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Prepare the intestinal environment! Exercise recommended for “intestinal activity” and story of butyrate- producing bacteria

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“Intestinal activity” can be expected to have various effects such as relieving constipation and other common problems. People tend to focus on dietary habits such as eating yogurt and dietary fiber, but in fact, proper exercise habits are also important for improving the intestinal environment.
Here, while paying attention to the relationship between the barrier function of the large intestine, which affects the function of the intestine, and butyrate-producing bacteria (Rakusankin), we will introduce the relationship between the intestinal environment and exercise, and the recommended exercise method to be adopted to improve bowel movements. To do.

Supervision: Professor Yuji Naito (Professor, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine)

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What is intestinal activity?

Intestinal activity is an activity aimed at improving the intestinal environment in order to maintain normal intestinal function.
There are more than 1000 species and 100 trillion bacteria living in the human intestine, and the rich ecosystem “intestinal flora” (intestinal flora) where innumerable bacteria interact with each other while having their own characteristics. Bacterial flora) is formed. These bacteria help digestion and absorption by decomposing food brought into the intestine as food, and the metabolites produced in the process of decomposition influence the functions of mind and body in our lives. I am deeply involved.
Among the bacteria, those that are beneficial to humans are called good bacteria, and the components such as butyric acid (rakusan), lactic acid, and acetic acid that they produce make the intestines acidic, causing the growth of harmful bacteria (bad bacteria). It suppresses the movement of the intestines and activates the movement of the intestines. Therefore, it is expected that increasing the number of good bacteria will bring various health benefits such as relieving constipation.

Expected effects of intestinal activity

By increasing the number of good bacteria through intestinal activity, the following effects can be expected.
・ Improvement and elimination of constipation (healthy stool and reduction of flatulence odor)
・Reduction of abdominal bloating (tummy tension)
・ Improvement of barrier function between intestinal flora and large intestine

Prepare the intestinal environment with daily exercise

What we ingest as food is carried to the back by the peristaltic movement (contraction movement) of the intestine, and in the process, nutrients and water are decomposed and absorbed to become stool and excreted.
The peristaltic movement of the intestine is influenced by the function of the autonomic nerves, and if the function of the autonomic nerve is disturbed for some reason, the movement of the intestine becomes active or slow. When peristalsis is reduced, the stool stays in the intestines for a longer period of time, and as a result of excessive absorption of water, the stool may become stiff and cause constipation.
Exercise is one that can be expected to have the effect of promoting intestinal motility. As a result of investigating the intestinal environment of athletes, it has been reported that there is an increase in good bacteria. In addition, it is said that the intestinal mucosa has receptors for various stimuli such as temperature, pressure, and chemical substances, so giving physical stimuli by exercise leads to stimulation of intestinal peristaltic movements.
By stimulating the body with moderate exercise, blood circulation is promoted and the autonomic nerves are activated, which is thought to lead to promotion of peristaltic movement and relief of constipation.
Here are some recommended exercises to encourage such intestinal motility.


Walking is widely used as an effective exercise for burning body fat, improving constitution, and preventing lifestyle-related diseases, and it is an easy way to do it anytime, anywhere.
In walking, it is important to be aware of the form, unlike the usual way of walking. The line of sight naturally turns forward, straightening the spine and keeping the head high with the image of being lifted from the sky. Bend your elbows and swing your arms while walking to move your center of gravity forward while stepping on the ground with the toes of your hind legs. Regardless of distance or time, let’s aim to continue first according to your physical condition and physical strength.


Stretching stimulates the central nervous system by moving the body and promotes nerve transmission.
Stretching is divided into multiple types, such as static stretching (general stretching) that keeps the body stationary and stretches muscles without using recoil, and dynamic stretching that is performed while moving the body, as typified by radio calisthenics. .. It is recommended that you warm up before other exercises, or do it habitually before going to bed or between desk work.


Yoga is also a type of stretching in a broad sense, and can stretch muscles and joints to increase flexibility. There are various styles of yoga, but for example, power yoga originated in the United States has a considerable amount of exercise due to the combination of stretching exercise and breathing method, and somatic nerves (exercises that control body movements such as sensory nerves that control sensation and contraction of muscles) It is designed to stimulate two nerves). In addition, yoga, which incorporates traditional meditation methods, is also popular as a method of approaching the mind and body and adjusting the autonomic nerves.


It is said that the symptoms of constipation, the number of defecations, and the condition of stools can be improved by massaging the abdomen with a little pressure.
There are various methods of massage, but

(1) Massage in the shape of a “” according to the direction in which the contents of the intestine move (
2) Knead the left and right flanks up and down (
3) Press the lower abdomen upward
. If you do it while taking a bath, it is effective in combination with the warming effect.

Twist exercise

Exercises such as twisting and stretching the abdomen from side to side are thought to lead to training the iliopsoas muscle of the inner muscle for excreting feces. The iliopsoas muscle, which consists of three muscles, is the muscle needed to push stool out of the body along with the abdominal muscles. “Bicycle crunch” is recommended for iliopsoas training that incorporates a twisting exercise. From lying on your back, lift your upper body slightly while lifting your legs, and alternately pull your legs toward your chest as if you were riding a bicycle. It is effective to fold your hands behind your neck and slowly pull them so that your right elbow and left knee, and your left elbow and right knee are close to each other.

