If you want to improve Gut health one of the most important and beneficial things you can do is to increase your levels of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) like Butyrate. In today’s article/video, I’m going to review the many benefits of Butyrate and other Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA), as well as different ways to increase your butyrate levels, I will also review how certain diets adversely affect the levels of your short chain fatty acids.
- What Are Short Chain Fatty Acids
- Why are short chain fatty acids so important
- The benefits of short chain fatty acids
- Natural Methods to increase the levels of short chain fatty acids
What are Short Chain Fatty Acids-
Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA)are produced by beneficial bacteria in your microbiome and problems with the levels of your Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) are another important indicator into the health of your microbiome and health of your gut.
I’m sure you have heard the saying, “If moms not happy or if dads not happy, no body is happy.” Well….When it comes to the the health of gut, If your gut microbiome is not happy, ALL the things that your gut is influences, wont be happy and SCFA are one of the major players that dictate good gut health.
If you have had a stool test showing low levels of certain kinds of short chain fatty acids and you need to improve those levels, not only will THIS video help you understand why those levels are low but IF you visit my website, I have several articles on this topic as well. I will leave a link in the description box where you can learn more about certain lifestyle tips that help improve certain SCFA levels come back low. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are made when the bacteria in your microbiome essentially eat carbohydrates and resistant starches.
After eating resistant starches and carbohydrates, these bacteria are able to make Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA). You see…. The bacteria in your gut, not only produce SCFAs, but the good bacteria also need SCFAs to produce more SCFAs in a mutually beneficial cycle.
And the great thing about SCFAs is that when used from a supplement standpoint, they can be used very effectively to deal with not only gut issues like (diarrhea, constipation, Celiac, Crohn’s, SIBO) but also immune system problems, and brain issues like (brain fog, depression, Alzheimer’s, autism, schizophreniaand other neuro-cognitive diseases. This is the Brain- Gut connection.
Low Carb, Low Starch, Low FODMAP Ketogenic diets Affect the Levels of Butyrate and other Short Chain Fatty Acids
Most of the patients I work with are on some sort of AIP diet, low FODMAP diet, elemental diet because they have IBS, Leaky gut, Crohn’s, Celiac, SIBO for some other GI condition. While these diets all have a benefit, they also come with consequences. When you have restricted carbohydrates (fruits/Vegetables and starches) for too long of a period of time, I often see problems with the levels of your short chain fatty acids. I have run several hundred stool tests over the last 20 years and its not uncommon for levels of short chain fatty acids as low as the levels you see below. This is a recent patient suffering with SIBO and Crohns disease.
What you eat and don’t eat, will influence the kinds of bacteria that populate your gut microbiome as well as the levels of these short chain fatty acids, remember what you eat or don’t eat is feeding or starving your gut microbiome.
One thing I have to remind many of my patients who have SIBO or IBS, IBD and autoimmune disease is that you can’t follow a Low FODMAP diet or low carb diet forever. This can have a devastating impact on the microbiome and consequently your health.
Different Kinds of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) That Are Critical To Health.
Let’s talk about the different kinds of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA), their benefits and then I’ll get into some tips on how you can improve your microbiome to help increase levels of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA).
To make these short chain fatty acids (SCFA), your gut bacteria transform dietary fibers/starches/carbohydrates into Butyrate, Propionate and acetate. Among SCFAs, butyrate has been considered as the most effective SCFA.
Main producers of Butyrate- members of the Firmicutes family are known for making this SCFA. The main producers of butyrate are anaerobic bacteria like Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Eubacterium rectale, and Roseburia spp.
- Butyrate is the main energy source of colonocytes
- Plays a role in metabolic disorder like Insulin resistance
- Produces mucous in the gut lining
- Affects gut motility – by decreasing chloride anion secretion. This helps with diarrhea
- Influences pain in gut (visceral sensitivity)
- Butyrate suppresses lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced NF-κB activation (inflammation)
- Slows growth of cancer cells and triggers Cancer cells to die (autophagy)
- Butyrate promotes the epithelial barrier function
Like all Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA), propionate is another product of the bacterial breakdown of dietary fiber including resistant starches (inulin, oat bran, wheat bran, cellulose, Guar gum, and pectin, chick peas, potato starch.)
Benefits of Propionate include;
- Anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body by reducing nuclear factor κB (NF-κB)
- promotes the epithelial barrier function
- protective role against colon cancer
- Triggers Cancer cells to die (autophagy)
Main bacteria capable of producing Propionate include; Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Lachnospiraceaephyla.
Acetate accounts for the highest percentage of SCFAs produced by your gut bacteria and production of these compounds is integral to gut health.
Benefits of Acetate include;
- Regulator the pH of your gut.
