Butyrate & Gut Health: What Is It And Why Should You Care?
If you haven’t heard of butyrate producing bacteria for gut health, you’ll probably be hearing a lot about it — soon. Research indicates that gut health is not only crucial for your digestive system, it is also important for your overall health.
Butyrate Table of Contents:
- An Optimal SFCA
- Role in Immunity
- Gut Health
- Leaky Gut
- Butyrate Vs Probiotics
- Best Butyrate Supplement
- Where To Buy Butyrate
Butyrate: An Introduction
Approximately 100 trillion microbes — mostly bacteria, but also fungi and archaea — live in the gastrointestinal tract. (They are collectively called gut flora or gut microbiota and not including butyrate.)
These microbes are essential for digestion and extraction of nutrients, which of course is essential for life. But science is showing that the role of microbes extends beyond the gastrointestinal system. They may play a big role in overall health.
For instance, imbalances in gut microbiota (dysbiosis) have been linked to many conditions, including various infections, obesity, atherosclerosis, hypertension, heart failure, type 2 diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. 1,2
And of course, dysbiosis is also associated with many gastrointestinal diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.3
Although the exact reason why gut flora affects overall health is unknown at this time, studies suggest postbiotics like butyrate play a big role.4
What is Butyrate And Why Does Harvard Call it the “Optimal” Short Chain Fatty Acid?
Butyrate is such an important postibiotic that Harvard calls it the “optimal” short chain fatty acid.
That’s because butyrate has been found to be “more potent” and provides more health benefits than other short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), particularly when it comes to colon health.
In fact, research suggests that butyrate is the most effective SCFA for the inhibition of histone deacetylases (HDAC) activity. HDAC inhibitors have shown to be effective at preventing or treating colorectal cancer.5,6
It’s not easy to come up with a butyrate definition that includes all the health benefits of this nutrient. Suffice to say that butyrate, along with acetate and propionate, are the three main SCFAs shown to provide many health benefits.
They are the “waste products” of intestinal fermentation, created when beneficial bacteria eat dietary fiber inside your colon.
These bacteria then excrete SCFAs and other postbiotics.
Butyrate SCFA: The Optimal Short Chain Fatty Acid
Butyrate SCFA, the optimal short chain fatty acid, has received considerable attention for its beneficial effects on gastrointestinal health. It has also been shown to help strengthen the immune system and balance the inflammatory response in the colon.7,8
This is amazing, considering that butyrate is the least abundant SCFA produced in humans.9 Below is an estimation of the percentage of each SCFA produced through intestinal fermentation:
- Acetate: 60%
- Propionate: 25%
- Butyrate: 15%10
Though only 15% of butyrate SCFA is produced, it provides an estimated 60% to 70% of the energy requirements of epithelial cells of the colon.11 These cells are essential to your health as they prevent dangerous substances from “leaking” into the bloodstream.
More about that in a minute.
Role In Protecting Your Immune System
The role butyrate plays in protecting your immune system is particularly important. As you know, your health and your life hinges on a properly working immune system to fight off dangerous invaders in the body.
T-cells are particularly important in this regard. Your T-cells don’t just attack antigens randomly. Rather, they circulate until they find their specific antigen. (They’re like a missile honing in on its exact target.)
T-cells depend on regulatory T-cells to modulate the immune response. They help keep T-cells on target so that they don’t start attacking non-dangerous substances.
When there are not enough regulatory T-cells, the body can attack and damage healthy cells and even its own tissues. This is what occurs in autoimmune disease.
Studies indicate that butyrate promotes the formation of regulatory T-cells, which moderate the activity of T-cells. This calms and quiets the immune system, preventing it from overreacting to non-dangerous substances.12
And butyrate is particularly effective in regulating the immune response inside your gut. Studies show that butyrate tells other aspects of your immune system — such as pro-inflammatory cytokines, dendritic cells, and macrophages — to halt their attacks on the gut wall. This allows the gut to repair itself.13
Butyrate Gut Health: The Hidden Key To Lasting Gut Health?
It is butyrate’s role in gut health that has probably gotten the most attention, and for good reason.
According to the National Institute of Health, 60 to 70 million people in the US suffer from at least one digestive disease.14 Some of the most common digestive diseases include chronic constipation, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticular disease.
