Butyrate: Health Benefits and Side Effects
A new health trend is spreading, in which attempts are made to add as much butyric acid (butyrate) to the diet or to have it produced by intestinal bacteria. Short-chain fatty acids are said to help with weight loss, stabilize blood sugar, improve digestion, and protect against disease. What’s behind the new trend?
Dr. Gail Cresci does research on intestinal bacteria at the famous Cleveland Clinic in Ohio (USA). In a recent article, the gut flora expert discusses how butyric acid or butyrate promotes health and how the body’s fatty acid production can be increased.
The new trend of butyric acid
The butyrate trend is spreading like wildfire across the US on TikTok, YouTube and Co. Influencers are adding sauerkraut to their food, drinking butter and kombucha and taking supplements to boost their butyrate levels.
They expect it to protect against diseases such as depression, prevent cancer and improve gut health.
But what is butyrate and can it really do everything short chain fatty acids are supposed to? Dr. Gail Cresci is an expert in this field and reflects the current state of knowledge on the effects of butyrate.
What is butyrate?
Butyrate, or butyric acid, is a short-chain fatty acid that is produced when certain gut bacteria break down fiber in the colon. Dr. Cresci has studied butyrate for over a decade. “It’s amazing how many beneficial things it does for the body,” she says.
For example, butyrate plays an important role in digestive health as it is the main source of energy for colon cells. About 70% of the energy colon cells need is provided by butyric acid.
Additionally, butyrate supports the immune system, reduces inflammation and is said to help prevent diseases such as cancer. However, most results come from animal studies.
Where is butyrate found?
As the name suggests, butter, cheese, and other whole dairy products are good sources of butyrate. Too much butter shouldn’t be consumed, however, warns Dr. Cresci because butter is high in saturated fat and calories, which can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.
Other external sources of butyrate are prebiotics and related dietary supplements.
Intestinal bacteria produce butyrate
However, there are more natural ways to increase butyrate levels in the body: through fiber. These cannot be broken down by the body itself. Instead, they are broken down by gut bacteria. Some bacteria produce butyric acid.
Increase butyrate levels through diet
The production of butyrate in the intestine can be specifically stimulated by the consumption of foods containing a high proportion of fermentable fibers. According to Dr. Cresci:
Fruits, legumes, vegetables, whole grains, resistant starch (eg, from cooled boiled potatoes and rice).
Fruit to support gut health
According to Dr. Cresci, the following types of fruit are particularly well suited to support the intestinal flora:
Vegetables and legumes to promote the intestinal flora
The gut bacteria expert recommends the following legumes and vegetables to support gut health:
Artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, carrots, chickpeas, garlic, green peas, green leafy vegetables, onions, potatoes, turnips.
Slowly increase fiber intake
Dr. Cresci warns that fiber in the diet should be increased slowly while drinking plenty of water. Otherwise, bloating and constipation may occur.
“Also watch your urine,” advises the scientist. As long as it is light yellow in color, it means the body is sufficiently hydrated.
butyrate and butyric acid preparations
There are dietary supplements that stimulate the production of butyrate. Dr. Cresci recommends checking intake with a doctor. The benefits of these supplements have not yet been scientifically proven.
“The best way to get butyrate is to eat fresh fruits and vegetables that contain soluble fermentable fiber,” says Dr. Cresci. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.