What is Butyric Acid?
Butyric acid, also known as butyrate, is one of three short-chain fatty acids produced in the body’s large intestine. Butyric acid coincides with two other short-chain fatty acids, including acetate and propionate. Together, the three acids account for approximately 83 percent of the short-chain fatty acids while presenting an approximate molar ratio of 20:60:20 in the colon and stool.
Butyric acid foods contain plant oils and animal fats. It is formed in the gut from bacterial fermentation of dietary fiber coming from certain vegetables, fruits, and grains. Butyric acid foods containing animal fats include raw milk (especially of goat, sheep, and buffalo), butter, ghee, and parmesan cheese.
Butryic acid is a colorless liquid that is soluble in water. It has a pungent taste with a sweet aftertaste. However, it smells very bitter and unpleasant. Considered the main energy substrate of the colon’s endothelial cells (coloncytes), butyric acid is important for several physiological processes and homeostasis, including gut microbiota health.
3 Benefits of Butyric Acid on Gut Microbiota Health
Science has determined several benefits of butyric acid, mainly focusing on gut microbiota as this seems to be the area of the body that reaps the most significant rewards. This would be logical since butyric acid comes mostly from foods, and fermentation of foods, in the gut microbiome.
Gut microbiota, in essence, is equivalent to the immune system. In fact, the majority of your immune system resides in the gut, and your microbiota protects against microbial invaders like viruses and bacteria that cause disease. Gut microbiota acts as a metabolic organ breaking down indigestible food components, degrading toxic food components such as oxalates, and synthesizing vitamins and amino acids. Following are three benefits of butyric acid for gut microbiota health.
NO. 1 - BUTYRIC ACID ALLEVIATES GASTROINTESTINAL SYMPTOMS
Several studies have proven positive impacts on patients with functional, as well as inflammatory, bowel conditions when including butyric acid. Functional bowel disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cause symptoms such as abdominal pain and constipation or diarrhea. Taking butyric acid leads to significant reductions in IBS pain, as well as improvements in bowel movement normalization. Supplementation with butyric acid on inflammatory bowel conditions, like Chron’s disease, has shown a reduction of inflammation and increased glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant that reduces oxidative stress.
NO. 2 - BUTYRIC ACID PREVENTS AND TREATS COLON CANCER
An intriguing benefit of butyric acid is its potential for preventing and treating colon cancer. Studies have shown that it can inhibit the growth and proliferation of colon cancer cells. Fermentation of high butyric acid foods increases its gene-regulatory activities in cancer cells causing them to undergo apoptosis (cell death). Perhaps this is why recent news declares the death of cancer by a high fat diet. After all, high fat diets like the ketogenic diet does rely on butyric acid for its health benefits – especially on inhibiting cancer.
NO. 3 - BUTYRIC ACID PROMOTES WEIGHT LOSS
Though early in studies, research has shown potential of butyric acid for weight loss in people with diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. People with these conditions have a different composition of gut microbiota than slimmer, healthier people. One study showed a butyric acid foods and supplementation significantly reduced obesity, as well as insulin resistance. Keto studies have also shown butyrate’s influence on fat loss.
Focus on Eating More Foods with Butyric Acid
To naturally increase the production of short-chain fatty acids in your body, focus on eating more butyric acid foods. This includes raw milk, grass-fed butter or ghee, parmesan cheese, as well as fiber-rich vegetables, and fruits. By eating high butyric acid foods, you will promote better gut microbiota health which, in turn, will increase short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. If you feel you need a little boost, you may also supplement with a butyric acid supplement such as organic inulin.
You may also be interested in learning about the most beneficial probiotic foods in this article: 17 Probiotic Foods to Strengthen Your Gut Microbiome.