The Microbiota and Sports Performance

Get to know the Microbiota, an essential ally for athlete performance.

  1. What is the Microbiota?
    1. What is the microbiota in charge of?
    2. Which are the most abundant bacteria?
    3. Lactobacillus.
    4. Bifidobacterium.
  2. A balanced Microbiota and the athlete: a winning team.
  3. How to improve the microbiota?
  4. Bibliography

01 | What is the Microbiota?

Microbiota y Rendimiento Deportivo

The Microbiota is a set of living microorganisms that live inside us and that have many beneficial effects for health. This is made up of bacteria, fungi, pills and some viruses and are found in different parts of the human body, such as:

  • The intestine.
  • The mouth.
  • The skin.
  • The lungs.
  • The urinary tract.

01.01 | What is the Microbiota in charge of?

Important studies supported by the WHO (World Health Organization) certify that a balanced Microbiota performs very varied functions in our body related to very important processes for any person.

  • Improves the quality of the digestive process and improves the impermeability of the intestinal wall.
  • Modulates and strengthens the immune system.
  • Combats the proliferation of some harmful bacterial species that cause pathological conditions.
  • They produce more than 50% of the neurotransmitters that regulate mood.
  • Control cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • They are involved in the synthesis of important vitamins.
  • They reduce free radicals and their effects on aging.

01.02 | What are the most abundant bacteria?

The two most present and studied bacterial strains that must exist in adequate quantities are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.

Lactobacillus

They have the ability to adhere to the intestinal wall and thus prevent other harmful bacteria from colonizing key places near the enterocytes or cells of the small intestine, creating possible diseases.

Bifidobacterium

This type of strain, specifically the Longum species, has the ability to stimulate the immune system, improve skin conditions and balance psychological imbalances of different kinds.

02 | A balanced Microbiota and the athlete: a winning team

Microbiota y Rendimiento Deportivo

As Jonathan Scheiman, a postdoc in George Church's lab at Harvard Medical School, puts it, "we are more bacteria than humans".

"Bacteria in our gut affect our energy metabolism, making it easier to break down carbohydrates, protein, and fiber. They're also involved in inflammation and neurological function. So maybe the microbiome could be relevant for applications in endurance, recovery, and even mental toughness".

And it is that the Microbiota is of vital importance for any human being, but especially in the case of the athlete.This has much higher physiological requirements in many aspects that are directly related to the functions of these microorganisms

  1. The food intake of an athlete should be higher than that of a person with less activity, with which the digestive processes are more demanding for the body.
  2. The nutrient absorption processes carried out by the Microbiota must be more effective to recover the muscle and the body in general after physical activity.
  3. The vitamin needs of an athlete are higher than those of a sedentary individual and the synthesis of these molecules is largely produced by our probiotic bacteria.
  4. The production of neurotransmitters related to sleep depends, in large part, on a good balance of our bacteria.
  5. The immune system works more in an athlete, so a good modulation of it is very decisive in their performance.

03 | How to improve the Microbiota?

Microbiota y Alimentación Vegetal

The truth is that it is not easy with the rhythm of life that we currently lead to find good balances of the Microbiota in the majority of the population, especially in more industrialized civilizations.

That is why trying to maintain certain habits will help the “good” bacteria to keep those that can cause us a health problem under control. And this is essential for athletes who aspire to improve their performance and general well-being.

  • If the basis of our diet is based on foods of plant origin it will be easier for our bacteria to increase in number and thus be able to carry out their protective functions.
  • Maintaining good wake-sleep rhythms, adapting our circadian rhythms as much as possible to our routine, undoubtedly favors our Microbiota as well as countless of metabolic processes that have to do with the biological clocks that exist within each of our cells.
  • A good level of hydration daily, not only in sporting events, ensures that these microorganisms are in a suitable environment to balance.
  • There are already advanced food supplements made with probiotics and prebiotics to help restore the bacterial balance inside us and they are of great help in many treatments of a different nature.

For all these reasons it is crucial to understand that, currently and in the coming years, the Microbiota is and will be one of the main avenues of research in the field of medicine and physiology.

04 | Bibliography

  • WGO Practice Guideline: Probiotics and prebiotics http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/guidelines/global-guidelines/probiotics-and- prebiotics/probiotics-and-prebiotics-spanish# World Gastroenterology Organization (WGO)
  • No guts no glory: Harvesting the microbiome of athletes – American Chemical Society. Accessed December 3, 2020. https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2017/august/no-guts-no-glory-harvesting-the-microbiome- of-athletes.html
  • LeBlanc JG, Chain F, Martín R, Bermúdez-Humarán LG, Courau S, Langella P.Beneficial effects on host energy metabolism of short-chain fatty acids and vitamins produced by commensal and probiotic bacteria Microb Cell Fact. 2017;16(1):79. doi:10.1186/s12934-017-0691-z.
  • RELMAN, David A. The human microbiome and the future practice of medicine. Jama, 2015, vol. 314, no 11, p. 1127-1128.
  • LARRICK, Jasmine W.; MENDELSOHN, Andrew R.; LARRICK, James. Beneficial gut microbiome remodeled during intermittent fasting in humans. Rejuvenation Research, 2021, no ja.
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