These diseases are unpleasant, often painful, and even life-threatening in some cases. Fortunately, research is showing that butyrate might help relieve the symptoms of many digestive diseases.
For instance, chronic inflammation of the digestive tract is a common feature of Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel disease, and other digestive conditions.
Gut inflammation certainly contributes to the distressing symptoms of these conditions, making recovery difficult or impossible.
But butyrate can help.
Studies suggest that butyrate may have an anti-inflammatory effect in the intestine, which can ease the symptoms of digestive disorders.15
Another common feature of digestive disease is diarrhea. Again, studies show that butyrate may prevent certain types of diarrhea, though the reason for this effect is unclear.
Plus, studies suggest butyrate may be particularly effective at treating ulcerative colitis, a condition characterized by chronic inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the digestive tract. Studies show butyrate may reduce the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and may even prevent the progression of this disease. 16
SCFAs, such as butyrate, have also been shown to have antibacterial properties, which may help treat gastrointestinal infections. Plus, butyrate is an important regulator of gut flora composition.17
So, what does all this mean for you?
Well…studies strongly suggest that butyrate is crucial for gut health and that you should do all you can to make sure your colon has a continual supply of butyrate. (More about that later.)
Butyrate For Leaky Gut: End Leaky Gut For Good!
Butyrate for leaky gut is also something researchers are studying. Leaky gut is a condition in which toxins and other harmful substances “leak” into your bloodstream. This can not only lead to digestive issues, but it can also contribute to many different health conditions and diseases.
Research shows that butyrate may help prevent leaky gut by securing the integrity of your gut membrane. The gut membrane is composed of epithelial cells that line the colon wall.
This creates a barrier between the contents of your gut and your bloodstream. Amazingly, the gut membrane keeps dangerous substances from seeping into your bloodstream, while still letting food and nutrients through. This is possible because there are certain gates in the gut membrane that allow only certain substances to go in and out.
That’s how it’s supposed to work…and most of the time the gut membrane does an excellent job. But if the gates become weak, however, they can let harmful substances into your body. (These harmful substances include bacteria, toxins, undigested pieces of food, etc.)
This condition is called “leaky gut.”
These harmful substances can create a host of health problems if allowed into your bloodstream. Thankfully, butyrate may play a role in supporting the gut barrier. In fact, research has shown the butyrate can “repair and enhance” the barrier function of colonic epithelial cells. This of course helps support the strength of those “gates,” making leaky gut less likely. 18
Butyrate IBS: Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Butyrate
The clinical research studies on butyrate and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) are also compelling.
According to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, IBS is “the most common functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorder.19
Unlike inflammatory bowel disease, inflammation does not appear to play a major role in IBS, though some of its symptoms can be worsened my intestinal inflammation. There is no known cause of IBS, and it’s symptoms include:
- Abdominal Cramping
- Stomach Pain
- Urgent Bowel Movements 19
Typically, patients with IBS suffer from a combination of these symptoms, rather than just one of them. Also, some IBS patients suffer just mild flare-ups of these symptoms, while others experience frequent, severe symptoms.
Studies indicate that butyrate may have a dramatic effect on the symptoms of IBS, showing that butyrate may:
- Reduce symptoms of infection in the digestive system: This can help prevent the death of gut cells. 21
- Control the PH level in your gut, keeping these levels low: This prevents bad bacteria from overrunning your microbiota because they cannot survive in an acidic environment. 22 (An imbalance of good and bad bacteria inevitably affects gut health and can lead to IBS.)
- Supports the health of epithelial cells lining the intestine: This can help ease many of the distressing symptoms of IBS. 22
Butyrate Metabolism: The Hidden Secret Behind Fast Metabolism
This all makes sense for digestive health, you may be thinking, but how does butyrate increase metabolism? Well…your gastrointestinal system plays an important role in metabolism. And studies indicate that butyrate may help increase metabolism which, of course, can help you lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
Case in point:
A 2009 study at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center (Louisiana State University) tested butyrate for its effects on insulin sensitivity and metabolism. Using mice as their subjects, researchers added sodium butyrate (a form of butyrate) to their high-fat diet.
Butyrate was shown to increase energy expenditure and induce mitochondrial function. (Mitochondria are often described as the “powerhouse” of cells because they help turn the foods we eat into energy for the cells.) Increasing energy expenditure and inducing mitochondrial function increases metabolism.24
Glucose metabolism is also an important component of weight control. To metabolize glucose well, your cells need to be able and ready to absorb glucose. If cells cannot absorb glucose efficiently, a condition known as “insulin resistance,” glucose builds up in your bloodstream.
