The Healthy Food Guide team believe that making small diet and lifestyle changes brings the best long-term gains. We look at the science behind the headlines and promote a balanced way of eating.

We all know that a regular exercise regime helps us lose or maintain weight, boosts happiness and improves our heart health, but recent research suggests it has further benefits. Here’s why upping your activity can help your brain and gut:

Your brain…

We’ve long known that brain (cognitive) training can be a good way of protecting the memory, but new research suggests that the effects are even greater when combined with intense exercise. A study published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that people who combined brain training with exercise over a six-week period did better in subsequent memory tests than those who only completed cognitive training or exercise programmes.

Your gut…

Our gut microbiome is a hot topic these days, as scientists and experts agree its composition is crucial to good health – and we can improve ours through exercise, says a new study. Research from the University of Illinois found exercise can improve your microbiome even if your eating habits remain the same. The study suggests that the more active we are, the more our levels of butyrate (a fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties) increases. This is good news, as butyrate has a role in the prevention of auto-immune illnesses and some cancers. You’re not off the hook if you have unhealthy eating habits, however: the most improved microbiomes were seen in the participants who were already classified as ‘lean’ and took exercise.