The gut microbiota is a complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of animals. The aggregate of all the genomes of the gut microbiota is collectively called the mcirobiome. The 100 trillion microorganisms residing within the intestines contribute to roughly 5 million additional genes, that can potentially influence many aspects of the human physiology.
Researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder have found that exercising early in life can improve the microbial community which further helps in promoting healthier brain and metabolic activity over the course of a lifetime.
The study by Prof. Monika Fleshner a professor in CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology is published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology . The results show that even though the gut microorganisms are influenced by various environmental factors such as diet and sleep in adult life, they are especially “plastic” at a young age.
The study found that juvenile rats who voluntarily exercised every day developed a more beneficial microbial structure, including the expansion of probiotic bacterial species in their gut compared to both their sedentary counterparts and adult rats, even when the adult rats exercised as well.
The exact age range crucial for this has not been pinpointed, however preliminary results indicate that earlier the better.
Agniezka Mika, a graduate researcher in CU-Boulder’s Department of Integrative Physiology and the lead author of the study said, “Future research on this microbial ecosystem will hone in on how these microbes influence brain function in a long-lasting way.”
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The original paper can be accessed here.