Balance of intestinal activity and intestinal environment other than exercise

In order to improve the intestinal environment, it is necessary to increase the number of good bacteria in the intestine by a well-balanced diet, in addition to adjusting the autonomic nerves and releasing stress with moderate exercise.
As a concrete method to increase the number of good bacteria by eating, etc., “prebiotics” that ingest foods containing oligosaccharides and dietary fiber that serve as food for the good bacteria, and foods containing the good bacteria themselves such as fermented foods are used. There are two types of “probiotics” that ingest themselves.
An easy way to check if your bowel activity is working, that is, the condition of your bowel environment, is to look at your stool. I would like to pay attention to the hardness, odor, and color of the stool. If the intestinal flora is in good condition, the stool will have a smooth and soft surface, a sausage-like shape, and a mild odor. In addition, when the good bacteria predominate, the intestines tend to be acidic, so the stool becomes yellowish or yellowish brown, while when the bad bacteria predominate, the stool becomes alkaline and the stool becomes dark.

Large intestine barrier function and butyrate-producing bacteria necessary for improving the intestinal environment

Trouble caused by deterioration of the barrier function of the large intestine

From the perspective of the intestinal environment and bowel movements, we would like to pay attention to the barrier function of the large intestine.
Since many bacteria live in the large intestine, the surface of the large intestine is covered with a thick mucus barrier to prevent these bacteria from contacting and invading the tissues of the intestine. This barrier not only protects the intestines themselves from harmful bacteria, but also acts like a lubricant by coating the stool that passes through the large intestine, which is necessary for smooth stool excretion.
A decrease in the mucous layer of the large intestine means a decrease in barrier function. It becomes impossible to protect the body from bacteria, causing inflammation (enteritis) and obstructing the passage of stool. As a result, diarrhea, loose stools, constipation, and other bowel movements can occur.

Butyric acid is the key to maintaining the barrier function of the large intestine

For the barrier function of the large intestine, getting enough mucus to be secreted is the key to maintaining the barrier function. The key to this is a substance called “butyric acid”. Butyric acid is a type of intestinal bacterium A type of short-chain fatty acid produced by the process of fermentation and decomposition of dietary fiber carried into the intestine by butyric acid bacteria (Rakusankin). It is an important energy source for the large intestine, and about 60 to 80% of the energy required by the cells that make up the mucosa of the large intestine (mucosal epithelial cells) is provided by butyric acid. Since the mucosal epithelial cells of the large intestine are responsible for the absorption of water and minerals and the secretion of mucus, it can be said that butyric acid contributes very much to the function of the large intestine mucosa. In fact, it has been reported that administration of butyric acid promotes mucus secretion in the large intestine * 1, and when butyric acid is given to mice that reproduce the same intestinal flora as patients with constipation, the frequency of defecation and the condition of bowel movements, etc. There are reports * 2 that the movement of the intestines has improved. In other words, butyric acid cannot be ignored in order to maintain the normal barrier function of the large intestine.

* 1 Shimotoyodome, et al .: Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A:
Molecular & Integrative Physiology 125 (4): 525-531, 2000.
* 2 Ge, et al .: Scientific Reports 7: 441, 2017.

Exercise also becomes intestinal activity !! Relationship between butyrate-producing bacteria and exercise

Butyric acid is the source of energy needed by the large intestine. Butyric acid is produced by the useful bacteria (good bacteria) “butyric acid bacteria” that make up the intestinal flora. Increasing this butyrate-producing bacterium is thought to help maintain the barrier function of the large intestine and maintain normal bowel movements.
To increase the number of butyrate-producing bacteria in the intestine, it is important to properly supply the energy source of the butyrate-producing bacteria. Butyrate-producing bacteria produce butyric acid by using water-soluble dietary fiber as food, so the practice of “prebiotics” that keeps in mind the eating habits of eating foods rich in dietary fiber is already in the intestine. It is thought to activate the bacteria and contribute to the maintenance of the function of the large intestine.
Also, improving exercise habits may help increase butyrate-producing bacteria in the intestines.
In a test in which aerobic exercise was continued 3 times a week for 6 weeks while gradually increasing the intensity of exercise from 30 minutes to 60 minutes, targeting people who often sit down. Changes were seen in the composition of the flora, and it was found that the number of bacteria producing butyric acid increased. It has also been reported that the appearance of the intestinal flora returns to its original state when it returns to a lifestyle with less exercise * 3. This suggests that continuous exercise habits may lead to an increase in butyrate-producing bacteria.

* 3 Allen, et al .: Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 50 (4): 747-757, 2018.

[Summary] Exercise is also an important intestinal activity. A style of intestinal activity that suits you

As introduced in this article, intestinal activity through a well-balanced diet and exercise habits is important for improving the intestinal environment.
On the other hand, it is possible that the number of butyrate-producing bacteria in the intestines has already decreased due to an unbalanced diet. In such cases, probiotics that ingest the butyrate-producing bacteria themselves may be a viable option. However, unlike other good bacteria that are often found in popular fermented foods such as yogurt, there are few types of foods that contain butyrate-producing bacteria (such as bran pickles and stinky tofu), and it is difficult to take them on a daily basis through meals. Accompanied by. It is also recommended to use intestinal regulators and supplements containing butyrate-producing bacteria as an easy way to ingest the bacteria.
Please use it as a hint for your intestinal life.

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