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How a Gut Bacteria May Give Athletes Their Edge

Ever wonder what gives professional athletes that extra edge? You can stop the PED jokes because the answer may lie in special bacteria naturally produced in the bodies of elite athletes.

In fact, elite athletic performance may be linked to overall gut health.

This doesn’t mean you are born with this bacteria and out of luck if it’s not present in your body. However, Veillonella, the super bacteria we are referring to, is not found in inactive people or those who don’t frequently exercise.

Either way, this bacteria enables high performance athletes to exercise longer and harder than those who don’t frequently exercise.

Here, we take a look at just what this bacteria does to give athletes a boost in performance.

How This Gut Bacteria Helps Marathon Runners

According to the study, a large capacity for exercise is a strong indicator of good overall health and can help protect against diseases and disorders.

In turn, researchers set out to find what it is that allows elite athletes to endure rigorous exercises.

By examining the fecal matter of Boston Marathon runners before and after the race and comparing the samples to those of inactive people, researchers were able to find Veillonella.

Almost immediately, this microorganism stood out as a differentiation between those who are active and those who are inactive.

But what is it that this bacteria does that gives athletes an edge?

According to the study, Veillonella acts as a “metabolic engine” in the body that breaks down acid related to muscle soreness. Specifically, this bacteria eats lactic acid, the post-workout build up that you complain about when your muscles are sore or tight.

By using lactic acid as a food source, this bacteria can prevent lactic acid from building up and hindering exercise.

Without a lactic acid build-up, elite athletes who produce this bacteria can exercise longer and harder, helping them to progress and fine-tune their craft.

Going forward, the researchers who conducted this study hope to use Veillonella to help aid those with metabolic disorders.

By giving those with metabolic disorders the boost they need to effectively work out, researchers hope that it will be enough to prevent diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

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Ian Roden

Ian Roden

Writer and expert

A Fordham University graduate, Ian majored in communications and media studies with a focus in journalism and a minor in anthropology during his time at college. Here, he wrote for the university newspaper ranked top ten in the nation.

A competitive athlete for most of his life, Ian has spent almost a decade working as an ocean rescue lifeguard in New Jersey. Within that role, he has competed in endurance sports competitions against other lifeguards for the last 8 years.

As a lifelong surfer, Ian spends most of his spare time in the ocean regardless of the time of year. He also enjoys distance running, photography, and frequently spending entirely too much money on concert tickets.

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