About butyrate

Sodium butyrate, also known as butyric acid, is classified as a short chain fatty acid (SCFA) and is an important regulator of the intestinal environment.  Deficiency may be an issue in a range of gastrointestinal disorders including diarrhoea, constipation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) - Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and diverticulitis.

Sources

There is some butyrate in the foods we eat. Butter, some cheeses (eg. parmesan) and cow’s milk all contain butyrate. However, the amount in each is small. Most butyrate used by the body is produced within the large intestine when good bacteria ferment fibre which has passed through to the intestines without being digested.

The presence of good bacteria and non-digested fibre are important for the body’s production of butyrate.

Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano parmesan cheese.
Women skipping a rope

Importance

Butyrate is an important energy source for the cells on the intestinal wall and assists in maintaining a healthy intestinal wall. This helps prevent bacteria and toxins from entering the body through the intestines.

Butyrate also:

  • helps reduce inflammation
  • helps increases the absorption of sodium and water from food into the large intestine &
  • helps modulate the rate at which food is moved through the intestines

A lack of butyrate may lead to disorders of the gut, particularly in the colon. Diarrhoea and constipation may result.