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Exercise helps your gut health, but not without healthy food

Recent research suggests that exercise can significantly influence gut physiology alongside a healthy diet. 

As discussed earlier on this blog, the composition of the gut microbiome plays a vital role in nutrient metabolism, immune function, and inflammatory balance. Next to the maintaining the gut microbiome via the right nutrition, UCLA Health reports that our physical activity modulates diversity as well.

Both low and high impact workouts can improve your gut health

  • High-impact and/or high-duration exercise is associated with higher body oxygenation, which in turn creates a favorable environment for the microbiome bacteria.
  • Low-impact exercise like walking can speed up the transient stool time, which is the time it takes for food to move through the digestive tract. This helps the microbiome extract nutrients from food and dispose of waste.
  • In general, exercise also reduces the risk of inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer by increasing antioxidant levels, enhancing immune function, and lowering insulin levels.

Benefits of exercise are highest when combined with healthy food

  • Nutrient-dense (i.e., fruits and vegetables, lean meats, nuts, whole grains etc.) and anti-inflammatory foods combined with regular exercise, optimize overall health and boost the immune system.
  • Surprisingly, the gut microbiome can influence an individual's motivation to exercise, as seen in studies where microbiome-depleted mice showed reduced motivation to run on a wheel compared to their counterparts. This in turns implies that people who most need exercise may be least motivated to engage in it – food can be an effective lever here.
  • While research highlights the interconnectedness between exercise, diet, and the gut microbiome, further studies are needed to understand these relationships fully. However, it is certain that maintaining a balance of both diet and exercise is crucial for optimizing health and well-being.
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