Destroying gut micro-organisms reduces motivation and ability to exercise.
According to a recent study, antibiotics destroy important bacteria in the gut, which destroys motivation and stamina in athletes. According to a mouse study conducted by the University of California, Riverside, an important element that differentiates athletes from couch potatoes is their microbiome.
The study is one of the few to look at how gut bacteria influence voluntary exercise habits. Other studies have looked at how exercise affects the microbiome, but the opposite is true. Voluntary exercise requires both athletic prowess and motivation.
The results of the scientists were recently published in the journal Behavioral processes.
“We believed that an animal’s collection of gut bacteria, its microbiome, could drive digestive processes and muscle function, as well as a variety of behaviors, including exercise,” said UCR evolutionary physiologist Theodore Garland, whose lab conducted the study. “Our study reinforces this belief.”
The researchers showed that after 10 days of antibiotic treatment, the gut bacteria in both groups of mice decreased.
Both groups of mice showed signs of disease after antibiotic therapy. So the researchers were convinced that damage to the microbiota was to blame when wheel running was reduced by 21% in the athletic mice. 12 days after the antibiotic treatment was stopped, the high runner mice also failed to regain their running behavior.
The behavior of normal mice did not change significantly during or after treatment.
“A minor injury does not affect the casual athlete much. But for a world-class athlete, a small bug can turn out to be much bigger,” says Monica McNamara, a doctoral student in evolutionary biology at UCR and first author of the paper. “So we wanted to compare the two types of mice.” The destruction of the normal gut microbiome can be compared to a wound.
One way the microbiome affects exercise in mice or humans is through its ability to convert carbohydrates into chemicals that travel through the body and affect muscle function.
“The metabolic end products of the bacteria in the gut can be reabsorbed and used as fuel,” Garland said. “Less good bacteria means less available fuel.”
Researchers want to move forward and identify the bacteria responsible for increased athletic performance. “If we can identify the right microbes, there’s an opportunity to use them as a treatment to help average people exercise more,” Garland said.
Lack of exercise is known to be a major risk factor for mental health, including depression, as well as physical health, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. The public health community wants to promote exercise, but few have found ways to do it successfully.
“Although we study mice, their physiology is very similar to humans. “The more we learn from them, the better our chances of improving our own health,” said Garland.
Certain foods can increase the beneficial bacteria in the gut. As research on “probiotics” continues to evolve, Garland recommends that those interested in improving overall health follow a balanced diet in addition to regular exercise.
“We know from previous research that the Western diet, which is high in fat and sugar, can have a negative effect on the biodiversity in your gut and possibly affect athletic performance and even exercise,” Garland said.
Reference: “Oral Antibiotics Reduce Voluntary Exercise Behavior in Athletic Mice” by Monica P. McNamara, Marcel D. Cudney, Alberto A. Castro, David A. Hillis, Kelly M. Callini, John C. Macbeth, Margaret P. Schmill, Nicole E. Schwartz, Ansel Hsiao, and Theodore Garland Jr., 4 May 2022. Behavioral processes.