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The Importance of Butyrate for our Gut Health and Wellbeing

The Importance of Butyrate for our Gut health and wellbeing. Naturopath Kirily Thomas

Now, it’s possible that you may be asking yourself, “What on earth is butyrate?” after reading the title of this blog.

Well, if you were, I’m really glad you asked that question, as butyrate (pron. byoo·tuh·rayt) is an important compound produced in our gut that supports our gut health. It is also essential for our overall health and wellbeing, including immune function, metabolic health, cardiovascular health and mental health. 

What is Butyrate?

  • Butyrate is an important short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that we can find in our gut along with other common SCFAs such as acetate and propionate.
  •  Although other SCFAs can be more abundant, butyrate is particularly important for the health of our gut, as it is a vital fuel/food source for the cells (colonocytes) that line our large intestine (colon).
  • By feeding the colonocytes, butyrate also gives a little nudge to these important cells to tell them that they need to mop up excess oxygen, which reduces oxidative stress and also reduces the growth of pathogenic bacteria (e.g., E. coli), as they love oxygen rich environments.
  • This helps to reduce inflammation (both in the gut and systemically), and also improves the protective mucosal barrier in the large intestine (amongst other things).

How does our body make Butyrate?

  • It’s made by our superstar beneficial gut flora! It’s such a fabulous, mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship.
  • Our beneficial gut flora (e.g., Faecalibacterium prausnitzii) ferment certain types of dietary fibre for their food, which produces the SCFA butyrate (and other SCFAs) as a by-product,
  • Butyrate is not heavily utilised by the flora in our gut, so they have more than they need, allowing the excess to be passed on to feed the colonocytes. 
  •  If the cells that line the colon get their fill, butyrate is then passed into systemic circulation, where it may exert anti-inflammatory effects and support other functions in the body such as immune, metabolic and mental health.

NBH Fibre, SCFAs and Benefits Al-Qadami et al 2022

How do you increase Butyrate in your body?

  • To support butyrate production, you need to increase particular types of fibre in your daily diet.
  •  Fibre is found most abundantly in unprocessed wholefoods, like veggies, fruit, legumes, seeds and UNREFINED grains.
  • These foods contain different fibre types, such as resistant starch and soluble fibre, and also valuable plant compounds like polyphenols which our beneficial flora also enjoy eating.
  • Certain specific prebiotics also feed the butyrate producing bacteria.

I hope this information has given you some insight into the importance of butyrate for our gut health and wellbeing

Would you like to know how robust the populations of butyrate-producers are in your own gut microbiota?

Would you like to receive advice on how to improve these populations using diet and prebiotic fibres that’s tailored to your unique microbiome “map”?

Please book an appointment with me to discuss if microbiome analysis would be a beneficial assessment to help support your current state of health.

References

1.     van der Hee B, Wells JM. Microbial Regulation of Host Physiology by Short-chain Fatty Acids. Trends Microbiol. 2021 Aug;29(8):700-712. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2021.02.001. Epub 2021 Mar 2. PMID: 33674141.

2.     Yael Litvak, et al., Colonocyte metabolism shapes the gut microbiota. Science 362, eaat9076 (2018). DOI:10.1126/science.aat9076

3.     Hodgkinson K, El Abbar F, Dobranowski P, Manoogian J, Butcher J, Figeys D, Mack D, Stintzi A. Butyrate’s role in human health and the current progress towards its clinical application to treat gastrointestinal disease. Clin Nutr. 2023 Feb;42(2):61-75. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2022.10.024. Epub 2022 Nov 2. PMID: 36502573.

4.     Amiri P, Hosseini SA, Ghaffari S, Tutunchi H, Ghaffari S, Mosharkesh E, Asghari S, Roshanravan N. Role of Butyrate, a Gut Microbiota Derived Metabolite, in Cardiovascular Diseases: A comprehensive narrative review. Front Pharmacol. 2022 Feb 2;12:837509. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.837509. PMID: 35185553; PMCID: PMC8847574.5.     Al-Qadami GH, Secombe KR, Subramaniam CB, Wardill HR, Bowen JM. Gut Microbiota-Derived Short-Chain Fatty Acids: Impact on Cancer Treatment Response and Toxicities. Microorganisms. 2022; 10(10):2048. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms10102048

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