A study published in the journal Nature found that modifying the microbiome would be of great help in combating fatigue and predisposing people to physical activity.
End of the year. Meetings everywhere. Buy presents. Organize the parties. Stress. The factors that affect these days seem infinite, which is why the motivation to train and continue with the exercise routine carried out during the year may have vanished.
It is that to the lack of time, the little desire is added. And physical activity ranks last on the list of priorities for many people.
Now, a recent study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and recently published in the journal Nature ensures that the explanation for this tiredness and lack of motivation for physical exercise would be in the intestine.
Specifically, the researchers found that “changing the millions of gut microbes in the microbiome can get people off the couch and motivated to exercise.” At least that’s what happened in the work done on mice.
“Exercise exerts a wide range of beneficial effects for a healthy physiology. However, the mechanisms that regulate an individual’s motivation to engage in physical activity remain incompletely understood, the study authors began to analyze in the publication.
An important factor stimulating participation in competitive and recreational exercise is the motivating pleasure derived from prolonged physical activity, which is triggered by exercise-induced neurochemical changes in the brain.
And given the connection that is known to exist between the intestine and the brain, the researchers decided to delve into that line of research.
The team focused on how and why the gut microbes encouraged the mice to run and keep running. The crux, they saw, is a chemical produced by the microbiome that sends a signal from the gut to the brain, triggering an avalanche of dopamine that is released in the ventral striatum, the “motivation center” of the brain, which in turn triggers the desire to exercise.
And while it’s clear that mice aren’t men, the study pushes a relatively new field of gut-brain interaction into new territory. Can the gut directly influence the brain’s motivations and desires? By looking for the molecules in the gut that stimulate the brain to want to be physically active, the study gave a first positive answer.
The dilemma of exercise and lack of desire
While everyone knows that exercising is good for overall health, and that regular practice helps control weight, lowers the risk of heart disease, improves mental health and mood, and even fights aging and dementia; many times it is difficult to find motivation to do it.
And while psychology was blamed for years as the main culprit, for Agirman and Hsiao, the new study suggests that the gut microbiome could also provide a big motivational boost.
The gut-brain connection is one of the most influential discoveries of the last decade. The brain does not exist in a vacuum. Rather, molecules and hormones in the body can significantly affect its function.
Chemicals released by the liver, for example, boost memory function in aging mice after exercise, generating more new neurons in the dentate gyrus, the “nursery” in the hippocampus, a critical region for memory.
And after remarking that “an important source of these systemic molecules is the gut microbiome,” the experts emphasized: “Their symbiotic microbes thrive within our intestines, helping to digest nutrients and supporting metabolism.”