More and more researchers have investigated how your gut microbes can make you sick. Scientists have linked these vital mistakes to anything from schizophrenia to autism, allergies and obesity. But what do the microbes look like in the guts of super-healthy people? Say, in top athletes such as marathon runners?
A research team from the Joslin Diabetes Center and the Wyss Institute, both at Harvard Medical School, sampled runners' intestinal bacteria one week earlier and one week later in the Boston Marathon. The group, partially led by microbiologist Alex Kostic, compared the samples with those of some non-elite athletes: scientists in the lab. The results were published on Monday in Nature Medicine .
The team found that most marathon runners had a higher number of bacteria called Veillonella . This species or genus lives on lactate. Do you remember the last time you experienced a "burning sensation" during exercise or some other strenuous task? That's the lactate in your muscles.
After the marathon, these lactate-eating bacteria in the gut of the runners have gone crazy in bacterial jargon or have "flowered". Now the researchers have put together how these bacteria can give top athletes a boost – and how they can share this boost with us.
The researchers gave some laboratory mice Veillonella from the runners – if they like rodent probiotics – and tested their run endurance. Mice with the marathon runner's microbes ran 13 percent longer than those without fatigue.
Then they looked at the microbiome of a larger cohort of perseverance
Athletes – Add Ultra Marathon Runners and Olympic Trial Rowers to Their Study –
and saw that Veillonella also flourished in them after training. More you
found the genes that were turned on in the microbes, and found out how they got
Lactate into another compound, propionate, split.
All of this makes sense until you consider why the lactate built up in the muscles would even end up in the colons of the athletes. The researchers already knew that most of the lactate degradation takes place in the liver. Therefore, the researchers decided to pass some lactate through the body to see if it ends up in the gut. They added some lactate to a heavier version of the carbon element, an isotope. Then they injected the rodent test persons, waited a few minutes, killed them, and opened their guts to look for the substance. The team found that part of this lactate actually landed in the colon of the mice.
At this point, it seemed to the scientists as if everything was going to add up. If Veillonella eats lactate, these athletes may not feel so much of the burn, so they can do well in these perennial competitions. However, according to the researchers, the story is more complicated. In mice after training with and without Veillonella in their systems, the lactate levels of the animals were not so different.
Instead, they looked at the propionate from which the gut bacteria were made, more specifically lactate. They gave mice (without Veillonella ) propionate enemas to see what effect the compound would have on the gut.
Propionate increased stamina on the treadmill, as did Veillonella . The extra stamina was not because the elite athletes had less lactate but because they had more propionate.
Microbes For Fitness?
What exactly does the propionate, is not fully understood
However, it is known that this compound does some things in the body. It is
Anti-inflammatory, and it can serve as an energy source for cells in the intestine. It
could also increase the capacity of the nervous system.
But before you get any more propionate enema (please do not – Kostic says that would be "highly inadvisable"), there could be a better solution.
Jonathan Scheiman, another lead author of the paper, began this research when he was a researcher at the Wyss Institute. Since then, however, he has the task to found a biotech startup called FitBiomics.
"There is a great desire and ambition [at Wyss] not to keep discoveries in the lab in bottles and to find ways to translate them into the real world," says Scheiman.
FitBiomics is working to make Veillonella a prescription-free probiotic. This might give a little boost to normal athletes, but more importantly, sitting people have more capacity to exercise.
"Is it possible that an error occurs?
The lack of Veillonella in their microbiome could help to change that? ", ask her
Kostic. "This is the most important potential from a health perspective
Scheiman said he was motivated to do this research, thanks to his past as a college athlete. "When I did not do the NBA, I have a Ph.D in microbiology as a backup," he says.
The most fit and healthy people in the world, trying to understand what
makes it unique and powerful at an optimal level, "says Scheiman. "Can we translate?
this information in consumer health applications? "
" As an athlete and now as a scientist, "says Scheiman," me
think what appeals to me the most is connecting communities to one another
to create something completely unique. "