Excess glucose circulating in your bloodstream triggers excess insulin, which can lead to excess fat storage. (Insulin is a fat storage hormone.) This increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and encourages weight gain. And research indicates that butyrate may improve glucose metabolism.25
Butyrate Benefits: Healthy Gut Equals a Healthy Life
We’ve already looked at a few butyrate benefits in this guide…enough for you to discover that a healthy gut equals a healthy life. But here are a few more astounding butyrate health benefits.
Butyrate: Ulcerative Colitis Benefits
According to several studies, butyrate ulcerative colitis benefits are many. Ulcerative colitis is one of two forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The other is Crohn’s disease.
It occurs when your colon and/or rectum become inflamed, creating sores on the lining of your colon. It can be extremely painful.
Symptoms of ulcerative colitis include:
- Bloody stools
- Abdominal pain
- Rectal pain
- Weight loss
IBD is an increasingly common disease. An estimated 3 million US adults reported being diagnosed with either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease in 2015, up from the 2 million who reported the same in 1999.26
Typically, those diagnosed with the disease suffer recurrent relapses followed by flare-ups of symptoms. There is no medical cure for ulcerative colitis, but there are treatments that can lessen the severity of symptom flare-ups.
Research indicates that butyrate may relieve some of the symptoms of this disease.
As previously noted, inflammation of the colon and or rectum is the key component of this disease. So, there have been several studies focusing on the effect of butyrate on colonic inflammation.
And the results are promising. Researchers in several studies observed the anti-inflammatory effects that butyrate has on the colon.27,28,29
This is very good news for those suffering from ulcerative colitis!
Butyrate: Autism Benefits
Butyrate and autism has also been a focus of attention for researchers. Autism is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. It is considered to be a “spectrum” disorder, meaning that there is a wide range of symptoms — and severity of symptoms — that people experience.
According to Mayo Clinic, some of these symptoms can include:
- No response to name
- Incessant repetition of words or phrases, with no understanding of how to use them in a sentence.
- Resistant to affection
- Avoidance of eye contact
- No emotion expressed
- No understanding of social interaction
- Performance of repetitive movements.30
Autism in an increasingly common disorder. In 2018, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that an estimated 1 in 40 children have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. (This is up from the agency’s previous estimate of 1 in 59).31
Research indicates that butyrate may offer some hope for autism.
It’s long been known that butyrate has a positive effect on mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are energy centers inside your cells, including those present in your brain.
In fact, nerve cells in your brain require a lot of energy, so they are especially dependent on proper mitochondrial function. Studies suggest that butyrate not only improves brain function in general, but it also enhances the mitochondrial function in boys with autism. (Mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with autism spectrum disorder.) 32,33
This, of course, may improve their cognitive function.
Research also suggests that butyrate may positively affect the gut microbiome and the gut-brain access, altering gene expression in the brain to help support cognitive function.34 This, by the way, may help many neurological conditions, not just autism.
Butyrate: Weight Loss Benefits
Butyrate for weight loss is another area scientists are studying. Weight loss is a big issue for millions of people. The Centers for Disease Control reports that more than 40% of people in the US are obese.35 Statistics shows that obesity can lead to many serious health conditions, including:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Several types of cancer
- Heart Disease
- Kidney Disease
- Fatty Liver Disease
- High blood pressure
- Gallbladder Disease
- And more
This study suggests that butyrate not only supports the metabolism, but it also aids weight control/weight loss in other ways. In general, mice given butyrate showed improved:
- Body fat percentage
- Fasting glucose/insulin, insulin sensitivity
- Energy expenditure, fat oxidation
- Mitochondrial function/biogenesis.36
Other studies support these findings.37
In addition, several studies indicate that butyrate and other SCFAs may release gut-derived satiety hormones, which can reduce hunger and reduce food intake.38,39
Taken together, these studies suggest that butyrate may improve all aspects of weight loss/control, from hunger to insulin resistance to body fat percentage.
