Back up Battery of Marathon Runners

By Dr. John A. Lopes

One wonders whether marathon runners havealong lasing battery such as a toy bunnythat is going and going. These long distant runnersuse energymore efficiently.Lactateis produced by the body during exercise.Lactate, a molecule leftover primarily aftersugar and other nutrients are used to produce energy. These Marathon Runners havemore of certain bacteria in the digestive tract that can further utilize lactate“spent fuel”.Usually after exercise lactate builds up in the bloodstream and muscles feel weak andtired.

Dr. G. M. Church at Harvard University and Dr. A. D. Kostic at the Joslin DiabetesCenter compared the gut microbes of people who ran the 2015 Boston Marathon withthose of sedentary people.Veillonellabacteria types in the digestive system can uselactate as a food/energy source. The researchers reportedahigher population ofVeillonella in the digestive tract of Marathon Runners. Thus the abundance of thesebacteria in the gut is significant.

The scientistsfurther tested whetherVeillonellacould impact exercise performance.They gave a group of mice theVeillonellabacteria taken directly from the marathonrunners. They gave another group of micea different type of bacteria that are unable touse lactate. Mice given theVeillonellaran on average 13% longer on a treadmill.Doeslactate formed after exercise in the bloodstream enter the digestive tract so Veillonellabacteria can use and produce more energy? The researchers found that lactate inblood stream of mice can cross into the gut signifying that lactate generated by exercisecan be metabolized by bacteria in the gut.

Olympic trial rowers, the researchers found that the activity oftheseVeillonellagenes,involved in processing lactate,increased after exercise. Veillonella bacteria can alsoconvert propionate to lactate. The scientist found that propionate could also haveenhancing effect on exercise.

Increased exercise capacity is a strong predictor of overall health and protection againstcardiovascular disease, diabetes, and overall longevity.These findings suggeststrategies, such as a probiotic supplement, might help boost the ability to do meaningfulexercise and therefore protectagainst chronic diseases.