Sedentary Life Changes Gut Microbes: Stool Collection Evidence
Sedentary Life Changes Gut Microbes: Stool Collection Evidence

Sedentary Life Changes Gut Microbes: Stool Collection Evidence

Reminder card on sofa with handwritten text Get Up and Move, to beat sedentary lifestyle and move around

A new study examined how a sedentary lifestyle impacts the composition and function of gut microbiota. The researchers compared fecal bacterial and fungal microbiota between sedentary individuals like office workers and more active controls like train inspectors. All subjects were from the same company in China. The study found that inactivity leads to reduced microbiota diversity and altered composition. It also affects predicted microbial functions like amino acid and nucleotide metabolism.

How was the study conducted?

The study enrolled 99 active inspectors and 88 sedentary officials from a railway company as subjects. Fecal samples were collected for 16S rRNA and ITS gene sequencing to analyze bacterial and fungal microbiota respectively. Questionnaires assessed lifestyle factors. Bioinformatic tools like PICRUSt2 predicted microbial functions. Sedentary individuals had over 8 hours daily sitting and under 5000 steps.

What were the key results?

The sedentary group had lower alpha diversity of gut microbes, indicating reduced variation of species. Taxonomic analysis showed differences in specific bacteria and fungi between the two groups. The sedentary microbiota was enriched in potential pathobionts like Firmicutes but depleted in beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium. Functional prediction pointed to decreased nucleotide biosynthesis and altered amino acid and phospholipid metabolism in the sedentary fungi.

What was the significance?

The study highlights the extensive impact of a sedentary lifestyle on gut microbes. The reduction of microbiota diversity in inactive individuals may disturb the gut homeostasis and predispose to diseases. The enrichment of some opportunistic microbes implies microbiota dysbiosis. The altered microbial functions suggest effects on key metabolic pathways related to immunity, infection risk, and neurohealth. Overall, inactivity appears to disrupt the symbiotic microbiota-host relationship.

What were the limitations?

The study had a small sample size restricted to mostly males from one company. Dietary data was self-reported. Functional predictions need validation. Causation cannot be confirmed from this observational study. Mechanisms linking inactivity to microbiota changes remain unclear. Still, these results add to the growing evidence on lifestyle influences on the microbiome.

Physical inactivity negatively affects our gut microbes in terms of reduced diversity, unfavorable changes to the microbial community, and altered functional capacities. These effects may mediate the increased disease risks associated with a sedentary lifestyle. The findings reinforce the importance of an active lifestyle for maintaining a healthy microbiota and preventing microbiota-linked diseases. Small steps like taking regular short walks and reducing sitting time could already induce beneficial microbiota changes.
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Xu L, Li W, Ling L, Zhang Z, Cui Z, Ge J, Wang Y, Meng Q, Wang Y, Liu K, Zhou J, Zeng F, Wang J, Wu J. A Sedentary Lifestyle Changes the Composition and Predicted Functions of the Gut Bacterial and Fungal Microbiota of Subjects from the Same Company. Curr Microbiol. 2023 Oct 13;80(12):368. doi: 10.1007/s00284-023-03480-0. PMID: 37831112; PMCID: PMC10575810.

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