Butyric acid is suddenly front page news. An exciting new study on gut bacteria and type 2 diabetes has everyone talking about it. The only trouble is, most folks have never heard of the stuff. Let’s fix that, right now.
Butyric acid is a short-chain fatty acid. It naturally occurs in some foods. And the healthy bacteria in your gut produce it when you eat certain kinds of foods as well.
Your belly bugs love the stuff. In fact, butyric acid is their preferred energy source and they thrive when there’s plenty of it around.
But it turns out that’s far from the only benefit of this powerful fatty acid. From better blood sugar to helping to build a barrier against cancer, butyric acid (BTA)—sometimes called butyrate—can help you stay healthy.
I’ll have more on those benefits in just a moment. But first let’s take a quick look at where BTA comes from.
Raise your butyric acid levels with these foods
You’ll find butyric acid in high quality ghee (clarified butter) and butter made from grass fed cows. Animal fats, plant oils, parmesan cheese and some fermented kombucha drinks contain it too.
You can also bump up BTA production in your body by feeding it the right foods. In particular healthy, high fiber, prebiotic resistant starches.
Last month I told you all about fat burning resistant starches. These starches literally resist digestion until they reach your lower intestines. Once there your gut bacteria gobble them up and as they ferment, they produce butyric acid.
Resistant starch foods include…
- green (under-ripe) bananas
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Pinto, black and garbanzo beans
- dandelion greens
And now let’s get back to those benefits.
Butyric acid benefits you need to know about
A diet rich in high-fiber fruits, vegetables, grains and organic grass fed animal fats—including those resistant starches we just talked about—can improve the bacteria balance in your gut, boost your butyric acid levels and improve your health.
1. Better blood sugar:
We already had a strong suspicion that BTA could help with insulin resistance. Animal studies showed that supplementing with the fatty acid improved blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity. And human studies found fermentable fibers (like those butyrate producing resistant starches) improve insulin sensitivity as well.
We even knew that folks with type 2 diabetes tend to have far fewer healthy, butyric acid producing gut bugs.
Now a new study has added fuel to the fire. Chinese researchers divided volunteers into two groups. One group ate a low-fat and low-carb diet. The other group ate a high-fiber (butyrate boosting) diet with lots of veggies, whole grains and seeds.
Both groups took a drug that essentially creates an artificial version of how resistant starches work. Acarbose makes people digest starches more slowly so they reach the lower intestine intact where good gut bugs can make a meal of them.
An impressive 89 percent of the volunteers on the butyrate-friendly, high-fiber diet saw significant improvements in the number of butyrate-producing good gut bugs and their blood sugar. But the low-carb, low-fat dieters saw benefits from the slowed digestion too. As their butyrate levels rose, 50 percent of them saw better blood sugars too.
And of course, you don’t need a drug to mimic those effects. You can simply help your butyrate levels climb by eating the right foods.
2. Keeps cancer at bay:
Butyric acid could also help protect you against colon cancer. Research has found the powerful fatty acid has the ability to kill (apoptosis) colon cancer cells.
Normal cells have a built in biological clock which tells them when to die. Cancer cells ignore this directive and continue to grow out of control. But BA appears to be able to modify the cancer cells to overcome their resistance to normal programmed death so they die.
Researchers believe that the higher levels of BTA we see when we eat a high fiber diet could slash our risk for colon cancer.
3. Fights inflammation:
One of the most far reaching benefits of butyrate is the fatty acid’s ability to fight inflammation. BTA helps suppress your body’s inflammatory response to T-cells.
In the real world that means it could have BIG benefits for folks suffering with inflammatory or autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s , ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and type 1 diabetes.
And the potential benefits of butyric acid don’t even end there. There’s also growing evidence it might help us lose weight by improving our gut bug balance.
BA supplements are available. But it’s best to boost your butyric acid levels through diet when possible. Eat more foods naturally rich in the fatty acid, such as ghee and butter. And eat plenty of fiber-packed prebiotic foods and resistant starches too.
1. “Gut bacteria selectively promoted by dietary fibers alleviate type 2 diabetes,” Science 09 Mar 2018: Vol. 359, Issue 6380, pp. 1151-1156