Short-chain fatty acids are produced by intestinal bacteria.
In fact, this type of fatty acid is the main nutrient source for cells in the colon.
Short-chain fatty acids also affect health and diseases.
These fatty acids may reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and other diseases .
This article will cover the effects of short-chain fatty acids on health.
What is short-chain fatty acid?
Short-chain fatty acids are fatty acids with less than 6 carbon atoms (C) .
They are produced when intestinal bacteria ferment fiber in the colon and are the main source of energy for cells that cover the inside surface of the colon.
For this reason, short-chain fatty acids play an important role in intestinal health .
Excess short-chain fatty acids are used for other activities in the body. For example, this fatty acid can provide about 10% of the body's daily calorie needs .
About 95% of short-chain fatty acids in the body are:
- Acetate (C2).
- Butyrate (C4).
Propionate is mainly involved in glucose production in the liver, while and fused with other fatty acids and cholesterol .
There are many factors that affect the amount of short-chain fatty acids in the colon such as the number of microorganisms, food sources and the time it takes for food to pass through the digestive system .
Conclude: Short-chain fatty acids produced from fiber are fermented in the colon. They act as an energy source for cells that cover the inside surface of the colon.
Food sources provide short-chain fatty acids
A study of 153 people showed a link between eating a variety of plant plants with an increase in short-chain fatty acids in the stool
However, the amount and type of fiber introduced into the body affects the intestinal bacterial composition, thereby affecting the type of short-chain fatty acids produced .
For example, studies have shown that eating a lot of fiber increases the amount of butyrate that is produced, and vice versa reducing the amount of fiber also makes less butyrate .
The following types of fiber are best for producing short-chain fatty acids in the colon :
- Inulin: You can supplement inulin from artichokes, garlic , leeks, onion , wheat, rye and asparagus.
- Fructooligosaccharide (FOS): Available in many fruits and vegetables like bananas, onions, garlic and asparagus.
- Resistant pepper starch: Starch resistant pepper in cereals , barley, rice, bean , banana green, legumes and potato Has been cooked to cool.
- Pectin: Good sources of pectin include apples, apricots, carrot , oranges ...
- Arabinoxylan: found in cereal grains. For example, this fiber has the highest content in wheat bran, accounting for about 70% of total fiber.
- Guar gum : Guar gum is extracted from guar beans.
Conclude: High-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains support the production of short-chain fatty acids.
Short-chain fatty acids and digestive disorders
Short-chain fatty acids may be beneficial for some digestive disorders.
For example, butyrate has an anti-inflammatory effect in the intestine .
Intestinal bacteria convert resistant pepper and pectin into short-chain fatty acids, and absorption of these substances has been shown to reduce diarrhea in children .
Inflammatory bowel disease
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are two types of diseases main (IBD). Both have symptoms of chronic enteritis.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, butyrate has been used to treat both conditions.
Studies in mice showed that butyrate supplements and acetate supplements have the same effect on reducing intestinal inflammation. In addition, low levels of short-chain fatty acids in the body may make the ulcerative colitis worse .
Human studies also show that short-chain fatty acids, especially butyrate, can improve symptoms of ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease .
A study involving 22 patients with ulcerative colitis showed that consumption of 60 grams of oat bran daily for 3 months improved disease symptoms .
Another small study showed that butyrate supplements improved disease status in 53% of Crohn's patients .
For patients with ulcerative colitis, bowel washing with short-chain fatty acids twice daily for 6 weeks reduces symptoms to 13% .
Conclude: Short-chain fatty acids can alleviate diarrhea and help treat inflammatory bowel diseases.
Short-chain fatty acids and colon cancer
Short-chain fatty acids may play an important role in the prevention and treatment of certain types of cancer, especially colon cancer .
Laboratory studies show that butyrate helps maintain healthy colon cells, prevents cancer cell growth and helps kill cancer cells in the colon .
However, the mechanism behind these effects has yet to be clarified .
Some observational studies suggest that a high-fiber diet may lead to a lower risk of colon cancer. Many experts believe that this result is partly due to the production of short-chain fatty acids .
Some animal studies have also found a positive link between dietary fiber and reduced risk of colon cancer .
