From go-faster stripes to energy gels، athletes have long sought ways to boost their performance. Now researchers say bacteria might also offer a helping hand، as the Guardian said.
Scientists say they have found that certain species of bacteria in the gut appear to be more abundant in marathon runners after a race. They also claim that when such bacteria were transferred into mice، the creatures showed an enhanced athletic performance.
The team said the link could be down to the way these bacteria break down lactate، a substance linked to fatigue during exercise. Lactate is created when the body uses glucose to produce energy under limited levels of oxygen.
“We have shown that the microbiome may be a critical component of physical performance،” the authors wrote.
However، others said it was too soon to say whether these bacteria would indeed aid performance in humans. The human microbiome: why our microbes could be key to our health Prof George Church of Harvard University، a co-author of the study، agreed but said clinical trials in humans would be conducted. However، if performance-boosting effects were to be found، this could create difficult questions about how to regulate athletes’ use of microbes or the substances they produce، he said.
While previous studies suggested athletes might show differences in the makeup of the community of microbes in their gut – the gut microbiome – compared with non-athletes، the impact of these differences has been unclear.
Writing in the journal Nature Medicine، Church and colleagues reported how they had delved into the issue by collecting and analysing daily stool samples from 15 athletes who took part in the Boston marathon and 10 non-athletic people who did not. Athletes gave stool samples both the week before the race – when they would be expected to do little running – and the week after the race.