Bacteria might just be the key to making us all healthier.
A new study published in the journal Nature Medicine on Monday offers new evidence that there are certain types of microbes present in the digestive tracts of athletes that help their bodies' endurance during exercise. Scientists took a look at a bacteria that is especially common in runners' bodies after a marathon, called Veillonella, NPR explained.
They then introduced that bacteria into mice, and found that those mice performed 13 percent better on an exercise wheel than mice who didn't get the boost. That's a huge effect — strong evidence that Veillonella is actually the cause of better athletic performance, not just its byproduct. This type of microbe actually feeds on lactate, a chemical that builds up in sore muscles and fatigued bodies.
While 13 percent might be a big change in mice, though, it's not confirmed that this bacteria would have the same effect on humans. It's highly unlikely that you could just take a Veillonella supplement to get a boost in your athletic performance, because "it's harder to replicate an effect" in the human body than in mice, said Morgan Langille, a microbiome researcher not involved in the research. But it's still "a really impressive study" that helps us understand more about the tiny ecosystems inside our bodies.
Further research will be necessary before a supplement could be tested on humans, but at least there's hope that someday, exercise won't need to be so much of a slog. Read more at NPR.