A recent article published in the Journal of Nature Medicine, highlights yet another role that the gut bacteria may play in our health—specifically as a potential boost for performance enhancement.
As you know, there has been a recent flurry of articles and trials related to our gut biome, i.e. the bugs that live within our intestinal tract. We have come to understand that these bugs play a huge role in health and disease states and that manipulation of the gut biome can thereby have a significant effect on our overall health.
Your gut biome
Areas that have been looked at thus far include the role of the gut biome in autism, mood, inflammatory bowel disease and other gastrointestinal disorders, autoimmune conditions (including Multiple Sclerosis) obesity and metabolic syndromes. Now we can add athletic performance, to that list …
“We observed an increase in Veillonella relative abundance in marathon runners…”
Nature Medicine, by Jonathan Scheiman et al
Let’s take a look at the article in greater detail…. the trial looked at the microbes that flourished in the guts of marathon runners, and discovered that a particular strain called Veillonella atypica was much more prevalent compared to control patients. They then cultured this Veillonella strain, and fed these microbes to mice. Compared to “control” mice, the mice that had been fed Veillonella ran on average 13% longer.
Gut health is key to athletic performance.
In trying to understand how the Veillonella helped boost performance, they turned their attention to the energy cycle (Kreb cycle) and found that these probiotics consumed Lactic acid as their preferred fuel source. Interestingly athletes didn’t run faster because they had LESS lactic acid….rather, their enhanced performance stemmed from having a higher amount of the short chain fatty acid Proprionate (which had been generated by the conversion of Lactic acid by the microbes!) If we recall our Kreb Cycle from years back–we know that ATP/energy production is vital for performance….additional Proprionate can be funneled into the Kreb Cycle and thereby serve as an alternative readily available fuel source for athletes AS they compete.
How does this help you?
Fascinating information…. Gut health is KEY for overall health including athletic performance. In addition a CLEAN diet that emphasizes fiber and naturally occurring probiotics in foods like Greek Yogurt help to populate your gut biome with the “healthy bugs.” Daily exercise as part of a wellness plan also impacts the population and diversity of your gut biome, which thereby becomes a positive feed back loop to optimize health further.
Testing the gut biome is something I do frequently, so that my patients know the status of the “good” vs “bad” “bugs” so that I can then individualize their treatment further. Science is moving forward and it’s critical that we look at ALL aspects of our health to individualize our care for optimal health!
“My patients know the status of the ‘good’ vs. the ‘bad’ bugs, so we can personalize their care.”
Dr. Kiki Silver, Boulder Peak Health
Read full article, Meta-omics analysis of elite athletes identifies a performance-enhancing microbe that functions via lactate metabolism, June 24, 2019 by Jonathan Scheiman et al.