How to get more out of exercise by looking after your microbiota

If the gut and oral microbiota are altered, the benefits of exercise will be reduced.

Currently, there is sufficient scientific evidence to ensure that the benefits provided by sport for him immune system and on metabolism they are mediated by the microbiota, that is, the billions of bacteria that inhabit the digestive system, from the mouth to the intestines.

Therefore, if the the microbiota changes the benefits that sport brings you will be reduced and it affects both intestinal and oral microbiota. That’s why sugary drinks, antibacterial mouthwashes, or eating simple carbohydrates damage your oral health and, rebound, reduce the positive effect exercise has on your heart.

How the microbiota affects exercise

The gut microbiota is a set of microorganisms that inhabit the gut.

“Save it Balance of the microbiota is essential to prevent the colonization of other pathogenic microorganisms and helps to digest food, produce B and K vitamins and stimulate the immune system. If changes occur, they may affect human health and the environment. sports performance“, Explain Daniel BadiaAssociate Professor of UOC Health Sciences Research in article of that university.

“Imbalances in the microbiota, the so-called dysbiosis, can cause nutritional deficiencies, excessive fermentation, and intestinal permeability, among other things. All of these conditions have a negative impact on the athlete’s performance, or by causing intestinal disordercompromising the types of foods that should be consumed during exercise or causing affects in the energy field that manifest in a feeling of more fatigueBadia warns.

healthy gut microbiota to increase muscle mass

Produces a healthy gut microbiota short chain fatty acids from the fermentation of fiber in the colon. These acids can be oxidized in the muscles, increasing available muscle glucose.

They also help increase Bleedingon insulin sensitivity and on preservation of muscle masswhich increases the athlete’s performance and improves health, explains the professor.

foods that care for the intestinal flora

Foods that improve intestinal flora are basically probiotics and on prebiotics.

  • The probiotics They carry beneficial bacteria in the gut. They have fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut or olives. If there is dysbiosis (imbalance in the intestinal microbiota), supplements are recommended under the supervision of a specialist, as the probiotic content is much higher.
  • The prebiotics They serve as food for the good gut bacteria and are mainly fiber-rich foods such as vegetables (fruits and vegetables). Resistant starch is also a great prebiotic and is achieved after cooking foods rich in complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice or sweet potatoes and storing them in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
  • The polyphenols such as quercetin, resveratrol or curcumin are beneficial for the intestinal flora and are found in berries, cocoa, grapes, turmeric…
  • The healthy fats such as olive oil or avocado also contribute to the health of the intestinal flora.

What is the relationship between oral microbiota and exercise?

Most studies who analyzed the relationship between microbiota and exercise focused on the gut microbiota. However, in recent years it has been seen that bacteria in the mouth, the second most complex microbiome in the body after the intestine they have a key role in sports benefit.

Researchers of University of Plymouth (UK) and Open University of Catalonia reviewed all available scientific evidence in this regard and published the results in the journal PharmaNutrition.

Most of the bacteria in the mouth are essential for health. Only a minority cause diseases such as caries or periodontitis. In fact, previous studies have shown that if you inhibit the activity of bacteria in your mouth, the cardiovascular benefits of exercise are reduced“, accents Raul Bescossenior lecturer in physiology at the University of Plymouth and first author of the study.

“There have been indications of a link between exercise and the oral microbiota, but also a lot of gaps, and so we wanted to review what impact it has on the oral microbiota and how that might have modulating effects on the benefits of sportadds Professor Bescós.

Why a healthy oral microbiota improves athletic performance

A vivid example of the positive and direct impact between oral microbiota and exercise can be seen in nitrate consumption.

This is shown by studies conducted by Beskos himself and Patricia Casas-AgustenchProfessor of Health Sciences at the UOC and Research Associate at the University of Plymouth.

nitrate is a molecule that we consume with foods (found in green leafy vegetables such as arugula or spinach). We also manufacture endogenous (internal) when we do it physical activity.

Nitrates, among other things, serves as food for the bacteria in the mouth which in turn convert it to nitrites. And on nitrites increase blood flow to the muscles and lowering of blood pressure.

That’s why on major sports clubs include in the diets of their athletes foods rich in nitrates.

Poor oral health of elite athletes

However, altered oral microbiota prevent this conversion of nitrates to nitrites which favors sports performance so much and that multiplies the cardiovascular effect of sports, the researchers warn.

Something to consider elite athletes. In this group, the prevalence of oral diseases, including dental erosion, caries and periodontitis, is similar to or higher than that of the general population. And everything points to diet and hydration as the main culprits. Here’s how Casas-Augstench explains it:

Too many sugars.“Athletes consume a lot sweet and sour drinks which can affect oral health and bacterial abundance. They also eat a lot of carbohydrates, including high-sugar foods like energy bars, which can alter the oral microbiota.”is stated therein.

dry mouth. Dehydration that occurs during sports such as cycling or athletics imbalance of the oral microbiota and reduce the protection of the teeth.

Change in oral pH. “Some athletes often vomit as a result of anxiety they have before competitions or during competitions due to exertion that causes changes in oral pH, enamel erosion and bacterial composition imbalanceconfirms the UOC researcher.

Are mouthwashes harmful if you exercise?

Another factor that researchers have also looked into is mouthwash with antibacterial action such as those containing chlorhexidine:

“They inhibit bacteria in the mouth and it has been observed that when used chlorhexidine the positive effects of exercise on blood pressure are reduced drastically”Beskos points out.

This is what the researcher recalls on The oral microbiota is essential for the cardiovascular response of physical exercise. If the mouth is healthy, bacteria help us convert nitrates into nitrites. On the contrary, we lose much of the benefits of exercise.

How to care for the oral microbiota

Bescós and Casas-Agusttech agree with these recommendations for takes care of the oral microbiota and improves sports performance and heart health:

  • Increase your consumption vegetables rich in nitrates.
  • He chews his food very well. Chewing helps with salivation and saliva is essential for regulates pH in the mouth and the composition and activity of bacteria in the mouth.

Therefore, the advice of the researchers is to include in the diet high fiber foods such as fruit (whole to promote chewing) and vegetables as well as nuts. And of course, reduce your intake of sugary drinks and simple carbohydrates (refined grains such as bread, pasta, and white rice; sweets or pastries).

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