In the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympics, when an injured Kerri Strug stuck her famous one-leg landing from the vault (her other ankle was badly twisted in a previous round) to clinch a gold medal, she proved just how gutsy great athletes can be.
Now researchers actually have gone and probed athletes' guts to discover what goes on in there - and they've found that all that exercise (plus a diet with lean protein and fiber-rich fruits and veggies) builds a super-healthy mix of intestinal bacteria, essential for regulating blood sugar, keeping the immune system strong and protecting you from cancer and other chronic diseases.
Testing a team of Irish rugby players, researchers found that the athletes had an abundance of a bacteria - A. muciniphila - scrumming in the mucus lining of their intestines; it's known to help prevent obesity and diabetes. Seems that exercise is good for you, in part, because it helps promote a positive environment for your gut bacteria. And you don't need to join a rugby club.
Gut-Friendly Activity: We suggest you aim for 10,000 steps a day or the equivalent (1 minute of aerobics equals 100 steps), and 20-30 minutes two to three times a week of strength-building, using stretch bands or hand weights.
Gut-Lovin' Diet: Lean protein from skinless poultry and fish such as salmon, plus fiber-rich PREbiotics (that's what makes good probiotics thrive), found in bananas, asparagus, onions, garlic, jicama, barley, berries, tomatoes and more.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com.