Gut Microbiota, Probiotics, and Sport: From Clinical Evidence to Agonistic Performance

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Abstract

Human beings harbor clusters of bacteria in different parts of the body, such as the surface or the deep layers of the skin, the mouth, the lungs, the intestine, the vagina, and all the surfaces exposed to the outer world. The majority of microbes resides in the gut, have a weighty influence on human physiology and nutrition and are vital for human life. There is growing evidence showing that the gut microbiota plays important roles in the maturation of the immune system and the protection against some infectious agents. In addition, there are several well-known effects of exercise on gut physiology. Exercise volume and intensity have been shown to exert an influence on gastrointestinal health status. An estimated 20% to 60% of athletes suffer from stress caused by excessive exercise and inadequate recovery. Supplementing the diet with prebiotics and/or probiotics able to improve the metabolic, immune, and barrier function can be a therapy for athletes. A recent study showed the effects of coadministration of 2 probiotic strains (Bifidobacterium breve BR03 and Streptococcus thermophilus FP4) on measures of skeletal muscle performance, damage, tension, and inflammation following a bout of strenuous exercise. Probiotic supplementation likely enhanced isometric average peak torque production from 24 to 72 hours into the recovery period following exercise. The active formulation also moderately increased resting arm angle at 24 and 48 hours following exercise. In conclusion, selected beneficial bacteria could positively affect athletes undergoing periods of intense training and may assist in the performance recovery.

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