Butyrate for anxiety (much like citicoline for cognitive health) is another focus of researchers, as anxiety remains a huge — often emotionally crippling — condition for many people. An estimated 40 million adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder.40
There are several different types, each with their unique symptoms. Some general symptoms of anxiety include:
- Heart palpitations
- Feeling on edge
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling overwhelming fear not related to any identifiable threat.41
Studies indicate that butyrate may improve mood-related symptoms, such as those present in anxiety. Chronic anxiety and other mood disturbances have long been associated with an imbalance of good and bad gut bacteria (dysbiosis) We know this because high fiber diets that increase butyrate production were found to improve mood in both rat studies as well as human volunteers.42
In another study, researchers discovered that an increase in beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, the kind promoted by butyrate, significantly decreased anxiety symptoms in study participants.43
The exact mechanism by which gut bacteria influences the mood is not clear. However, scientists theorize that the gut “talks” to the brain through the vagus nerve.
As many studies have shown a correlation between gut inflammation and mental health, it has been suggested that gut inflammation sends a distress signal through the vagus nerve to the brain, triggering anxiety.44
Butyrate Sources: the Best Ways to Get Butyrate?
Until recently, the best butyrate sources are fibrous foods fermented in your colon. This is an inefficient process that creates many digestive issues, though. There is a better way that is simple, easy, and effective at delivering butyrate to your colon where it can go to work supporting your health. We’ll discuss this shortly, but first, let’s talk about butyrate foods.
There are not many direct sources of butyrate foods. Dietary sources of butyrate are mostly produced from animals that eat grass and other fibers, mostly red meat and dairy products. This is because butyrate is produced by consuming fibrous foods. When we consume these animal products, we obtain butyrate without needing to ferment the fiber ourselves.
Butyrate Rich Foods
Butyrate rich foods include:
- Cow’s, sheep’s, and goat’s milk
- Red meat
Butyrate in foods / Butyrate Producing Foods
But even “rich” sources of butyrate in foods offer only trace amounts of this nutrient. This isn’t enough to get the full health benefits of butyrate. I will show you how to get enough health-promoting butyrate in your colon in a moment.
The other way to get butyrate is to eat butyrate-producing foods, such as fruits/vegetables, beans/legumes, seeds/nuts, and fermented foods. These are called prebiotics, as they induce the growth of beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms.
Butyrate: Prebiotics & Fiber
As we discussed earlier, butyrate is one of the waste products produced by dietary fiber (prebiotics) you consume. It works like this:
- You consume fiber
- And take probiotics (good bacteria) supplements several times a day
- Wait for both to travel through your entire digestive system, until they get to your lower colon
- When they get to your lower colon, bacteria digests the fiber. This is called “fermentation.”
- After the bacteria digests the fiber, they excrete butyrate and other short-chain fatty acids.
Butyrate: Are Probiotics Enough?
By the way…taking probiotics (supplements that contain beneficial bacteria) will not spur production of butyrate. Probiotic bacteria, along with the beneficial bacteria in your gut, needs to digest the fiber you consume in order to excrete butyrate.
Butyrate Side Effects
The only butyrate side effects occur when you try to obtain enough butyrate solely by eating lots of fibrous foods. As previously mentioned, butyrate is the least abundant short-chain fatty acid produced through fiber consumption, and butyrate-rich foods contain just trace amounts of this nutrient.
Trying to get more butyrate the traditional way — through eating loads of vegetables and other fiber foods — will create painful and embarrassing gas, bloating, and other gastrointestinal issues.
The best way to get butyrate is through a dietary supplement. But there’s a problem…
Best Butyrate Supplement: Viscera-3
There are no true butyrate supplements available. That’s because butyrate by itself is a “stinky” nutrient that most people wouldn’t want to take. Also, butyrate is considered to be an “unstable” molecule.
This means that it breaks down and dissolves long before it gets to the colon. As you’ll remember, the fermentation of fiber that produces butyrate occurs in the colon, which is exactly where butyrate needs to be to do its job.
However, a new breakthrough method allows scientists to attach 3 butyrate molecules to 1 glycerol molecule. The result is TRIbutyrate, a formula shown to transport butyrate directly to the colon.45
My favorite supplement that contains TRIbutyrate is Viscera-3. The superior form of TRIButyrate in Viscera-3 is time-released directly into your colon. This ensures you’ll always get enough butyrate to promote gut health. Plus, TriButyrate is three times more powerful than the butyrate created by eating fiber.
