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Illustration of a digestive system and a curled arm showing bicep muscle. Text: Your gut and muscle growth

How Gut Affects Muscle Growth

Your Gut and Growing Muscles

Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your body, whether it’s strength training, swimming, tai chi or walking.

What’s more, the benefits of exercise — from losing weight and reducing your risks of serious disease to strengthening your bones and muscles — are many and well-proven.

We already know exercise changes our gut for the better based on the production of butyrate, short-chain fatty acids that protect your gut from more harmful bacteria.

Did you know the health of your gut microbiome may affect the growth of your muscles too?

The Antibiotic Angle

Researchers at the University of Kentucky put this question to the test by taking an interesting approach using 42 female mice.

During the nine-week trial, some mice were fed water laced with a variety of low-dose antibiotics, no friend to the gut, while others were fed plain water. During this period all test animals had access to running wheels to encourage exercise.

No surprise, the muscles of mice that were fed antibiotics didn’t grow nearly as much as the group protected from antibiotics, although both sets of test animals exercised for about the same amount of time.

Of course, these results provoke new questions regarding the kinds of antibiotics used and whether the gender of the test animals really made as difference.

The fact remains that there is a connection between the presence of specific gut bacteria and muscle growth, according to Dr. John McCarthy, and associate professor at the University of Kentucky.

McCarthy cited a recent study in Nature Medicine that linked endurance for elite marathon runners and mice to the abundance of a specific species of gut bacteria (Veillonella).

The goal here isn’t limited only to improving athletic performance. This growing body of knowledge will help to identify substances made by gut bacteria to promote muscle growth among people dealing with cancer or aging, says study co-author Taylor Valentino.

The Lesson Learned

For now, no matter what researchers learn about muscle growth, our take-home message remains pretty simple…

Even after taking in all of this research, we’re still learning about the wide-ranging benefits the gut has to offer as well as the many problems associated with antibiotics.

If you have concerns about what to do when you’re prescribed an antibiotic by your family physician, be sure to take a look at our recently updated antibiotic protocol for guidance.

Antibiotics have a depleting effect on the bacteria in your gut that keep your immune system strong and healthy. One of the easiest and most effective ways to protect and support is to take a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, formulated with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families, about two hours before that scheduled antibiotic.

That extra time gives those beneficial bacteria to make it to your gut and protect your gut, the center of your immune system.

Resources

The Journal of Physiology

The Physiological Society

Harvard Medical School

MedlinePlus

Clinical OMICs

Nature Medicine

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