The link between oral bacteria, exercise and health will be examined in a study by University of the West of Scotland (UWS) academics.

The research, funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) and undertaken within the Institute of Clinical Exercise and Health Science at UWS, will look at exercise and its impact on the diversity of the oral microbiome to extend our understanding of how training improves health.

Dr Mia Burleigh, Lecturer in Exercise, Fitness and Health at UWS, said:

“Despite increased awareness of the profound importance of microbes to health, we know little about how health-associated lifestyle factors such as physical activity affect the human microbiome. There is some evidence that exercise modifies the gut microbiome, although the impact on oral bacteria is unknown.”

“The main objective of this project is to therefore establish the effects of exercise training on the diversity and activity of the oral microbiome to extend our understanding of how exercise mediates health.”

The study is part of 27 new research projects funded by the RSE. More than half a million pounds has gone towards funding high-quality research across Scotland in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, mathematics, medicine, arts, humanities and social sciences.

Dr Burleigh added: “Previous studies have shown that athletes are at greater risk of oral disease due to various factors including high carbohydrate diets, exercise-induced dehydration and distress to their immune function. Oral and cardiovascular health are also areas of concern in Scotland, so we hope the research will help us contribute to potentially discovering new therapeutic approaches.”

The research project is a multidisciplinary collaboration between UWS, The University of Pavia (Italy), and The Oral Microbiome (Valencia). The project brings together researchers from the disciplines of exercise physiology, microbiology and medicine.