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Microbes in sport


The potential of

microbiota management

in athletes

Elite athletes possess astonishing physical abilities which require a healthy life style and strict diet regimes to reach peak performances. How does this lifestyle impact the gut microbiota and vice versa?

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The human gastro-intestinal (GI) tract harbours several thousands of different microorganisms, the so called gut microbiota (GM). The intestinal microbiota influences metabolic, nutritional, physiological and immunological processes in the human body. It has become clear that the gut microbiota plays a key role in human health and disease. Many factors have been shown to influence the microbiota including antibiotics, diet and exercise.

A sedentary lifestyle is a major contributing factor to morbidity in developed Western societies and is associated with increases risk of numerous “wealth” diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, asthma and cardiovascular diseases. Research has shown that increasing physical activity can offer an effective treatment and preventative strategy for many chronic conditions in which the gut microbiome plays a role. 


Although regular exercise has many health benefits, athletes who are exposed to high-intensity exercise such as runners and triathletes, are also familiar with the disadvantages of intensive exercise. They frequently experience gastro-intestinal complaints such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal cramps and are more susceptible to infections [1].

A small number of studies have examined the role of  exercise in the composition of the gut microbiota. They demonstrated that athletes have a greater microbial diversity (indicating better gut health) compared with control subjects [2]. In addition, it has been shown that probiotic supplementation can reduce the incidence and severity of upper respiratory tract infections in some athletes [3,4].



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The probiotic b2b formulation Ecologic Performance has been developed for athletes 

A recent published publication  investigating the potential role of the gut microbiota in athlete health and performance concludes that: "Optimizing the athlete's gut microbiome to improve athlete health and injury treatment will also produce indirect benefits to athletic performance. Changes to GM, e.g. by probiotics can positively alter body composition through a number of mechanisms. As greater understanding of the complex microbe-human relationship emerges, there is definite potential to positively impact athlete health, injury and ultimately performance [5].





1  Rehres NJ et al. Physiological changes and gastrointestinal symptoms as a result of ultra-endurance running.   Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 1992;64:1-8.

2. O’Sullivan O., Cronin O., Clarke S.F., et al.  Exercise and the microbiota. Gut Microbes 2015;6:131-6.

3. Mormon S., Petriz B., Kajeniene A. et al. The microbiota: an exercise immunology perspective. Exerc Immunol Rev 2015;21:70-9.

4. Strasser B et al. Probiotic Supplements Beneficially ffect Tryptophan–Kynurenine Metabolism and Reduce the Incidence of Upper Respiratory  Tract Infections in Trained Athletes: A Randomized, Double-Blinded, Placebo-Controlled Trial.  Nutrients.2016;8(11).

5. Microbes in sport- The potential role of the gut microbiota in athlete health and performance. BMJ 2017. 




Microbes in sport

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