As part of its management of the Drummond Memorial Fund, BNF is providing one grant in 2020, of £5000, to help a newly-appointed university lecturer or research fellow in human nutrition to undertake the pilot work needed to generate data that can be used as the basis of a more substantial grant application. We are pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2020 BNF Drummond Pump Priming Award is Dr Luciana Torquati, Lecturer in Nutrition in the Department of Nutrition Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter. A summary of Dr Torquati's project can be found below:

The role of gut microbiome on endurance exercise capacity

We have more bacteria in our gut than cells in our body, indicating how important they are to our everyday life and health. Gut bacteria help us digest food and absorb nutrients. They are crucial to break down fermentable fibre, as we are not able to do this ourselves. The digestion or fermentation of this fibre creates metabolites with anti-inflammatory and health promoting properties. The most abundant metabolite is acetate.

Bacterial groups and their metabolites seem to be different in very active compared with sedentary people, suggesting exercise and gut bacteria could be related. Animal studies show that deprivation from fermentable fibre decreased both acetate and mice’s ability to keep running. This ability or performance was improved when fermentable fibre was re-introduced. Acetate increased too. Because of this and acetate’s ability to improve blood flow, it is possible that changing the amount of fermentable fibre (and acetate production) could affect exercise performance. However, we do not know if this happens in humans.

This study aims to understand if by increasing fermentable fibre and acetate production we can affect exercise performance. This will help us understand new roles of our gut bacteria, and may build evidence to justify the use of specific diets and supplements to ‘boost’ exercise endurance.

“Our understanding of the gut microbiome and its role in our physiology is growing every day. I am very excited and grateful to BNF Drummond Memorial Fund for the opportunity to further explore new functions of our gut microbiome. This research will allow me to collect preliminary data to support future funding to understand the role gut bacteria play in exercise capacity”.

A related press release can be seen here.