Exercise and Prebiotics Produce Stress Resistance: Converging Impacts on Stress-Protective and Butyrate-Producing Gut Bacteria.
The gut microbial ecosystem can mediate the negative health impacts of stress on the host. Stressor-induced disruptions in microbial ecology (dysbiosis) can lead to maladaptive health effects, while certain probiotic organisms and their metabolites can protect against these negative impacts. Prebiotic diets and exercise are feasible and cost-effective strategies that can increase stress-protective bacteria and produce resistance against the detrimental behavioral and neurobiological impacts of stress. The goal of this review is to describe research demonstrating that both prebiotic diets and exercise produce adaptations in gut ecology and the brain that arm the organism against inescapable stress-induced learned helplessness. The results of this research support the novel hypothesis that some of the stress-protective effects of prebiotics and exercise are due to increases in stress-protective gut microbial species and their metabolites. In addition, new evidence also suggests that prebiotic diet or exercise interventions are most effective if given early in life (juvenile-adolescence) when both the gut microbial ecosystem and the brain are plastic. Based on our new understanding of the mechanistic convergence of these interventions, it is feasible to propose that in adults, both interventions delivered in combination may elevate their efficacy to promote a stress-resistant phenotype.