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Add Gut Health to Your Overall Fitness Checklist

Add Gut Health to Your Overall Fitness Checklist

Joan Schnorf

The human microbiome has been busy making a name for itself lately.

Just a decade ago, we rarely heard about this massive bacterial community that comprises billions of microorganisms setting up shop throughout our bodies.

Science has been busy, too. New research is pointing to this incredible network and its impact on everything from our metabolism to our immune system, and general health overall. In other words, the microbiome has its thousands of tiny hands in every single, solitary function of your body.

And the gastrointestinal tract, in particular, boasts the highest concentration of these bacteria.

Gut health seems pretty important in that light, doesn’t it?

Here are three quick reasons why it’s also important for your workout:

  • It boosts your immune system: Did you know? Nearly 80% of a person’s immune system is located in the gut. Studies have shown distinct strains of good bacteria residing there, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, can decrease the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. Additionally, the body’s immune system is responsible for the acute inflammation process that dispatches restorative cells to repair muscles after a strenuous workout. Of course, this cycle of repair ultimately leads to increased muscle mass, boosted strength, improved tone, and so much more.
  • It contributes to weight management: Proper gut health hinges on gut diversity – the mix of bacteria that fortify your intestinal wall and encourage nutrient absorption. Diversity, in turn, hinges on a balanced and/or restricted diet. Poor dietary choices and excesses, on the other hand, reduce gut diversity. The gut impacts nutrient absorption, uses hormones to help us feel full so we don’t overindulge, and regulates our blood sugar levels. Nutritional guidance from a licensed professional can go a long way toward striking a bacterial balance that ultimately helps you shed pounds.
  • It energizes you. The intestinal microbiome’s good bacteria are responsible for creating Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) when they digest fiber. In addition to warding off inflammation and unwanted, bad bacteria, SCFAs are responsible for generating the energy we need to exercise and everything else.

Of course, the relationship between gut health and physical fitness is a two-way street. Poor gut health opens the door to inflammation, which is counterproductive to fitness. And, recently, researchers from the University of Illinois discovered an immensely positive effect on the human microbiome after six weeks of exercise; an effect that reversed once the workouts ceased. The moral of that story? Don’t stop exercising. And if you’re not already exercising? It’s time to start.

Fitness Together Ellicott City can help. Contact us today to learn more.

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