Gut microbes are well known for their beneficial effects on our overall health. Today we will talk about butyrate-producing organisms which are already present in our guts. Every person has their unique bacterial ecosystem and we need to take good care of them. While one cannot live without food, also gut bacterias need food materials to maintain their presence. Thanks to their digestion ability, they metabolize food components and also produce some beneficial compounds like butyrate.
What Is Butyrate?
Butyrate is a four-carbon short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) that is produced in the gut. The gram-positive anaerobic bacterias, especially the ones that belong Clostridial subphylum that lives in our colon are mainly responsible for the production of butyrate. Besides butyrate, acetate and propionate are the main metabolites that are produced by microbial fermentation of undigestable carbohydrates. Resistant starch and dietary fiber are the main sources of bacteria to produce SCFAs.
These weak acids provide 60-70% of the energy requirement of gut epithelial cells and directly influence their growth and differentiation. Also, they cover 5-15% of the total caloric requirement of our diet. It’s hard to detect butyrate in the portal blood due to its rapid absorption. Butyrate is also an important compound that maintains colon homeostasis.
What Are The Benefits of Butyrate?
Butyrate can influence host health through different mechanisms. While some of the beneficial effects of butyrate on health have been studied, new research about its potential efficacy continues. The most studied important roles of butyrate are;
- Regulation of fluid and electrolyte absorption,
- Production of energy for gut and body cells,
- Reduction of mucosal inflammation and oxidative stress,
- Supporting the intestinal barrier function,
- Regulation of immune system,
- Prevention and inhibition of colorectal cancer,
- Modulation of intestinal motility,
- Regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol levels,
- Fighting obesity
Effects Of Diet On Butyrate
Some types of dairy products such as cheese, butter, and milk compose a direct source of butyrate while foods rich in dietary fiber and resistant starch are the indirect sources. Following a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and pulses is very important to increase butyrate production.
Restricted diet styles such as ketogenic, low carbohydrate, or high protein diets generally lack dietary fiber while experts recommend approximately 30 grams of fiber intake per day. Fermentable carbohydrates are primary sources to produce butyrate since gut bacterias prefer to ferment carbohydrates over proteins.
Since the diet components also affect the gut bacterial environment, to protect butyrate-producing bacterias, following a healthy diet style is critical. According to WHO, this healthy diet includes;
- Consuming balanced energy sources,
- Avoiding excessive fat, especially saturated and trans fat intake,
- Reducing the free sugar consumption to a maximum of 10% of total energy intake,
- Limiting salt intake to less than 5 grams per day,
- More fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and whole grains.
How To Increase Butyrate Levels
Consuming foods that already contain butyrate
Some foods can also contain butyrate. However, the amount of butyrate in foods is very low when it’s compared with the butyrate produced by gut bacteria.
Dairy products (milk, hard cheeses, butter, yogurt, cream) and fermented foods (sauerkraut, pickles) are the natural sources of butyrate.
Consuming high fiber foods to boost butyrate production
Foods containing high fiber can be the best sources to increase butyrate production. Corn, peas, beans, cracked grains, potatoes, and bananas are great sources to get resistant starch.
Also, consuming more plant-based food will help to increase total fiber intake.
An active lifestyle can alter the microbiome independent of the diet. According to studies, exercise increases the butyrate levels in the gut by increasing butyrate-producing taxa.
Butyrate is an important compound that regulates weight gain, lipid metabolism, and also the gut environment. Supplementation of butyrate can be used to improve butyrate levels. Yet, the usage and dosage of the supplement are considerable points because the excessive usage of butyrate can have reverse metabolic effects.
Butyrate-producing organisms such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Anaerostipes, Eubacterium, and Roseburia species are already present in our guts. Besides their butyrate-producing effect, they can show probiotic effects. These bacterias are called next-generation probiotics and they can be helpful to restore the gut without disrupting the beneficial gut microbial ecosystem. The safety and tolerability of these bacteria as well as their influence on the gut microbial environment are the determinative factors of their efficiency.