Exercise impacts on gut bacteria, causing both brain activity and metabolic activity. A new study, published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology, has specified the overall impact of the human gut bacteria on health over the course of a lifetime.
“Exercise affects many aspects of health, both metabolic and mental, and people are only now starting to look at the plasticity of these gut microbes,” said Monika Fleshner, a professor in CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology and the senior author of the new study. “That is one of the novel aspects of this research.”
The research study focused on the “plasticity” of microorganisms at a young age and determined that juvenile rats who exercised every day developed a more beneficial structure, including the expansion of probiotic bacterial species in their gut compared to both their sedentary counterparts and adult rats.
“A robust, healthy community of gut microbes also appears to promote healthy brain function and provide anti-depressant effects”, Fleshner said. Previous research has shown that the human brain responds to microbial signals from the gut and impacts on a number of metabolic processes including the immune system.
“Future research on this microbial ecosystem will hone in on how these microbes influence brain function in a long-lasting way,” said Agniezka Mika, a graduate researcher in CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology and the lead author of the new study.