What is Butyric Acid?
Butyric acid is a type of fatty acid that is created when the dietary fiber is broken down by good bacteria in the body. It is basically one of the most important short-chain fatty acids present in the gut along with acetic acid and propionic acid. It is also known as butyrate and butanoic acid.
It is found in animal and vegetable oils such as butter, ghee, animal fats, plant oil, and raw milk.
Butyric acid is responsible for the health and healing of cells in the small and large intestines. It is also a source of fuel for the cells lining the interior of the large intestine (1).
It is the butyric acid content of ghee that provides all the wonderful ghee benefits. Consuming butyric acids in ghee or other supplements has shown to aid digestion, calm inflammation and bring-in an improvement in overall gastrointestinal health.
Foods Containing Butyric Acid
Most of the butyric acid found in the gut comes from the bacteria present in it. The amount found in the food is smaller than that present in the gut bacteria.
Foods containing butyric acid are:
- Cow’s milk
- Sheep’s milk
- Breast milk
- Parmesan cheese
- Red meat
- Vegetable oils
Butter is the best dietary source of butyric acid as 11% of saturated fat in butter comes from short-chain fatty acids (9). About half of short-chain fatty acids are made of butyric acids.
Butyric acid can also be taken as a supplement with sodium butyrate, being one of the most common forms of supplement. It can be brought online or from any health store.
Health Benefits of Butyric Acid
Butyric acid is well known for its ability to help people shed weight. It is believed that the short-chain fatty acids along with the probiotics play a role in preventing the metabolic syndrome, which is responsible for abdominal obesity (2).
It helps regulate the balance between fatty acid synthesis and breakdown of fats. Butyric acid also helps improve insulin sensitivity which helps guard against weight gain (3).
Treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s Disease
Based on the numerous studies, researchers concluded butyrate supplementation to be a promising therapy for IBS.
The short-chain fatty acids help keep the gut lining healthy and sealed, which prevents leaky gut, an issue linked with irritable bowel syndrome.
Another study, done to see the effect of butyric acid showed it to reduce pain during bowel movement and inflammation in the gut, both of which are the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease (6).
The gut barrier integrity maintained by the short-chain fatty acids plays a crucial role in avoiding the symptoms of both Crohn’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
Increasing dietary fiber may improve insulin sensitivity and lower the risk of obesity.
However, more studies are needed to suggest if increasing butyric acid in humans has the same effect on insulin sensitivity.
Studies show that due to the strong inflammatory powers of butyric acid, it is also helpful in managing the immune responses (8)
Inflammation is the root cause of many diseases. Therefore, increasing butyric acid in the body could help people with many health problems with inflammatory roots.
It can be concluded that the best way to increase fatty acid in the system is by boosting the intake of dietary fibers. Fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are the excellent source of fiber.
However, the levels can be best met when friendly bacteria in the gut, breakdown or ferment dietary fiber.