Bifido probiotic may enhance effects of exercise and boost training results: Study

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / ClaudioVentrella
© Getty Images / ClaudioVentrella

Related tags Probiotics Sports nutrition ergogenic aid endurance

Combining exercise with a bacterial strain isolated from an Olympic weightlifting gold medalist may synergistically increase endurance compared to training or the probiotic alone, suggests data from a mouse study.

Data published in the journal Nutrients​ indicated that combining Bifidobacterium longum​ subsp. Longum​ OLP-01 with exercise for six weeks led to significantly greater endurance and grip strength compared to training or the probiotic alone.

In addition, the OLP-01 plus exercise group had significantly greater decreases in markers of fatigue, such as lactate, ammonia, and creatine kinase, compared with the other groups.

“In [the] current study, probiotics demonstrated multiple functional effects on health and exercise performance promotion,” ​wrote scientists from National Taipei University of Nursing and Health Sciences and the National Taiwan Sport University.

“OLP-01 could be considered to be an ergogenic aid, particularly in athletes undergoing regular intensive training.”

The gut microbiota and athletes

Interest in how the gut microbiome is linked to athletic performance – and the potential of modulation of the microbiota via pre- and probiotics to boost performance – is an area of increasing interest. Data from scientists at University College Cork in Ireland in 2014 found that the gut microbiomes of professional Irish rugby players were significantly more diverse than non-athletes.

In addition, the researchers found that the rugby players had higher proportions of Akkermansia​, compared to non-athletes with high BMI. Akkermansia​ has been linked to improved metabolic profiles and is reported to have anti-obesity effects.

A follow-on study performed in collaboration with scientists at Imperial College London in England (and also published earlier this year in Gut​) found the differences between athletes and sedentary people is “even more evident at the functional or metabolic level”​.

Fitbiomics a spin-off from Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineerin, has taken a similar approach, but instead of focusing on Akkermansia​ it is focused on a strain of Veillonella​, which they found were increased in abundance in marathon runners post-race. The team then isolated one strain of Veillonella atypica​ from stool samples.

Recently, some of the same Taiwenese scientists involved in the new study reported that Lactobacillus salivarius​ subspecies salicinius​ (SA-03) isolated from the 2008 Olympic women’s 48 kg weightlifting gold medalist showed significant potential for sports nutrition (Microorganisms, 2020, 8​(4), 545​).

Study details

For the new study, lab mice were divided into four groups: Sedentary (control), exercise (treadmill), OLP-01, or exercise + OLP-01 for six weeks. OLP-01 isolated from the same Taiwanese female weightlifter was used to produce a lyophilized powder given to the mice at a dose equivalent to 1 billion CFU per day for humans.

Results showed that the exercise and exercise + OLP-01 groups had significantly lower body weights (-8.5%) and fat levels, compared to the sedentary and OLP-01 groups.

The researchers added that mice in the exercise, OLP-01, and exercise + OLP-01 groups all had significantly greater endurance in exhaustive swimming tests than the sedentary group, while exhaustive swimming times were significantly higher in the combination group compared to the exercise-only and OLP-01-only groups.

Grip strength was also highest in the combination exercise + OLP-01 group, compared to all of the other groups, they said.

Markers of fatigue were also lower in the combination group, with improvements noted for the modulation of blood urea nitrogen BUN and ammonia metabolism, said the researchers.

“Therefore, OLP-01 supplementation possibly exerts functional effects through the modulation of beneficial physiological adaptions and the production of related metabolites, particularly when combined with exercise training,”​ they wrote.

“Exercise combined with OLP-01 probiotics demonstrated functional benefits on physical activities through modulation of inflammation and physiological adaption. The microbiota represented possible regulators of functional activities, but this area should be further investigated.

“Athletes often experience intestinal discomfort because of high-intensity exercise, psychological stress, and off-site training. Thus, appropriate probiotics could be considered to be an alternative nutritional strategy for athletes to improve both their physiological adaption and their exercise performance.”

Source: Nutrients
2020, 12​(4), 1145;
“Exercise Training Combined with​ Bifidobacterium longum OLP-01 Supplementation Improves Exercise Physiological Adaption and Performance”
Authors: W-C. Huang

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