|Yogurt & Co are good for athletes. But is this due to the bacteria?|
In said study which is still available only as an accepted manuscript, Hsu et al. investigated the association of intestinal bacteria and exercise performance in specific pathogen-free (SPF), germ-free (GF), and Bacteroides fragilis (BF) gnotobiotic mice (animals in which only certain known strains of bacteria and other microorganisms are present).
To this ends, the scientist had the rodents swim to exhaustion to determine whether enteric bacteria alter antioxidant enzyme levels, exercise performance and physical fatigue. In addition, they tested the antioxidant enzyme activities, physical performance and anti-fatigue function after monocolonizing GF mice with B. fragilis (BF).
|Figure 1: Time to exhaustion during exercise test and body composition of the miceaccording to the make-up of their gut microbiome; data expressed relative to group means (Hsu. 2014)|
Do we have human data, as well? No, we don't have human data that's comparable to the one presented in the study at hand, but we do have evidence of beneficial (ergogenic) effects of probiotics and prebiotics in human "athletes". Examples? Well, the oral administration of the probiotic Lactobacillus fermentum VRI-003 and mucosal immunity in endurance athletes (Cox. 2010). Improved oxidative status in athletes during intense exercise training (Martarelli. 2011). Reduced risk of infection (Gleeson. 2011; West. 2011). And if that's not enough, what about keeping on top of your game by preventing and managing travellers’ diarrhoea (Tillett. 2006)!As any SuppVersity veteran would expect, the germ-free mice were leaner than the rest of the pack. At the same time, the "sterile" mice did yet also have a lower liver, muscle, brown adipose, and epididymal fat pad weight than the SPF and BF mice.
|Figure 2: Selected markers of antioxidant status in serum and liver; expr. rel. to group means (Hsu. 2014)|
- Bäckhed, Fredrik, et al. "Mechanisms underlying the resistance to diet-induced obesity in germ-free mice." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104.3 (2007): 979-984.
- Cani, Patrice D., et al. "Gut microbiota fermentation of prebiotics increases satietogenic and incretin gut peptide production with consequences for appetite sensation and glucose response after a meal." The American journal of clinical nutrition 90.5 (2009): 1236-1243.
- Cox, Amanda J., et al. "Oral administration of the probiotic Lactobacillus fermentum VRI-003 and mucosal immunity in endurance athletes." British Journal of Sports Medicine 44.4 (2010): 222-226.
- DiMarco, N. M., et al. "A–Z of nutritional supplements: dietary supplements, sports nutrition foods and ergogenic aids for health and performance—Part 30." British journal of sports medicine 46.4 (2012): 299-300.
- Gleeson, Michael, et al. "Daily probiotic's (Lactobacillus casei Shirota) reduction of infection incidence in athletes." (2011).
- Hsu et al. "Effect of Intestinal Microbiota on Exercise Performance in Mice." Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. DOI: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000644 | Publish Ahead of Print.
- Martarelli, Daniele, et al. "Effect of a probiotic intake on oxidant and antioxidant parameters in plasma of athletes during intense exercise training." Current microbiology 62.6 (2011): 1689-1696.
- West, Nicholas P., et al. "Lactobacillus fermentum (PCC®) supplementation and gastrointestinal and respiratory-tract illness symptoms: a randomised control trial in athletes." Nutrition journal 10.1 (2011): 30.