What is Butyrate for Gut Health?
Living in our stomachs are a myriad of bacteria, yeasts and other microscopic organisms, this combination of all creatures is known as the microbiome. Each person has a unique microbiome that has a variety of roles, including the creation, control, and breakdown of all the tiny molecules obtained from our diets that support the human body's functioning. Our gut flora, for example, create fatty acids, vitamins, and amino acids that offer a variety of health benefits. These benefits range from a healthy immune system to maintaining the integrity of the stomach lining. Butyrate is one of the reasons why our species' interaction with the microbiome has been termed as "symbiotic": our mutual existence benefits both parties.
- Your body produces butyrate to promote a healthy immune system by building up your gut lining.
- It protects our microbiome and provides numerous other health benefits.
- Maintain your butyrate and gut balance through your diet, exercise, and stress levels.
What is Butyrate?
Butyrate or butyric acid is a naturally occurring substance, it can be found in:
- Animal fats
- Plant oils
- Cow milk
- Breast milk
- Parmesan cheese
- Body odor
- Anaerobic fermentation products (including in the colon)
It has a buttery flavor and a pungent scent to it, and is frequently used in fishing bait. Humans can detect it in amounts exceeding 10 parts per million, indicating that it is a flavor that mammals seek out. In many manufactured foods, it is used as a flavoring ingredient .
To create butyrate, our gut bacteria (specifically butyrate producing bacteria or BPB’s) digest tough plant fibers for us and convert them to a variety of chemical substances, including multiple “short-chain fatty acids” (SCFAs). Diets low in fibre often come with many negative side effects, including a low production of butyrate, maintaining these fatty acids has been shown to have many health advantages in studies.
Butyrate is one of the short-chain fatty acids created by our microbiome. It functions to promote the healthy immune system of the colon wall and protect against some digestive illnesses. Arguably the most important thing butyrate does is supply 90% of the energy the cells of our gut lining need so that they can function properly. These health-promoting chemicals provide the body with a crucial source of energy. In fact they could possibly provide anywhere from 5% to 15% of a person’s daily caloric needs. There are other SCFAs, such as acetate and propionate, but the significant role of butyrate has been studied extensively.
Butyrate deficiencies have been linked to an increased risk of allergy illness and Type 1 Diabetes in children. Butyrate also acts as an anti-inflammatory, it mediates the amount of white blood cells that migrate in the event of an injury as well as maintains the normal function of various tissues in the body. Butyrate has also been shown to have anti-cancer properties especially in the case of colon cancer.
Keeping Your Gut Balanced
It was already mentioned that adding fiber to your diet can do wonders for your gut health due to its relationship with butyrate. But there are quite a few things you can do to help your tummy out even more. Here's a few ideas that might help:
1. Eat a diverse diet
Simply when you eat different foods, different bacteria are present. The more bacteria you have in your stomach the better it seems. Not only does having limited gut bacteria directly link to allergies, it also is linked to many other digestive issues.
2. Limit medications
Antibiotics, hormonal birth control, anti-inflammatories, over the counter pain relievers...all of these medications are great for their specific purpose but if overused can cause real damage to your gut biome via killing its healthy bacteria.
3. Try not to stress
While the mechanics are unclear. It is known that stress can cause all types of havoc on the body. From acne, to stomach aches to mead aches, stress can cause it all. If you're feeling stressed, accept it and move on! Here's some ideas on how exactly you might do that.
4. Add a gut health supplement to your diet
There are so many options of pre and probiotics on the market to choose from. In line with diversifying your diet, adding a gut health supplement introduces tons of new microorganisms to your microbiome that will work together to improve your gut health. If you’ve thought about trying one out be sure to check out this article before doing so.
5. Stay hydrated
Water is life. Water helps with every single function within our bodies. When it comes to gut health, you can say it's what keeps things moving. That being said, I recommend you go drink a glass right now.
With the huge amount of research focusing on the microbiome recently, has come a greater understanding of each of its individual components. While there are still many questions regarding the specific effects of certain substances on our bodies we have far more answers than were once available. It is so exciting that in discovering the functions of substances like butyrate we are able to modify our lives in order to be the healthiest we can be. As time goes on it is likely that we will achieve such a thorough understanding of the relationships our bodies have with the world around us to the point where we will be able to remedy any health related problem.
Written by Kiana St. Onge