What on Earth is Butyrate?

Key Takeaways:

  • We cannot make enough butyrate because we eat too few resistant starches
  • Butyrate nourishes the gut and promotes cell differentiation*
  • Butyrate is a necessary component to a balanced microbiome, also working as an inflammation guard*. One of several, short-chain fatty acids created from fermented resistant starches, low butyrate levels have been associated with serious health concerns. 

The vital role Butyrate plays in gut health

Our gut is where the immune system gets its oomph, where the final products of digestion sit and where water is absorbed into the body.  About 400 different kinds of bacteria live there, most of them good, some not so much. There is a balance we need to maintain to stave off one or another pathology, including IBS/IBD, diverticular issues and even polyposis.  The bottom line is that no one should suffer colon disease, and fewer have to if healthy and appropriate bacteria levels are maintained

The cells that line the colon walls are called colonocytes.  These endothelial beauties are flat and constitute a layer that is only a single cell thick.  They live shorter than a week and then are replaced by new ones. Because of this turnover rate, we wonder why some people insist on harsh cleanses that deliver ostensibly little in the way of benefit.  All cells need a source of energy to do their work. Evidence is strong that the epithelial lining of the gut relies more on luminal energy supply than on vascular, meaning that energy comes from outside, not from the bloodstream as most cells require.  So, then, what is this energy supply? Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) derived from the bacterial fermentation of resistant starch are the luminal substrates for colonocytes. It has been established that almost 99 percent of SCFA’s are rapidly absorbed from the lumen. 

How Can Butyrate Help?

Of the short-chain fatty acids, and those having fewer than six carbon atoms, butyrate is the one that nourishes the gut and promotes cell differentiation, a process that helps to prevent serious colonic diseases*.  Because of its protective nature, butyrate is a most desirable molecule and is to be cultivated as a friend or, at least, introduced as a partner. 

The fiery process of inflammation is linked to most chronic disorders, from a heart attack to stroke to type 2 diabetes.  Inflammation fuels a cytokine known as interleukin-6 (IL-6), which remains elevated in chronic sickness. Butyrate is a rescue molecule in inflammatory diseases, wherein it impairs the oxidative processes that initiate their genesis*. 

Like others of its sort, BodyBio Butyrate—either the Sodium, Calcium-Magnesium or Sodium-Potassium form—inhibits enzymes that deleteriously unwind DNA, just like the kinked-up Slinky we ruined as kids.  Butyrate sequesters harmful ammonia that forms from faulty protein metabolism and/or from inborn metabolic errors. In clearing mental fog, it increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor*. Depending on its concentration, butyrate decreases intestinal permeability, closing tight junctions and preventing leaky gut*. 

Although naturally produced by our body in small amounts, the average diet does not consist of enough slowly-digesting fibers to produce the levels necessary. Who likes cold mashed potatoes and even colder rice?  That butyrate in butter and parmesan cheese is too meager to offer much help. For this reason, ample supplementation with a butyrate supplement is vital to overall well being.


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HM Hamer, D Jonkers, K Venema, S Vanhoutvin, FJ Troost, RJ  Brummer. Review article: the role of butyrate on colonic function.  Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics. 2008, 27(104-119).


Roberto Berni Canani, Margherita Di Costanzo and Ludovica Leone.  The epigenetic effects of butyrate: potential therapeutic implications for clinical practice.  Clinical Epigenetics 2012, 4:4. http://www.clinicalepigeneticsjournal.com/content/4/1/4


Nagendra Singh, Muthusamy Thangaraju, Puttur D. Prasad, Pamela M. Martin, Nevin A. Lambert, Thomas Boettger, Stefan Offermanns_, and Vadivel Ganapathy.  Blockade of Dendritic Cell Development by Bacterial Fermentation Products Butyrate and Propionate through a Transporter (Slc5a8)-dependent Inhibition of Histone Deacetylases.  The Journal of Biological Chemistry. Sept 2010. 285: 36 (27601-27609). http://www.jbc.org/content/285/36/27601.full.pdf


Ohira H, Fujioka Y, Katagiri C, Mamoto R, Aoyama-Ishikawa M, Amako K, Izumi Y, Nishiumi S, Yoshida M, Usami M, Ikeda M. Butyrate attenuates inflammation and lipolysis generated by the interaction of adipocytes and macrophages.

J Atheroscler Thromb. 2013;20(5):425-42.