Butyrate is one of the many molecules of what are called short chain fatty acids.
This particular fatty acid is made by bacteria that live in our gut and ferment fiber. Butyrate production is determined by the intestinal pH and the population of bacteria that produce it.
One can also find butyrate in the form of butyric acid in dairy products, especially butter (contains 3%-4% of butyric acid).
It’s a well known fact that eating soluble fiber increases butyrate production (1).
Fibers such as inulin, pectin, resistant starch and fructooligosaccharides are the most well known producers of SCFA (2)(3) . Although oral butyrate supplementation showed moderate results in the treatment of intestinal inflammation (4)(5), the most intelligent way of increasing butyrate levels in your colon is through selective pre and probiotic supplementation.
Butyrate producing bacteria (such as Clostridium butyricum) live in the final part of the human gut: the colon (6). A decrease of these bacteria defines dysbiosis in several conditions such as Ulcerative Colitis (7), Crohn disease (8), Cancer(9) and traveler’s diarrhea (10).
Several human studies have shown that butyrate improves the symptoms of IBD. This can be achieved through a high-soluble fiber diet, butyrate enemas and supplementation with butyrate producing bacteria (11).
Our favourite source of soluble fiber are Psyllium seeds, which have showed greater butyrate production than Psyllium husks, being also very low in carbs which is important for people with digestive disorders.
Anaerobic fermentation of the soluble non-starch polysaccharides from psyllium seed results in the production of the short-chain fatty acids acetate, propionate, and butyrate in the intestines. Psyllium husk contains only the epidermis of the seed, while the actual seed has a higher amount of fermentable fiber. Because of this fiber content, psyllium seed degrades more slowly than pectin and produces fairly large amounts of butyrate and acetate. Butyric acid exhibits antineoplastic activity against colorectal cancer, is the preferred oxidative substrate for colonocytes, and may be helpful in the treatment of ulcerative colitis. In a study of resected colorectal cancer patients, those given 20 grams of psyllium seed daily for three months showed an average increase of butyric acid production of 42 percent, which decreased to pretreatment levels within two months of cessation of supplementation (12).
It should be noted that combining Psyllium seeds with lactic acid bacteria leads to even greater production of butyrate in the human bowel. That’s why we strongly recommend consuming Psyllium seeds with kefir.