According to researchers from National Taiwan Sport University and Taipei Medical University, this is the first human clinical trial conducted on the probiotic strain bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum Olympic No. 1 (OLP-01).
They said the strain was derived from an Olympic gold medallist in the women’s 48kg weightlifting category.
Subjects who took the OLP-01 probiotic improved their running speed during the 12 minute Cooper’s test, especially at the 6th, 9th, and 12th minutes.
In addition, their bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum and lactobacillus count increased by 8.63 and nine-fold after the trial.
Funded by the university-industry cooperation fund from National Taiwan Sport University, the double-blind placebo-controlled trial recruited 21 male and female subjects.
They were the middle- and long-distance runners at the university.
Separated into two groups, they took either placebo or OLP-01 capsule for five weeks. The probiotic supplement was provided by Taiwan firm Glac Biotech.
Subjects in the experiment group had to take a capsule after all three meals each day. Each capsule has a probiotic count of 50bn CFU.
During the first three weeks of the trial, they continued with regular training and stopped training during the last two weeks.
The researchers found that while there was no significant difference between the two groups for the 12 min Cooper’s test, a significant difference could be found when comparing the pre and post-trial results within each group.
In the case of the experiment group, they were able to run further and faster after taking the supplement.
For example, the distance they ran at the 6th min was 72 ± 14 m further than pre-trial. The effect continued into the 9th and 12th min, where they ran 116 ± 17 m and 105 ± 16 m further as compared to pre trial. These are all significant outcomes since their p-values were less than 0.05.
Whereas in the control group, their running speed had slowed down by the end of the trial.
For instance, the distance that they ran at the 6th min post-trial was 4 ± 9 m less than pre-trial. By the 12th min, the distance ran was −56 ± 29 m lesser than pre-trial.
Changes in gut microbiota
The experiment group also had a higher count of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum after the trial.
For instance, the count of bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum had significantly increased by 8.63-fold, while lactobacillus count also increased nine-fold in the experiment group.
As compared to the placebo group, bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum in the experiment group consisted of 0.95% and only 0.11% in the placebo group.
This shows that the probiotic supplement had colonised the intestine and thus, leading to an increase in the count of bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum.
There was also a change in microbiota profile, with pathogenic bacteria such as Proteobacteria found less abundantly in the experiment group as compared to the control group.
“It was confirmed that OLP-01 colonised the human intestine, thereby increasing the number of B. longum subsp. longum.
“Based on the above, the five-week OLP-01 supplementation significantly improved the B. longum subsp longum species, increased the abundance of other probiotics, and reduced the numbers of certain pathogenic bacteria in the participants,” the researchers said.
Based on the results, they suggested that the probiotic could be used as a sports nutrition supplement to improve exercise performance.
However, they also acknowledged that the mechanisms in this study were yet to be confirmed.
“Perhaps increasing the duration of OLP-01 supplementation in future clinical trials will produce more significantly different bacterial phase changes and further exciting results,” they said on future studies.
Bifidobacterium longum subsp. longum OLP-01 Supplementation during Endurance Running Training Improves Exercise Performance in Middle- and Long-Distance Runners: A Double-Blind Controlled Trial
Authors: Mon-Chien Lee, et al