Butyrate

Cube of butter

by Catherine M. Haug,  Mar 2015; updated April 2019 (Image, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Butyrate (butyric acid) is a 4-carbon fatty acid from which butter gets its name. It is one of the most important short chain fatty acids produced in the gut by bacterial fermentation of fiber and resistant starch. It is important for detox processes.

Butyrate

Butyrate has been around in the mammalian gut for so long that the lining of our large intestine has evolved to use it as its primary source of energy. It does more than just feed the bowel, however. It also has potent anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. So much so, that investigators are using oral butyrate supplements and butyrate enemas to treat inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. Some investigators are also suggesting that inflammatory bowel disorders may be caused or exacerbated by a deficiency of butyrate in the first place.” (1)

In general, short-chain fatty acids including butyrate have the following beneficial actions in the human colon (2):

  • stimulate blood flow to the colon;
  • increase nutrient circulation;
  • inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria;
  • help us absorb minerals;
  • help prevent us from absorbing toxic/carcinogenic compounds.

See also Butyric acid: an ancient controller of metabolism, inflammation and stress resistance (4), and Chris Kresser on Resistant Starch (5).

Sources of butyrate:

Food sources:

  • Butter is the most abundant food source (as tributyrin), and is one of the reasons I highly recommend butter over margarines and vegetable oil spreads.

Supplemental sources:

  • Butyrate capsules are best keeper in the freezer because butyrate has a strong aroma of rancid butter.
  • Tributyrin powder: This is my preferred form (the natural form found in butter and the superior form of butyrate for digestion, absorbability, and bioactivity). I use ButyCaps brand; it has banana flavor added, and is held in micro-encapsulated granules, with a single serving in an individual packet (sachet). I dump the contents into my smoothie each morning.
  • However, perhaps the best source of butyrate is from bacterial action on resistant starch, because it promotes the growth of this good bacteria which in turn maintain the health of the colon. Production of butyrate in the colon is a result of bacterial action (fermentation) on soluble fiber and resistant starch. See Butyrate-producing Bacteria…in Swine (6A) and in-vitro (6B).

Do not heat or crush any form of butyrate.

References:

  1. Whole Health Source:  (wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/12/butyric-acid-ancient-controller-of.html)
  2. Precision Nutrition on Resistant Starch (precisionnutrition.com/all-about-resistant-starch)
  3. Study of butyrate-producing bacteria:
    1. in swine: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3675948/, and of
    2. butyrate-producing bacteria fed different carbohydrates in vitro: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23909466
  4. Whole Health Source:  (wholehealthsource.blogspot.com/2009/12/butyric-acid-ancient-controller-of.html)
  5. Chris Kresser: chriskresser.com/how-resistant-starch-will-help-to-make-you-healthier-and-thinner
  6. Study of butyrate-producing bacteria:
    1. in swine: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3675948/, and of
    2. butyrate-producing bacteria fed different carbohydrates in vitro: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2390946

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