We all know that exercise is good for our health. But did you know that it can also have a positive impact on your gut health and wellness?
That’s right! – research has shown that there is a link between gut microbiota, exercise and mental health. So if you’re looking to boost your gut health, getting active and applying mindfulness is a great place to start.
But it’s not just any old exercise that will do the trick. Researchers have found that elite professional athletes tend to have a higher gut microbial diversity, likely because their training requires both moderate and intense exercise. This combination produces key metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids, which are beneficial for gut health.
Wholesome Health and Fitness Coaching at Limitless Gym Hong Kong
Clients who come to us are often feeling stuck and frustrated. Some of us never find the workout or diet that works for us, even though we’re putting in the effort. (We’ve all been there!) This usually happens because we don’t see the results we want in terms of our body composition, health or wellness.
With a Functional Medicine approach at Limitless Gym Hong Kong, we help our clients get to the root of the issue by taking a more comprehensive look into their systems. We believe that true change comes from within, so we focus on things beyond what they do in the gym and kitchen. Often times, these discoveries range from understanding what might be hindering cortisol management to what might be causing physiological effects from a poor relationship with food – and these factors are not mutually exclusive.
Before we go into actionables, let’s establish some common ground…
What is gut health?
From top to bottom, gut health covers the well-being of our entire digestive system – the parts of our body that break down food into nutrients. Every part of the gut has a different purpose, and various colonies of microorganisms help decompose food so that it’s more digestible. For example, there are many microbes in the human gastrointestinal tract (GIT) that form a barrier against infection, provide support for intestinal walls, and assist with metabolic processes.
What does gut microbiota do?
Gut microbiota is involved in the barrier functions and in the maintenance of its homeostasis. It provides nutrients, participates in the signalling network, regulates epithelial development, and affects the immune system. Considering the microbiota’s ability to respond to homeostatic and physiological changes, some researchers proposed that it can be seen as an endocrine organ
Studies on exercise and gut health
Many human studies have found that moderate to vigorous exercises such as running, cycling and resistance training can lead to a number of benefits, including better physical and mental health, and overall wellness. Doing aerobic exercises for just 18-32 minutes a week, coupled with resistance training three times a week, could make a difference in your gut bacteria population. *see references below
Check Your Gut’s Healthiness
Here are three tips from Limitless for a quick gut health check you can do anytime and what actions you can take regardless, so that better gut health doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming.
- Stool – frequency, presence of pain, color, shape, texture… (While this may sound unappetizing, it is what medical professionals check for when examining patients.) Here is a chart that will help.
- Stomach discomfort – while it is normal to feel a little bloated and gassy after a big meal, persistent bloating and unexplained pain might mean that there’s something going on. Other factors to consider are unexplained diarrhoea, constipation and pain. Speak to your doctor and a GI specialist
- Gut transmit time – How quickly food progresses through your digestive system can give you valuable information about the state of your digestion. A slow digestive process may mean that you’re constipated, while a fast one might indicate that you’re not absorbing nutrients efficiently. Generally, 24-48 hours is a good starting point. (pro tip: try this with beets, look for red/purple color. Be sure to also record results and compare)
Boost gut health in and out of the gym
- Exercise! Striking the ideal balance between exercising enough to reap benefits and too much exercise that puts stress on the immune system is key.
- Chew! As we chew, digestive enzymes are produced, which help break down the food further and make digesting easier. The act of chewing also triggers the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. This regulates pH levels to make the stomach more acidic and help break down food.
- Check-ins! As Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Start paying attention to how you’re feeling and making better decisions about your health and wellness.
Give your gut the attention it deserves and make wellness limitless!
🙌 Want personal coaching in integrating gut health and functional medicine into your training and nutritional lifestyle?
Let’s get started! Contact Limitless Gym Hong Kong here.
*Available in-person in Hong Kong and remote from wherever you are
Exercise Modifies the Gut Microbiota with Positive Health Effects
Interplay Between Exercise and Gut Microbiome in the Context of Human Health and Performance
A Prospective Metagenomic and Metabolomic Analysis of the Impact of Exercise and/or Whey Protein Supplementation on the Gut Microbiome of Sedentary Adults