TODAY: Event looks at accelerating sports microbiome research

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - lzf
©Getty Images - lzf

Related tags microbiome therapeutics microbiome Sports nutrition sector Sports Nutrition Summit USA

Evidence continues to accrue backing the effects of the gut microbiota on sports nutrition. A NutraIngredients-USA event today will delve into the issue, featuring presentations by content matter experts.

The event, titled The Opportunity of the Microbiome, is part of NutraIngredients-USA’s Sports and Active Nutrition Summit 2021.  This free event is scheduled for 11 am Central time on February 5.

The event will feature a presentation by Prof. Chad Kerksick, PhD, of Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO.  That will be followed by a presentation by Ralf Jäger, PhD, of Increnovo LLC.  The event will conclude with a panel discussion.

Landmark rugby study

An early landmark study in the field was conducted on Irish rugby players.  Published in 2014, the study looked the at the makeup of the players’ microbiomes and matched them against two non-athlete control groups.  One control group had a ‘normal’ BMI of about 25, while the other fell into the same range did the rugby players, with a BMI averaging about 29, though the rugby players almost certainly had more lean body mass that did the high BMI control group.

The research, which has been cited repeatedly since, found that the rugby players had more diverse guts than did the controls.  They had a greater abundance of Veillonellaceae, Prevotella, Methanobrevicater​, and Akkermansia ​microbes in their guts.

 Those findings helped open the door to more focused studies on the effects of probiotic strains on specific sports nutrition endpoints.  Most of those studies used Lactobacillus​ and Bifidobacterium ​strains, as these are more commercially available and have been found to have good stability and formulation flexibility.  Additional work has been done using spore forming bacteria, including Bacillus coagulans​.These studies have shown boosts in endurance, better nutrient absorption and other important effects.

The exciting thing for product developers in this area is that much of the research done on the effects of probiotics on exercise performance has come only in the past seven or eight years.  Researchers have gone from delineating geographical difference in microbiome makeup to defining in what specific ways the guts of active individuals differ from those of sedentary controls.

Chicken and egg question

Those differences beg a chicken and egg question.  Do those differences arise merely because of the different habits of the host? Individuals pursuing active lifestyles might be engaging more regularly in other health promoting activities such as eating a better diet and getting more sleep, which might give rise to a virtuous cycle of which a more diverse, ‘healthier’ microbiome might be one result.  

Or,  is there some fundamental, perhaps genetic difference between the groups?  Is the greater gut diversity found in the more active groups a causative factor in why they tolerate exercise better and derive more benefit from it than do their more sedentary peers?

Research done in just the past couple of years is looking at just these questions.  Studies have been done on a couple of particular strains sequenced from the gut of a particular successful female weightlifter. In another instance, a company has been founded on research done at Harvard on strains sequenced from the gut of successful athletes.  If these so-far promising efforts are ultimately commercially successful, they will transform the way performance probiotics are discovered, studied and developed.

For more information on this FREE event, click on the tab below.

Jan 28 - Feb 25, 2021   -   Four Online Events


  • The Changing Retail Landscape for Sports & Active Nutrition - Jan 28
  • The Opportunity of the Microbiome - Feb 4
  • Recovery - Feb 18
  • White Spaces in Sports & Active Nutrition - Feb 25

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