Intestines with Gut Bacteria on Blackboard

Gut microbes could be the answer to maximising the benefits of exercise as well as helping doctors to personalise preventative treatment for those at risk of type 2 diabetes, researchers have said.

A team from Hong Kong say they have found evidence to suggest that people who have certain microbiomes in their gut may have better health outcomes when they participate in physical activity.

They wanted to find out why different people had such adverse effects to exercise so they carried out a trial that involved 39 men with prediabetes. This meant all the participants had high blood sugar levels and were on the brink of being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The participants were randomly split into two groups. One group was asked to avoid any type of exercise, while the other group took part in a three-month high-intensity physical activity programme.

At the end of the exercise time period, the researchers found 70% of those in the active group had improved their glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, but the other 30% had not. All of the men were of a similar weight at the beginning of the trial.

To further investigate, the research team studied gut microbes in the men and found those who had experienced significant improvements in glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity had specific microbiomes linked to the breaking down of amino acids.

The next stage of the study saw the researchers transplant microbes, taken from all of the human participants in the research, into obese mice.

The rodents which received the microbes associated with better insulin sensitivity during the initial phase of the study, ended up developing better insulin sensitivity and glucose regulation.

There were no changes in the animals who were given the microbes from the men who did not respond to exercise.

Xu added: “[Our study] identifies maladaptation of gut microbiota as a “culprit” for those individuals who do not respond to exercise intervention.

“This is one of the first interventional randomised control trial studies providing clear evidence of the role of gut microbiota on metabolic health.”

The findings have been published in the journal, Cell Metabolism.

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