Monday, March 13, 2017

Microbial Balance, the Brain and Athletic Performance

The gut microbiome and its influence on host behavior, intestinal barrier and immune function are believed to be a critical aspect of the brain-gut axis.1 This has important implications for athletes, as fatigue, mood disturbances, under performance and gastrointestinal distress associated with over training are common among athletes during training and competition. This is not to dismiss that exercise that does not result in overtraining also induces a level of “stress" to homeostatic mechanisms that ultimately result in training adaptations. Associated with these can be a stress-related release of catabolic hormones, inflammatory cytokines and microbial molecules all of which can influence microbial balance.

It has been suggested that gut microbiota might have a key role in controlling the oxidative stress and inflammatory responses as well as improving metabolism and energy expenditure during intense exercise.4 The exact connection between exercise-induced stress, the associated adaptations, over training, the gut microbiota and performance have not been clearly identified. What is clear is that it may be possible to design diet and supplemental strategies to optimize microbial balance and optimize performance through the gut-brain axis.1,2 For example, change in diet can significantly influence the composition of the gut microbiota composition in just 24 hours.

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