LA Times: Marathon runners get a boost from the bacteria in their guts

The secret to a healthier life may lie in the guts of elite athletes. Scientists who studied marathon runners discovered a type of bacteria that flourished in their digestive tracts. Pre-clinical studies resulted in a 13% improvement in endurance due to the unique properties of this novel species. Feeding off of lactate produced in the muscles, this bacteria converts the lactate into short-chain fatty acids that in turn act as fuel during exercise and reduce inflammation.

The LA Times article covered research published in the journal Nature Medicine that highlights the connection between the unique microbiome of elite athletes and improved performance. The study lead by Dr. Jonathan Scheiman while doing his post doctorate at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering is the foundation of the innovation currently being developed at FitBiomics.

It’s the notion of mining the biology of super-healthy people and translating that into nutritional interventions for everyone else...
— Dr. Jonathan Scheiman

In addition to interviewing Dr. Sheiman, CEO of FitBiomics, and Dr. Kostic, scientific advisor to FitBiomics, the article captures the opinions of independent microbiologists who have no affiliation with the study or company. Both George Weinstock from the Jackson Laboratory in Farmington, Conn. and Paul Cotter, from Ireland’s University College Cork, voiced optimistic positions on the possibilities for this research to impact the future of how we work out and boost endurance.

If it’s possible that we can increase a person’s exercise capacity by making a simple modification to their microbiome, perhaps by introducing Veillonella as a probiotic, this could have a potentially medically important impact in reducing risk of chronic diseases.
— Dr. Aleksandar Kostic