Exercise in Your Early Life Changes Your Gut Microbes, Promoting a Healthy Brain and Metabolism

First Posted: Dec 29, 2015 09:31 AM EST

Exercise done in your early-life may alter your gut microbes and promote a healthy brain and metabolism. Scientists have found then exercising early in life can be huge when it comes to your later years.

"Exercise affects many aspects of health, both metabolic and mental, and people are only now starting to look at the plasticity of these gut microbes," said Monika Fleshner, one of the researchers, in a news release. "That is one of the novel aspects of this research."

Microbes take up residence within human intestines shortly after birth. These microbes are vital to the development of the immune system and various neural functions. The microbes can actually add as many as 5 million genes to a person's overall genetic profile and thus have tremendous power to influence aspects of human physiology.

This microbial community remains somewhat malleable throughout adult life, and can be influenced by environmental factors such as diet and sleep patterns. However, gut microorganisms are especially "plastic" at a young age.

In this latest study, the researchers found that juvenile rats who voluntarily exercised every day developed a more beneficial microbial structure, including the expansion of probiotic bacterial species in their gut compared to both their sedentary counterparts and adult rats, even when the adult rats exercised well. The researchers also found that a robust, healthy community of gut microbes promoted healthy brain function.

The findings reveal the importance of exercise, especially at a young age. Currently, the scientists are looking forward to future studies to see how these microbes influence brain function in a long-lasting way.

The findings are published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology.

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