While researchers have known for some time that a regular exercise routine can positively influence the composition of the gut microbiome, only recently have scientists discovered how, conversely, a properly functioning microbiome can lead to bigger muscles. The fact that a healthy gut microbiome promotes bigger muscles is good news for individuals looking for new ways to build strength.
What is the Gut Microbiome?
The first thing to understand is how the gut microbiome works. The gut microbiome is a biological ecosystem made up of trillions of bacteria, fungi and other types of tiny organisms that take up residence inside of the body’s digestive system. Unfortunately, most people do not realize the importance of maintaining optimal gut microbiome health until it is not firing on all cylinders. A disturbed microbiome can be caused by a variety of issues, including poor nutritional choices and the use of antibiotics.
When the gut microbiome is disrupted, there may be a severe impact on the immune system, digestive processes and more. This makes it important to be aware of how your lifestyle choices may affect the health of your gut microbiome.
How a Healthy Gut Microbiome Promotes Bigger Muscles
Can a healthy gut microbiome assist in your quest to build strength? A new study from professionals at the University of Kentucky indicates that the function of the microbiome could be a determining factor in how well the body is able to build strength. The study’s findings appeared in a recent issue of The Journal of Physiology.
The researchers administered antibiotics to half of the mice in the study group while the remaining half was used as a control group. The study then measured the performance of each group of mice on running wheels for a period of about nine weeks. The researchers were also able to measure and compare the skeletal muscles of the arms and legs of each group of mice.
The group of mice that received antibiotics had slower and less obvious muscle gain than those who did not receive the antibiotics. Because the use of antibiotics is proven to disrupt the normal function of the gut microbiome, the researchers hypothesize that a weakened gut microbiome hinders the body’s ability to put on muscle.
The results of the study suggest that a well-functioning microbiome is necessary for mice if muscle growth is to occur as a result of exercise. While it is not certain yet if this translates to humans, it is clear that there is a connection between exercise and the function of the bacteria that live inside your gut.
The Connection Between Exercise and Gut Microbiome
The relationship between exercise and the gut microbiome is not a one-way street. In addition to the evidence that indicates that a healthy gut microbiome may support the development of bigger muscles, a regular exercise program can also influence the health and function of the bacteria in the gut. It is clear that regular exercise has the ability to boost the number of microbial species while also supporting the diversity of the various microflora in the gut.
In a study out of the University of Illinois, exercising for only six weeks was demonstrated to have a significant impact on the makeup of the gut microbiome. After this period of exercise, the participants demonstrated an increase in the particular microbes that boost the production of short-chain fatty acids. These types of acids are instrumental in the fight to lower the risk of various inflammatory diseases, obesity, heart conditions and type 2 diabetes.
How You Can Support a Healthy Gut Microbiome
So how exactly can you support a healthy gut microbiome? There are a number of lifestyle changes that you can make in an effort to boost the function and health of your gut. The most impactful way to encourage the proper function of gut bacteria is to eat a wide range of healthy foods. This includes being purposeful about eating plenty of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fruit and beans. All of these foods deliver an abundance of fiber, a component necessary to stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria. Nutritionists also recommend eating a diet that includes fermented foods as a means to enhance the function of the microbiome. Good choices include yogurt, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi and kombucha.
In addition to focusing on your diet, you can also maintain a healthy gut by taking a targeted supplement that provides both prebiotics and probiotics. A combination that is rich in both probiotics and prebiotics will deliver the maximum results.
There seems to be no end to the benefits of a healthy gut microbiome. The latest findings demonstrate that in addition to the previously known health advantages of a well-functioning microbiome, this system may also boost muscle growth.