When it comes to maintaining a healthy gut, probiotics have been in the spotlight for their role in promoting gut health. Yet, there’s another overlooked hero in the realm of gut health that offers benefits like repairing gut lining, reducing gut inflammation, and managing gastrointestinal issues like bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

A recent study uncovered the positive impact of almonds (yes, almonds!) on gut health by highlighting their ability to enhance gut symptoms and gut microbes through the increase of a specific gut compound called butyrate. Butyrate has been linked to various gut-friendly advantages, with some experts suggesting it may be more effective than probiotics. So, what exactly is butyrate and how does it work? The benefits of butyrate extend beyond just gut health. Let’s delve into a crash course on butyrate, its perks, and ways to maximize its benefits for gut healing.

In this article
1 What is Butyrate?
2 Health Benefits of Butyrate
3 How To Get More Butyrate

What is Butyrate?

“Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) produced by the gut’s microbial fermentation of dietary fibers,” explained Dr. Sara Mesilhy, a gastroenterologist. In simple terms, butyrate, also known as butyric acid, is a product of the natural fermentation process in our gut. When we consume fiber-rich foods, our gut bacteria break down the dietary fiber in the colon, generating butyrate. “Butyrate plays a role in controlling inflammation, supporting the intestinal barrier’s integrity, and regulating energy expenditure,” Dr. Mesilhy elaborated. Juliana Tamayo, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian, added that butyrate acts as an energy source for cells in the colon, enhancing their functionality, supporting the growth of beneficial gut microbes, and helping to maintain a balanced gut microbiome.

Health Benefits of Butyrate

Butyrate not only aids gut health but also offers numerous advantages for overall human health, as indicated by research findings.

Improves gut health

According to Mary Sabat, MS, RDN, LD, a nutritionist and ACE-certified personal trainer, “Butyrate regulates the growth and function of colonic epithelial cells, which line the colon. Beyond supporting colon cell health, butyrate aids in maintaining a balanced immune response, fortifying the gut barrier, reducing the risk of intestinal permeability, and alleviating gut issues like leaky gut syndrome. Research has shown that increased butyrate production promotes regular bowel movements, signifying a well-functioning digestive system.

Enhances sleep

Juliana Tamayo noted, “A healthier gut can lead to improved sleep quality.” Studies suggest that butyrate promotes sleep and plays a crucial role in enhancing sleep onset and quality by increasing non-rapid-eye movement sleep (NREMS) and deep sleep duration.

Reduces inflammation

Chronic inflammation poses a significant health risk, potentially causing damage to cells, tissues, and organs if left unchecked. The gut microbiome plays a pivotal role in regulating inflammation, not only within the gut but throughout the body. Butyrate steps in with anti-inflammatory properties to help mitigate gut inflammation, modulate immune cell function, and decrease the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. These actions can benefit conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Increases insulin sensitivity

“Butyrate can positively impact metabolic health,” according to Sabat. It can enhance insulin sensitivity, improve glucose metabolism, regulate appetite and body weight, and consequently support overall metabolic well-being.

Supports brain health

The gut-brain axis connects the gut microbiome with the brain, linking emotional and cognitive brain centers with intestinal functions. Short-chain fatty acids like butyrate play a role in this connection by promoting the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), vital for neuronal growth and survival, neurotransmitter modulation, and neuronal plasticity crucial for learning and memory. Dr. Mesilhy highlighted that butyrate can safeguard the brain, enhance its adaptability, and offer neuroprotective effects, supporting optimal brain health.

How To Get More Butyrate

To increase butyrate levels, focus on consuming fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes that serve as substrates for butyrate production by gut bacteria. Mary Sabat advised gradually boosting fiber intake to allow gut bacteria to adjust gradually and prevent digestive issues.

Sabat also recommended including resistant starches found in foods like green bananas, potatoes, and legumes as they reach the colon without full digestion in the small intestine, supporting butyrate production through fermentation. Additionally, fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, or kimchi play a crucial role in butyrate production due to their beneficial bacteria content. In some situations, butyrate supplements may be utilized to support gut health by providing direct butyrate delivery to the colon, bypassing the need for bacterial fermentation. Consult with a healthcare provider before considering supplementation, as a balanced diet can typically supply the necessary butyrate levels.

Please consult a doctor or a mental health professional before beginning any treatments. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *