SUBSCRIBE

Breaking News on Supplements & Nutrition - EuropeUS edition

Headlines > Research

Exercise and high protein diet may increase gut microbiota diversity: Research

Post a commentBy Nicola Cottam , 18-Jun-2014
Last updated on 18-Jun-2014 at 11:40 GMT

Athletes consuming high protein diets may have greater gut microbiota diversity, research has suggested.
Athletes consuming high protein diets may have greater gut microbiota diversity, research has suggested.

Exercise and ‘extreme' high protein diet could have beneficial impact on gut microbiota diversity, according to research published in the British Medical Journal. 

By comparing the diets of professional rugby players with two control groups of lay-subjects, the scientists discovered a correlation between exercise, protein consumption and increased levels of beneficial gut bacteria.

Diet plays an important role in determining the quantity and diversity of gut microbiota but the relationship with exercise is relatively unknown, the researchers wrote. 

“Exercise seems to be another important factor in the relationship between the microbiota, host immunity and host metabolism, with diet playing an important role,” the team of researchers at the University College Cork said.

Breeding diversity

A comparison of the diets and exercise regimes of the 40 athletes and two control groups of 23 lay-subjects each revealed a broader diversity of gut micro-organisms in the athletes, with 22 distinct phyla - that compose gut flora - compared to 11 for the controls.

This positively correlated with higher protein consumption and creatine kinase (CK) production – markers of extreme exercise, the authors said. They noted a reduction in gut inflammation and higher CK levels in athletes.

An increase in the bacteria akkermansia mucinphilla in athletes was also observed, which was inversely correlated with obesity and other related metabolic disorders, the researchers said.

High protein counts

Subjects in the two control groups were recruited based on their physical size relative to the rugby players. The average body mass index (BMI) of the first control group was 25 and in the second it was 28. The athletes’ average BMI was 29.

The sportsmen consumed a much higher level of calories, including proteins, saturated fat, sugar and carbohydrates, than the control groups and significantly higher quantities of fibre, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat than the high BMI control group.

Protein accounted for 22% of the total energy intake of the athletes, compared with 16% in the low BMI and 15% in the high BMI control groups.

Meat accounted for the majority of dietary protein consumed by all three groups, but supplements including whey protein were the second highest in athlete group accounting for 15%.

The researchers concluded that microbiota diversity was positively correlated with protein intake and CK, suggesting that diet and exercise were drivers of biodiversity in the gut.

“Diversity is important in all ecosystems to promote stability and performance. Microbiota diversity may become a new biomarker or indicator of health.”

Low levels of gut microbiota have been associated with conditions such as autism, glycemic index (GI) disease and obesity, the researchers added. 

 

Source: British Medical Journal 

Published online ahead of print, dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2013-306541  

“Exercise and associated dietary extremes impact on gut microbial diversity” 

Authors: S. F. Clarke, E. F. Murphy, O. O’Sullivan, A. J. Lucey, M. Humphreys, A. Hogan, P. Hayes, M. O’Reilly, I. B. Jeffery, R. Wood-Martin, D. M. Kerins, E. Quigley, R. Paul Ross, P. W. O’Toole, M. G. Molloy, E. Falvey, F. Shanahan, P. D. Cotter 

Subscribe to our FREE newsletter

Get FREE access to authoritative breaking news, videos, podcasts, webinars and white papers. SUBSCRIBE

Post a comment

Comment title *
Your comment *
Your name *
Your email *

We will not publish your email on the site

I agree to Terms and Conditions

These comments have not been moderated. You are encouraged to participate with comments that are relevant to our news stories. You should not post comments that are abusive, threatening, defamatory, misleading or invasive of privacy. For the full terms and conditions for commenting see clause 7 of our Terms and Conditions ‘Participating in Online Communities’. These terms may be updated from time to time, so please read them before posting a comment. Any comment that violates these terms may be removed in its entirety as we do not edit comments. If you wish to complain about a comment please use the "REPORT ABUSE" button or contact the editors.

Related products

Key Industry Events

 

Access all events listing

Our events, Events from partners...