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Athletes Gut Bacteria Composition Is Different Than Non-Athletes

Could gut bacteria be so important that it makes people better athletes? A recent study suggests that being physically active may encourage beneficial bacteria strains in the gut.


Participants in the study included 40 Irish rugby players from the national rugby squad and 46 non-athletes who acted as controls. The researchers examined the fecal microbiota of all the participants. The results were correlated with lifestyle parameters and clinical measurements, including dietary habits and serum creatine kinase.


The rugby players were found to have relative increases in pathways such as amino acid and antibiotic biosynthesis and carbohydrate metabolism. They also had increases in fecal metabolites such as microbial produced short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) acetate, propionate and butyrate. These are all associated with enhanced cell turnover, tissue repair, and overall health when compared with control.


Researchers from National University of Ireland conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print in the journal Gut on March 30, 2017.


Only 30% of the human gut bacteria has been mapped but previous studies have found that having a varied composition of bacteria in your digestive system is essential for good gut health and for good health overall. If you’re looking to improve gut bacteria diversity, consider taking a prebiotic or probiotic supplement or, as this study suggests, increase your physical activity.

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