Expecting mothers spend nine months doing everything they can to give their babies the best chance in the world. As it turns out, one of the things mothers might want to do is exercise. Not only is it incredibly important to keep the mother healthy during pregnancy, but it could be beneficial for baby down to the cellular level.
A new study published in Immunology and Cell Biology has found that exposing babies to exercise in the earliest stages of life changes the microbes in their gut for the better, giving an advantage to brain development as well as starting them off with a healthy metabolism.
In recent years, scientists have been learning more about the microbes in our digestive tracts — collectively called the gut microbiota — and how they affect overall health and even neurological function. When these populations of tiny organisms go askew, it can have a big impact. These microbes have been linked to obesity, Type 1 diabetes, and autoimmune diseases.
This current study found that pregnant mothers have the ability to influence the microbiota of their unborn child through physical.
"Exercise affects many aspects of health, both metabolic and mental, and people are only now starting to look at the plasticity of these gut microbes," senior author Monika Fleshner explained in a news release. "That is one of the novel aspects of this research."
The study was done while looking at mice and noted that the offspring of physically active mothers had gut microbes that were significantly better than those who were born to more sedentary mothers.
"Future research on this microbial ecosystem will hone in on how these microbes influence brain function in a long-lasting way," added the paper's first author, Agniezka Mika.
There are other questions that will need to be answered down the road as well, including how the microbiomes in human infants compares to those seen in mice, when the gut microbiota are most easily influenced, and if it is possible to make the microbiota in adults more plastic as well in order to reap some of those amazing health benefits.
Pregnant women should consult their OB-GYN to discuss what physical activity they are able to do before starting an exercise program.
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