The vital importance of exercise early in life should not be underestimated. The University of Colorado at Boulder News Center reported on Dec. 29, 2015, gut microbes are altered by exercise early in life which nurtures a healthy brain and metabolism. Researchers have discovered that the microbial community in the human gut is altered by exercise, thereby promoting healthier brain and metabolic activity during a lifetime.
The findings in this research may offer a window of opportunity to begin to optimize the chances of improved lifelong health. Health at both a metabolic and mental level is influenced by exercise. Now researchers are also exploring the plasticity of gut microbes. Microbes begin to reside in the human intestines shortly after birth and are vitally important for immune system development and many neural functions. Interestingly as many as 5 million genes can be added to a person’s overall genetic profile from these microbes therefore having a lot of power to influence various aspects of human physiology.
Although this diverse microbial community remains somewhat malleable during adult life and can be influenced by environmental factors such as sleep patterns and diet, it has been found by the researchers that gut microorganisms are particularly plastic at a young age. Healthy brain function and anti-depressant effects are seen with a healthy community of gut microbes which also appears to promote healthy brain function and provide anti-depressant effects. It has been observed by researchers that the human brain responds to microbial signals from the gut; however, the exact communication methods remain under investigation.
This study has been published in the journal “Immunology and Cell Biology”. Researchers have found that exercise early in life may actually promote a lifetime of brain and metabolic health via gut bacterial metabolites. The microbial colonization of the gut just after birth is important for the proper development of immune, neural, metabolic, and immune systems. Maintaining a diverse and balanced gut flora which is populated with beneficial bacteria is needed for maintaining the optimal function of these systems.
Although it has been found that symbiotic host-microbial interactions are vital throughout a lifetime these interactions can have more significant and longer lasting effects during certain critical periods of development. It has recently been reported that exercise which begins early in life increases gut bacterial species which are associated with promoting psychological and metabolic health.
In this research, it has been observed that exercise during a developmentally receptive time in life helps to promote optimal brain and metabolic function throughout a lifespan via microbial signals. This connection between exercise, the gut, microbes and brain and metabolic health is intriguing and offers considerations for promoting better overall health for a lifetime from early in life.