10 Benefits of Butyrate for Total Body Health

When considering all of the supplementation options for your personal health and well-being, it can be overwhelming to try to narrow down just a few—or even just one—key player. Naturally, what you choose to take depends on your personal health history, but when in doubt, most people could benefit from something that works to improve the gut, widely considered by functional and holistic health professionals to be the foundation of total body health. 

That brings us to butyrate—a postbiotic short-chain fatty acid, produced by certain kinds of probiotic bacteria in the colon—but its effects reach far beyond the gut environment. Butyrate is a total body health-supportive molecule, from the control centers of the brain to hormone regulation to gut function and more.* 

Prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics all have a place in a well-rounded diet and health supportive regimen, but among the three, postbiotics like butyrate have the most therapeutic bang for your buck. Here are the ten reasons why you should consider butyrate as a total body health supplement.


Butyrate benefits:

  1. Nourish the gut lining
  2. Support your brain
  3. Promotes a healthy inflammation response in the gut
  4. Modulate gut motility
  5. Supports healthy blood pressure levels
  6. Supports normal proliferation of healthy yeast levels
  7. Regulate the Immune System
  8. Promote Cell Differentiation
  9. Support Symptoms of Colonic Diseases
  10. Improve Sleep

1. Nourish the Gut Lining*

The gut lining is made of specialized cells called colonocytes. While most cells rely on glucose as their primary fuel source, the colonocytes rely mostly on butyrate. It only makes sense that when we don’t have enough butyrate, our gut lining suffers, hindering both absorption of nutrients and protection from harmful bacteria, yeasts or other pathogens that reside in the gut.

Increasing the type of prebiotic fiber (resistant starch) that produces butyrate as well as supplementing butyrate can nourish the gut lining, help restore healthy nutrient absorption and seal a leaky gut [1]. 

2. Support Brain Function*

Butyrate is one of the ultimate players in the gut-brain connection. It increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a critical metabolite that supports our learning and memory abilities [2]. 

Butyrate also sequesters ammonia, a toxic byproduct that can cause brain fog.* It may also enhance the brain’s plasticity, the ability to “rewire” new thought pathways, such as when learning a language or changing a habitual behavior. [3, 4]

3. Promotes a Healthy Inflammation Response in the Gut*

Butyrate prevents the action of inflammatory processes that would normally put stress on our cells. In particular, butyrate neutralizes free radicals, toxic byproducts created by chemical reactions taking place throughout the body. 

Lowering inflammation reduces the risk of immune system reactivity, developing chronic disease, and mental health concerns such as depression and anxiety [5].

4. Modulate Gut Motility*

One of butyrate’s key functions in the gut is to regulate gut motility, how fast or slow food is processed and moves through the colon. Many people with IBS and IBD suffer from either fast motility, diarrhea, or slow motility, constipation. No matter which type you have, butyrate helps to restore normal colonic motility [6].

5. Supports Healthy Blood Pressure Levels*

Butyrate corresponds inversely to blood pressure, meaning low blood pressure = higher butyrate levels, and higher blood pressure = lower butyrate levels. In a study with 205 participants, researchers found that increasing butyrate production in the microbiome may help regulate blood pressure in obese pregnant women [7]. A 2017 study on rats also showed that sodium butyrate had antihypertensive effects [8]. 

6. Supports Normal Proliferation of Healthy Yeast Levels*

A study found that sodium butyrate has “significant antifungal activity” on pathogenic yeasts like Candida albicans, Candida parapsilosis, and Cryptococcus neoformans. Researchers noted that sodium butyrate inhibited the yeasts from spreading and decreased production of protective biofilms, making them easier to eradicate. Sodium butyrate also enhanced the activity of antifungal drugs, suggesting it might do well as a complementary therapy with medications such as “azole” drugs. [9

7. Regulate Immune System Function*

The same study on sodium butyrate also found that it enhanced macrophage activity, increasing their antimicrobial response to pathogenic microbes [10].  

More generally, we’ve already connected butyrate to a healthy gut environment, where about 70% of your immune system lives in the gut associated lymphoid tissues (GALT). The GALT determines immune responses based on the microbial balance in the gut. If there are more adverse bacteria or yeasts present, for example, it will launch an attack. This can cause damage and inflammation to the gut tissues over time [11]. 

Butyrate can modulate the immune system not only by having a direct effect on certain pathogens, but also fueling the gut tissues, promoting microbial balance, and lowering inflammation, all of which help the GALT become less reactive. 

8. Promote Cell Differentiation*

Butyrate promotes cell differentiation, our cells’ ability to change to a specific type like a liver cell or a blood cell. When cells don’t differentiate properly and simply proliferate, we can end up with tumors which then lead to cancer. Butyrate also helps prevent these serious diseases by inducing cell apoptosis, the natural death of a cell. [12]

9. May Support Symptoms of Colonic Diseases*

One of the most exciting prospects of butyrate is its ability to manage and support healthy gut function for those who struggle with gastrointestinal issues.*

Ideally, increasing butyrate levels in the colon would help prevent colonic diseases from manifesting in the first place, by strengthening the gut lining, controlling pathogens, lowering inflammation, and modulating the immune system. But it may be useful in treating pre-existing colonic conditions as well. 

Butyrate has been shown to modulate the gut microbiome in inflammatory bowel disease patients, lowering inflammation [13]. Research also indicates that butyrate has therapeutic potential for IBD patients, particularly with immunomodulation and mucosal healing [14, 15]. This therapeutic potential is exciting since rates of IBD continue to increase globally and patients are looking for more alternative and complementary treatment solutions [16]. 

10. Improve Sleep*

And here’s the icing on the cake: a study on mice showed that both oral butyrate and intraportal butyrate injection increased non-rapid eye movement sleep by 70% in six hours. It also decreased sleep latency, the time it takes to fall asleep. This is still a new area of research, but the theory is that butyrate may have an effect on sleep-promoting hormones via signalling from the intestinal microbiome [17]. 

The Benefits of Butyrate on Your Health

Butyrate isn’t just for gut health support, though it exerts many of its benefits there. But it also affects the brain, immune system, basic cell functions, blood pressure, inflammation, and even your sleep. So if you’re looking for a total body health supplement, butyrate may be your best bet. 

You can learn more about BodyBio Butyrate here and in our previous blog posts.

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Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that promotes a healthy microbiome.
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