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The gut microbiota, dietary extremes and exercise
  1. Georgina L Hold
  1. Correspondence to Dr Georgina L Hold, Institute of Medical Sciences, Aberdeen University, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK; g.l.hold{at}abdn.ac.uk

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The GI tract is colonised by trillions of bacteria in a complex community collectively referred to as the gut microbiota. This metabolically active ‘foreign’ body contributes to host metabolism and immune system development and changes in its composition have been implicated in many chronic diseases including obesity and diabetes. Under normal conditions, this metabolically active ‘foreign’ body exists in a state of symbiotic tolerance (eubiosis) with its host and remains relatively stable over time. One of the major influences on the gut microbiota, at least in terms of our ability to modulate it, is diet. There is growing awareness that diet and lifestyle choices have a profound impact on the gut microbiota.1

The relationship between gut microbes and nutritional status is complex and has been a long-standing subject of intense debate. The composition of the gut microbiota is known to determine the efficacy of energy harvest from food.2 In turn, the composition of the diet we consume is known to affect the microbial community composition.3 To date, most attention has focused on the impact of dietary excess and obesity-related disorders and their effect on the microbiota. The relationship among the gut microbiota, exercise and related dietary changes has received much less attention. Loss of community richness/biodiversity has been demonstrated in obesity studies while increased diversity, which has …

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