Viscera-3 also contains the SLIMGut Earth Minerals Matrix™ and the SLIMGut Garden Blend™. These have a potent effect on gut health, leading to less gas, constipation, and bloating. They also have a positive effect on weight loss. All this without having to increase your fiber intake!
Viscera-3 With the Superior Form of Butyrate (TRIButyrate) Reviews
Users are raving about the gut health benefits of Viscera-3. Here are just a few of them:
Salt Lake City, UT
At 64 I have suffered from digestion issues for years, especially if I ate too many greens, like spinach or even beans, I would get really painful bloating and constipation. It really made sense when you talk about how things actually ferment in your gut, it’s not fun. I have tried everything and nothing has done what Viscera-3 has done. I can finally get my greens in without worry about the pain and gas. I have finally talked my husband into trying it and I am more than happy to report his gas is also much reduced. It’s made our house a more pleasant place.
I never thought I would fall in love with a supplement this quickly but boy Viscera-3 is the real deal and I swear by it everyday! I used to have a pretty loud belly and have been known for bad painful gas. Not pleasant! Viscera-3 has made such a big difference. Far less bloating and gas has reduced quite a bit. Hard to explain but I feel lighter. Thank you Jonathan for making this for us “gastrointestinally challenged” 🙂
Kansas City, MO
I’ve been a nurse for 26 years, so I pay a lot of attention to what I put into my body, and I am always hesitant about supplements. But I have to say after doing my own in-depth research on the formulation, the ingredients, especially the well studied patented version of Tri Buytrate, are really top notch. Both me and my husband definitely have seen our bowel movements improve and much less bloating and gas. We have both stopped with the fiber supplements and don’t spend nearly as much money on probiotics anymore. Thank you!
Des Moines, IA
Our whole family swears by Viscera-3! We all suffer from various digestion issues and get sick way more than we should. This is exactly what we have been searching for. Truly a gift from god, bless you Jonathan and the team for putting this together, really is a life saver for our entire family. We all have more pep in our step these days. And family movie night is not nearly as stinky as it used to be 🙂
Buy Butyrate: Where to Find Viscera-3, The Best Butyrate Supplement
With Viscera-3, transporting butyrate straight to your colon to fix your digestive bathroom issues is quick and easy. Ordering it is quick and easy, too. Simply click the link today to say “goodbye” to your bathroom issues!
Butyrate Research & Citations:
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24- Gao Z, Yin J, Zhang J, Ward RE, Martin RJ, Lefevre M, Cefalu WT, Ye J. Butyrate improves insulin sensitivity and increases energy expenditure in mice. Diabetes. 2009 Jul;58(7):1509-17. doi: 10.2337/db08-1637. Epub 2009 Apr 14. PMID: 19366864; PMCID: PMC2699871.
25- Gao Z, Yin J, Zhang J, Ward RE, Martin RJ, Lefevre M, Cefalu WT, Ye J. Butyrate improves insulin sensitivity and increases energy expenditure in mice. Diabetes. 2009 Jul;58(7):1509-17. doi: 10.2337/db08-1637. Epub 2009 Apr 14. PMID: 19366864; PMCID: PMC2699871.
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30- Mayo Clinic Staff. Autism spectrum disorder. Accessed October 5, 2020.
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32- Bourassa MW, Alim I, Bultman SJ, Ratan RR. Butyrate, neuroepigenetics and the gut microbiome: Can a high fiber diet improve brain health? Neuroscience Letters Volume 625, 20 June 2016, Pages 56-63
33- Rose S, Bennuri SC, Davis JE, Wynne R, Slattery JC, Tippett M, Delhey L, Melnyk S, Kahler SG, MacFabe DF, Frye RE. Butyrate enhances mitochondrial function during oxidative stress in cell lines from boys with autism. Transl Psychiatry. 2018 Feb 2;8(1):42. doi: 10.1038/s41398-017-0089-z. PMID: 29391397; PMCID: PMC5804031.
34- Bourassa MW, Alim I, Bultman SJ, Ratan RR. Butyrate, neuroepigenetics and the gut microbiome: Can a high fiber diet improve brain health? Neurosci Lett. 2016 Jun 20;625:56-63. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2016.02.009. Epub 2016 Feb 8. PMID: 26868600; PMCID: PMC4903954.
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