By William B. Miller, Jr., M.D.
Millions of Americans are serious about fitness since we have long been told of its benefits. It is well established that consistent exercise promotes long-term health by lowering blood pressure, improving glucose tolerance, and assisting in weight management. Most people who exercise report an additional positive; physical activity improves their mental outlook. Recent reports go even farther. Regular exercise may delay the onset of dementia for those who are prone.
However, those are not the only systems that are affected. Modern research has documented many substantial changes that occur with exercise in our gut microbiome, which is being reshaped as a result of the metabolic changes that incur from regular moderate exercise. Exercise is associated with an increase in gut microbial diversity, which is associated with an improved metabolic profile and a strengthened immune system. This shift is believed to be the result of an increase in a particular bacterial strain, Bifidobacteria, that is essential for optimum health and whose levels tend to decline with age. Exercise provides a valuable boost to that population in our gut. [Read more…]