In one study, rats containing butyrate-producing bacteria in the gut were fed a high-fiber diet with tumors 75% smaller than those without the intestinal bacteria .
Interestingly, eating a diet high in fiber without bacteria producing butyrate does not work against colon cancer. Low fiber diets combined with bacteria that produce butyrate in the gut are also ineffective .
This suggests that anti-cancer benefits exist only when a high-fiber diet is combined with the correct bacteria in the intestine.
However, studies on humans produce mixed results. Some point out that high-fiber diets may reduce the risk of cancer, while others may not find any link .
However, these studies did not study gut bacteria, and the differences between types played an important role.
Conclude: Short-chain fatty acids have been shown to be resistant to colon cancer in animal and laboratory studies. However, we still need to do more research.
Short chain fatty acids and diabetes
A summary of evidence has found that butyrate can have a positive impact on both animals and people with type 2 diabetes .
This review also highlights the number of intestinal microorganisms of people with diabetes who seem to have an imbalance .
Short-chain fatty acids have been shown to increase enzyme activity in the liver and muscle tissue, resulting in better blood sugar control .
In animal studies, supplements of acetate and propionate have improved blood sugar levels of rats .
However, there are very few studies on humans, and the results of the studies are heterogeneous.
One study found propionate supplements reduced blood sugar levels, but another study showed that short-chain fatty acid supplements did not significantly affect blood sugar control in healthy people .
Some human studies have also shown that fermented fiber can improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity .
However, this effect is generally only found in people who are overweight or insulin resistant, but not in healthy people .
Conclude: Short-chain fatty acids help regulate blood sugar, especially for people with diabetes or insulin resistance.
Short chain fatty acids and weight loss
The composition of microorganisms in the intestine can affect the absorption of nutrients and regulate energy, so it also affects the progression of obesity .
Studies have shown that short-chain fatty acids also help regulate fat metabolism by enhancing fat burning and reducing stored fat .
When this happens, the amount of free fatty acids in the blood will decrease, and may prevent weight gain .
Several studies on animals have tested this effect. After 5 weeks of treatment with butyrate, obese mice reduced 10.2% of their original body weight, and lost 10% of fat. In rodents, acetate supplementation has reduced the amount of stored fat .
However, the evidence that short-chain fatty acids help with weight loss are mainly animal and test-tube studies.
Conclude: Animal and test-tube studies show that short-chain fatty acids can help prevent and treat obesity. However, we need to do more research in humans.
Short chain fatty acids and cardiovascular health
Many observational studies have shown that a high-fiber diet may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
However, how effective it depends depends on the type of fiber and supply .
In humans, fiber is also possible reduces inflammation .
One of the causes of fiber's ability to reduce the risk of heart disease may be due to short-chain fatty acids produced in the colon .
Studies in both animals and humans have found that short-chain fatty acids reduce cholesterol levels .
Butyrate is thought to interact with the major genes that make up cholesterol, thereby reducing cholesterol production .
For example, the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver of mice was reduced when they were supplemented with propionate. Acetic acid can also reduce cholesterol levels in mice .
The same effect has occurred in obese people, when acetate in vinegar reduces excess cholesterol in the blood .
Conclude: Short-chain fatty acids can prevent the risk of heart disease by reducing inflammation and preventing cholesterol production.
Should you take short-chain fatty acid supplements?
The most common short-chain fatty acid supplement foods are butyric acid salts.
However, supplementation may not be the best way to increase the amount of short-chain fatty acids. Butyrate supplements are usually absorbed in the small intestine, before they reach the colon, meaning all benefits to colon cells will no longer exist.
In addition, there is little scientific evidence about the effectiveness of short-chain fatty acid supplements.
Butyrate can reach the colon when it is fermented from fiber. Therefore, increasing the amount High-fiber foods In your diet is probably the better way to improve short-chain fatty acid intake.
Conclude: Eating high-fiber foods is the best way to increase short-chain fatty acid levels, as supplements are absorbed before reaching the colon.
Things to remember
Due to its anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer abilities, short-chain fatty acids can bring many positive effects to the body.
One thing is for sure: caring for intestinal bacteria can bring many health benefits.
The best way to feed gut bacteria is to eat fermented high-fiber foods.