- promotes the epithelial barrier function
Main producers include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, Akkermansia muciniphila, Prevotella spp., and Ruminococcus spp.
10 Main Benefits of Butyrate and Other Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) Summary
- Butyrate and other short chain fatty acids serving as an energy source for cells inside the colon.
- Butyrate and other short chain fatty acids, help boost the protective mucus layer in the gut this is especial important if you have low levels of Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria on stool testing.
- Influence genes that control how cells divide and replicate their DNA). This is why Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) are being studied for their role in cancer prevention.
- Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) influence gut motility
- Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) (in particular, butyrate) have anti-inflammatory effect both in the gut and throughout the entire body.
- Studies show SCFAs can reduce levels of cholesterol and glucose—which would ultimately protect against health problems like obesity, diabetes and insulin resistance
- Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) like Butyrate help heal a leaky gut- butyrate is so essential to gut health that a butyrate deficiency is all that’s needed to develop a leaky gut. One study I read, basically described the gut mucosa receding like a melting ice cap when levels are not sufficient.
- Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) Promote blood flow in the gut- this means it brings vital nutrients and oxygen to the gut. This is super important when the gut is damaged, inflamed.
- Butyrate and other Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) help with food sensitivities and maintaining oral tolerance. Oral tolerance is a term researcher use to explain the immune system’s ability to appropriately “tolerate foods” while protecting the body from bacteria and other harmful compounds. People who have all kinds of reactions to chemicals in the environment and food sensitivities are said to have a “loss of oral tolerance.”
- Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) Minimize the effects of antibiotics.
So, for these reasons, this is why I find stool testing and supplementing with butyrate and other short chain fatty acids so helpful in helping my patients who have chronic health issues. If for some reason, you can’t get tested, What can you do to Help Your Gut Today?
5 Ways To Improve Butyrate and Other Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA)
One way to improve your Butyrate levels is to start supplementing with Butyrate with them- most people with gut problems, Autoimmune problems, Thyroid problems, diabetes, weight gain, SIBO, IBS, Crohn’s, Celiac and most chronic health problems have problems with low levels of short chain fatty acids. While I recommend short chain fatty acids to almost all of my patients with chronic gut and issues, Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) alone are not enough to correct the problem long term- You will need to make dietary changes as well. One of the brands I routinely recommend is made by body bio and its called Sodium potassium Butyrate. You can learn more about it here
Tip #2– Improve the environment of the gut so the good bacteria want to make a home there- You need to think about Creating this gut environment that is inviting to the friendly good gut bacteria. This is where diet plays a star role. To do this you will want to increase fiber and resistant starch consumption, eliminate sugar, artificial sugars like sweet and low, aspartame, eliminate caffeine, you want to minimize and avoid medications that are harmful to the gut microbiome.
The biggest offenders to the gut microbiome will be medications like antibiotics, antidepressants, birth control pills, proton pump inhibitors, laxatives, metformin (which is a medication used to treat type II diabetes). These medications have been shown to wipe out the bacterial diversity which reduces SCFA production by the bacteria in your gut.
Some antibiotics are so powerful that they have been shown to wipe out certain strains of good bacteria for up to two years. It’s better to address the root cause of these problems then to take medications to manage the disease with medications. If you have been on antibiotics, I recommend getting a stool test.
A stool test can show your levels of Butyrate, propionate and acetate as well as the kinds of bacterial strains you are a low in and a variety of other markers that are useful in correcting GI issues.
Remember good health requires a symbiotic relationship between gut bacteria, a diet high in vegetables, resistant starches, and Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA)
I find many of my patients benefit from supplemental fiber. I use Fiber plus with many patients as it contains both soluble and insoluble fiber (resistant starch)
Tip #3 part of improving the gut environment includes increase the amount of resistant starches in your diet.
If you don’t know what resistant starches are, you can watch a video I did that explains what they are how they benefit the gut. From a dietary standpoint Resistant starches come from inulin, oat bran, wheat bran, cellulose, Guar gum, and pectin, chick peas, potato starch.
If you have SIBO and you can’t handle fiber and resistant starches, you will also find a bunch of tips on what kind of resistant starches you should start off reintroducing back into the diet when you are ready.
Tip #4- If you don’t have histamine intolerance/Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Consume fermented foods a few times a week and supplement with probiotics. There is plenty of research that shows taking probiotics supports gut health and improves the microbiome. Many probiotics are quite effective in helping prevent gut inflammation and other intestinal problems.
Tip #5- Take Fish oil- Studies show that Fish oil has been shown to increase levels of SCFA, they support and improve the brain-gut axis, they help maintain the intestinal wall integrity and that they can help probiotics “stick” to intestinal cells and boost bifido bacteria levels (study)– Everybody should be taking omega 3 essential fatty acids.