Innovation That Matters

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Elite athletes' gut bacteria inspire new probiotic research

Sport & Fitness

A team from Harvard University’s Wyss Institute has discovered a link between athlete bacterial compositions and performance following genomics programme.

US Harvard University’s Wyss Institute has discovered a potential link between the healthy gut bacteria found in elite athletes and their overall athletic performance. The Institute recruited large number of elite athletes as part of its sports genomics program to analyse changes in the microbiome that consistently occur in peak endurance, speed and strength performances. These results will be translated into probiotic formulations that, after appropriate safety testing, may help every-day-athletes reach higher performance levels and more efficient recovery.

Research published in recent years has unveiled potential connections between the composition of the gut microbiome and different physiological processes, including overall metabolism, immune and neurological functions, which in turn could affect athletic performance. Beneficial bacteria found in elite athletes could also enhance and reconstitute the gut microbiome in the general population towards improving health. This is why Wyss Institute researchers are comparing gut microbiome bacteria from athletes before, during and after peak performance and subsequent recovery phases with those of non- and every-day-athletes. The field of probiotics is quite a sensitive one as results about their efficacy are often inconclusive, however scientists are trying hard to find the right strain of bacteria that can beneficially tune our immune systems and protect us from disease.

We have seen an influx of discoveries in the medical and technological sector to aid athletes in recent months, with innovations including a wearable patch for fitness junkies that measures glucose levels and hydration, and a muscle activation device that supports a person’s form when exercising. How else can technology assist an individual’s quest for fitness?




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