A University of California (UCR) study suggests that broad-spectrum oral antibiotics may reduce human motivation and endurance for voluntary exercise, and this effect is amplified in high-exercise populations.
UCR physiologist Theodore Garland said on June 1: “We believe that an animal’s gut bacterial collection and its microbiome influence digestive processes and muscle function, as well as the effects of various behaviors, including exercise. motivation.”
The team worked in a mouse model by clearing the gut bacteria of two groups of mice: one that was bred for voluntary exercise, and normal mice that were not.
Mice were fed broad-spectrum oral antibiotics, and fecal samples collected 10 days later confirmed clearance of the gut microbiome, with no aerobic colonies detected after plating and culture of fecal samples.
Although the mice’s weight and overall health remained the same, the authors observed an immediate reduction in running distance and duration in mice raised for voluntary exercise.
Overall running duration and cage activity were also reduced in sedentary control mice, although the reductions were not significant.
Furthermore, even after a 12-day recovery period, the voluntary running group’s exercise levels did not return to pre-treatment levels, despite the researchers’ attempts to reintroduce the gut microbiota into the mice’s guts.
The authors compared microbiota clearance to damage.
“Recreational exercisers with minor injuries won’t be affected much. But for world-class athletes, a small setback can be much magnified,” said Monica McNamara, lead author of the study. .
Although the study was conducted on a mouse model, the researchers believe their findings could have implications for humans.
“While we’re studying mice, their physiology is very similar to humans. The more we learn from them, the better our chances of improving our own health,” Garland said.
“We hypothesized that antibiotic treatment may adversely affect athletic performance, at least for elite athletes,” he told The Epoch Times in an email.
Currently, there are many studies on the beneficial effects of exercise on the microbiome, but few studies have explored the inverse relationship.
One hypothesis about how the microbiome affects voluntary exercise is through its ability to convert carbohydrates into chemicals that travel through the body and participate in certain metabolic processes.
“Metabolic end products from gut bacteria can be reabsorbed and used as fuel,” Garland said. “Fewer good bacteria means less usable fuel.”
In addition, the microbiome’s influence on behavior is thought to also influence motivation, suggesting that the gut microbiome plays a role in reward circuits.
Metabolites produced by the microbiota are able to interact with cells and neurons in the reward pathway, although their function remains unclear.
Going forward, the researchers hope to identify the beneficial bacteria that help improve athletic performance.
“If we can pinpoint the right microbes, it may be possible to use them as therapeutics to help the average person get more exercise,” says Garland, of which some of the university’s ongoing research aims to further shed light on this direction.
A healthy diet can improve microbiota composition. Garland recommends maintaining a balanced diet and exercising to promote overall health.
“We do know from previous research that a Western diet high in fat and sugar can negatively impact gut biodiversity, which in turn may negatively impact exercise capacity and even motivation to exercise,” he said.