The human gut houses an ecosystem packed with trillions of microbes, which change dynamically over an individual’s lifetime and are associated with numerous diseases and general health. Recently, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have revealed that exercise early in life can alter that microbial community for the better, promoting healthier brain and metabolic activity over the course of a lifetime.
This novel research, which was recently published in the journal Immunology and Cell Biology, hints early human development may offer more opportunities to improve lifelong health.
We know that exercise affects many aspects of health, both metabolic and mental, but our understanding about gut microbes is far from complete. In addition, the plasticity of gut microbes was a novel concept.
Development of the microbiome begins after birth (or as new research suggests, in the womb), which is essential for the immune system and various neural functions. Researchers found evidence that gut microbes are particularly flexible at young ages, while as adults, our bacterial communities remain somewhat fixed, and it is much more difficult to influence change. No exact age has been identified, but evidence suggests earlier is better.
Agnieszka Mika, Monika Fleshner. Early life exercise may promote lasting brain and metabolic health through gut bacterial metabolites. Immunology and Cell Biology, 2015; DOI:10.1038/icb.2015.113
"Gut Microbiome Influenced by Early-Life Exercise." GEN. December 30, 2015. http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/gut-microbiome-influenced-by-early-life-exercise/81252160/.