Endurance exercise causes adaptations to the function of the human body that can benefit the way that the body responds to future exercise, immunity, the stress response and inflammation. Although these adaptions can positively affect the gut microbiome, the gut microbiome can also impact the way the body responds to exercise in the first place. A healthy gut microbiome is key for the optimal response to exercise, for example for ideal hydration status.

For endurance and strength or power athletes alike, maintaining gut health with functional capacity can be a challenge with their high protein diets for muscle recovery. Athletes may suffer from bloating, runner’s diarrhoea or stomach cramps when running long distances as a result of their inefficient gut microbiome.

Marathon runners have been found to have a greater abundance of Veillonella bacteria post-marathon and greater numbers than those who are not athletes. Veillonella is associated with the breakdown and use of lactate, the substrate that causes the burning feeling in your muscles when you exercise. Could this be beneficial to gut health and athletic performance?

Animal research has shown that increased Veillonella leads to exercise adaptations can positively affect exercise performance. Assumptions cannot be made yet that there will be the same effect in humans, however, the future for sports performance and the gut microbiome is an exciting prospect.

There are bacteria that help break down lactic acid and release a metabolite, reducing fatigue and increasing your ability to release energy. Other bacteria can help your body to digest food that you have consumed and absorb nutrients. An imbalance of the good gut bacteria is called dysbiosis, leading to both inflammation and oxidative stress and a decrease in the benefits of good bacteria. This can be harmful from a health and sports performance perspective.

Evidently, for physical health, the presence and absence of particular microbes have been linked to immunity, neurological development, including impacts on the gut-brain axis. It now appears promising for the physical health benefits of the gut microbiome extending to Sports Medicine.

Whether you are an amateur or elite athlete, run the local fun runs or train intensely for competitions, we could all benefit from aiming for a healthy and diverse gut microbiome. There doesn’t seem to be the perfect microbiome currently but as part of a well-balanced diet, using nutritional strategies for a favourable gut microbiome could aid in increasing the beneficial effects mentioned above and optimise sport performance.

Eating a varied diet, with plenty of whole, plant-based foods is generally recommended. This includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts, seeds and legumes. Fermented foods and polyphenol rich foods can also be a great addition.

Getting enough fibre from foods may not always be possible, particularly for athletes who need to meet daily protein intakes. In this case Bimuno, a dietary fibre supplement could be beneficial. The recommended fibre intake per day is rarely met in the UK, therefore Bimuno could contribute towards your 30g daily intake.

Bimuno is Informed Sport certified, delivering quality assurance. What this means is that sports supplements can be trusted by athletes and does not contain any substances banned by the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA). To find out more about the informed sport process visit their website.