Researchers at the Hungarian University of Sports Science studied the gut microbiome, fitness levels and biological age of 80 amateur rowers as they conducted their usual fitness regimes. The study provides further evidence that higher levels of diverse microbiomes were positively associated with improved fitness and a slower rate of ageing. Specifically, the study highlighted that an increase of anti-inflammatory microbiome was crucial to improving overall gut and fitness health. In the world of wellness and personal health management, this is another major step in understanding how our gut is intrinsically linked to the rest of the body, but how does this directly link to our ability to maintain good health alongside slowing down the ageing process?
Lead researchist of the study – Zsolt Radak argues that by measuring the epigenetic markers to determine each participant’s biological age, which are crucial to cell development and function – the researchers could determine the state of cell healthiness. Biological age refers to how old your cells are, rather than the number of years that you have been alive and is quickly becoming a focus point of research into human health. Through this method, we can understand what lifestyles, diets and environmental factors impact our biological longevity, and it seems our fitness is having a profound impact.
“Improving our gut microbiome is the key to good fitness and reducing the rate of our biological ageing”
Whilst we have known that exercise improves the quantity and quality of our gut microbiome, we are now able to prove that it can also reduce your biological age ergo, is the secret to slower ageing. Radak and his team found that “higher levels of anti-inflammatory ‘good’ bacteria were associated with increased fitness”. Anti-inflammatory microbiomes in our gut are crucial for helping our immune system fight a whole host of inflammatory diseases, such as heart disease, arthritis and bowel disease. This goes against previous research that suggests the higher the diversity of gut microbiome the lower the risk of disease. However, whilst diversity is still beneficial, it’s the anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties we need to further examine in order to target specific health conditions.
It must be noted that the participants in the study most probably had a very healthy diet and exercise regimes which would’ve contributed to their improved gut health. However, we can take from this that making better choices in relation to our health and wellbeing can significantly improve our sense of vitality and protect us from life-threatening diseases.
There are many ways of adopting small lifestyle changes that can naturally boost your gut health and immune system, but a mix of both exercise and eating foods full of nutrients is highly recommended. If we are talking about anti-inflammatory foods, then eating things such as green leafy vegetables and berries are pros at keeping inflammatory conditions away. We are quickly learning that inflammation of the gut is the cause of not just obviously serious health conditions, but it can affect your mood and mental health. The best way to keep your gut in good shape is to begin to make small changes to your diet. It may seem daunting, but there are many ways to start your gut health journey, such as setting yourself targets or perhaps attending one of our Gut Health Workshops, where I teach how your gut health has a profound impact on your immune system, emotions, hormones and mental health.
For me, the study conducted by Radak and his team provides much needed insights into the role of the gut, and how we can both improve and better manage our health outcomes. In my role as a scientist and nutritionist I am dedicated to understanding and sharing these important findings in the hopes of helping others to improve their overall health and wellbeing, so stay tuned for more updates like this!
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Kumud Gandhi is a Nutritional Food Scientist bestselling Author, Broadcaster, and Keynote Speaker on the subject of nutritional health for productivity & performance in the workplace. In 2010 Kumud founded ‘The Cooking Academy’ a cookery school that focusses on cooking for nutritional health and wellbeing. Kumud regularly presents to international audiences on a variety of topics such as ‘Eating for Immunity and a Lifetime of Wellness’. She is an expert in the field of Wellness in the Workplace and works with organizations to create transformational change in employee health & well-being through nutrition and health coaching.