This NYT article got me thinking about other ways to boost gut diversity, ways that have nothing to do with actual ingestion of different bacterial strains or even prebiotics and polyphenols (read: plants) that feed them. The researchers found significantly higher gut microbe diversity in exercisers (albeit extreme ones) vs. non-exercisers.
Correlation. Zero causation, and lots of confounders, rendering this whole article kind of a non-starter.
The study discussed, comparing rugby players to couch potatoes, suffers from more than a few design problems. First of all, how do you control against the possibility that rugby players are simply rolling around in the dirt more than the non-exercising control group? I mean, just look at the game itself. They’re covered in mud, inhaling and inadvertently swallowing millions of soil-based organisms while crushing and pummeling each other on the pitch.
And that’s leaving out the fact that athletes tend to have special diets with higher amounts of protein (known to change gut bacterial populations), representing a whole ‘nother variable that has broad potential to skew results.
In short, nice idea guys, but all you did was piss me off. More refinement needed, and a laboratory setting wouldn’t hurt either. It’s very simple: Just two groups kept at the clinic, ON THE SAME DIET, for christ’s sake. Exercise one of them, let the other play cards and call their moms all day. Analyze their crap before and after the exercise period. Do you really need me to tell you this?