The gut microbiota - the community of hundreds of trillions of microorganisms living in our digestive system that perform a range of essential functions for our health - is a constant source of new and interesting content.

Now, new research published in Cell Reports suggests the reason why Western lifestyle may reduce the variety of bacteria and alter the overall composition of gut microbiota is because it limits bacterial ability to be transmitted from human to human.

Results published in the October issue of mBIO magazine showed an imbalance in the ratio of the two largest groups of microorganisms in the human gut (Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes) in favour of Bacteriodetes, while the overall bacterial load and diversity was similar between patients and controls.

According to a new study recently published in Gut, however, the benefits of exercise may not end there. Researchers suggest that frequent exercise may also play an important role in our whole-body health by – directly or indirectly – contributing to the diversity of our gut microbiota.