dr. Fergus Shanahan, a gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at University College Cork in Ireland.
There is a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that the trillions of bacteria and other microbes living in the digestive tract play an important role in both digestive health and overall health. Greater microbial diversity has generally been linked with better health in older adults, while a loss of diversity has been observed in people with conditions as wide ranging as obesity, inflammatory bowel disease and autism, the researchers said. [5 Ways Gut Bacteria Affect Your Health]
The findings are published online today (June 9) in the journal Gut.