Have you ever wondered why athletes seem so… healthy? You get the picture – they’re ripped, can run for miles, and can lift a superhuman amount of weight.
But that’s not all – their skin seems to glow, their energy levels are high, and they can mow down tons of food without digestive distress. Why is that?
Small compounds called short-chain fatty acids may be involved. If you haven’t read part one, start there. Today, we’ll be going over strategies for increasing butyrate. Let’s take a look.
What is butyrate again? Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid (a nutrient) that the cells in your colon prefer to use for energy (1).
High levels of butyrate are associated with:
- Regulated gastrointestinal immune systems (2)
- → improved tolerance to food
- → lowered levels of inflammation
- Better cellular health than those with low levels of butyrate
- Improved healing
- Less intestinal permeability than those with low levels of butyrate (3)
Athletes tend to have healthy microbiomes with high butyrate levels (4).
Having enough butyrate is desirable. So how do you increase butyrate in your gut? Let’s take a look.
Here are three strategies for increasing butyrate in the gut. We’ll go over the science behind them in the following pages.
- Eating fermented foods
- Eating resistant starch
- Consuming a butyrate supplement
- Rebalance your microbiome
Food to Eat: Fermented Foods and Resistant Starch
Eating fermented foods confers many benefits (check out our other blogs about fermented foods to learn more).
But one of the most notable benefits of eating fermented foods has to do with the compounds they contain. They contain short-chain fatty acids and organic acids (5).
Fermented foods are high in butyrate. You’re giving your gut the benefits of butyrate simply by eating it (5).
But you’d have to eat fermented foods every day to pack that butyrate punch (which isn’t a bad idea, by the way). Other options stimulate your body’s own production of it.
Resistant starch acts like soluble fiber. It passes undigested to the large intestine, where bacteria can eat them and transform them into short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate (6). AKA, resistant starch turns into butyrate in the gut.
Which foods contain resistant starch, you ask? Potatoes, rice, beans, lentils, unripe bananas, and other foods contain it (7). Here’s your excuse to eat a baked potato every night if you want to.
Another way to increase butyrate in your gut is to consume it in supplement form regularly.
But taking one butyrate pill won’t increase your butyrate permanently – it will only help your gut out while it’s there. So to make a lasting impact, you’ll want to take the supplement regularly.
The Takeaway: Balance Your Microbiome
Butyrate improves food tolerance, regulates inflammation, lowers intestinal permeability, and optimizes energy use. If you want these benefits for good, target your producer of butyrate: your gut microbiome.
A healthy microbiome will produce plenty of butyrate when exposed to enough fiber, resistant starch, and fermented food. Check out our blogs on overcoming dysbiosis to learn how to fortify your butyrate production for good.
Thanks for joining us today! Tag us in photos of your digestive wellness journey on Instagram @igynutrition. See you next time!
- Silva, Ygor Parladore, et al. “The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids from Gut Microbiota in Gut-Brain Communication.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 1 Jan. 1AD, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fendo.2020.00025/full#:~:text=Short%2Dchain%20fatty%20acids%20(SCFAs)%20are%20the%20main%20metabolites,brain%20function%20directly%20or%20indirectly.
- Peng L, He Z, Chen W, Holzman IR, Lin J. Effects of butyrate on intestinal barrier function in a Caco-2 cell monolayer model of intestinal barrier. Pediatr Res. 2007 Jan;61(1):37-41. doi: 10.1203/01.pdr.0000250014.92242.f3. PMID: 17211138. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17211138/#:~:text=Butyrate%20at%20a%20low%20concentration,and%20increases%20inulin%20permeability%20significantly.
- Mohr, Alex E et al. “The athletic gut microbiota.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 17,1 24. 12 May. 2020, doi:10.1186/s12970-020-00353-w https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7218537/
- Shimizu, H., Masujima, Y., Ushiroda, C. et al. Dietary short-chain fatty acid intake improves the hepatic metabolic condition via FFAR3. Sci Rep 9, 16574 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-53242-x
- Lynnette R. Ferguson, Clifford Tasman-Jones, Hans Englyst & Philip J. Harris (2000) Comparative Effects of Three Resistant Starch Preparations on Transit Time and Short-Chain Fatty Acid Production in Rats, Nutrition and Cancer, 36:2, 230-237, DOI: 10.1207/S15327914NC3602_13 https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1207/S15327914NC3602_13#.Utu09hDFKUk