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Learn about butyrate, its many benefits and how to incorporate more of it fat people meet your diet. Butyrate is a type of fatty acid that helps your gut work right, and it might be important for gut-related diseases from autoimmunity to obesity to colon cancer.

Here’s what it does, and how to make sure you’re getting enough of it. You can get butyrate from food or supplements, but your gut flora can also make it out of fiber. Healthy gut flora digest food by fermenting it. When they ferment certain types of fiber, they create butyrate.

Your digestive system needs butyrate to function properly. Butyrate helps control the growth of the cells lining the gut, to make sure there’s good balance between old cells dying and new cells being formed. It’s also the most important source of energy for those cells. The protection comes from its anti-inflammatory effects, which reduce oxidative stress and help control free radical damage. Butyrate may also have some other immune benefits. Regulatory T-cells help your body distinguish between itself and everything else. It’s a pretty important job, and butyrate helps the T-cells stay on track.

Gut barrier function is huge for immune health and avoiding autoimmunity. We also have some evidence that the butyrate-autoimmunity connection exists in people. That might contribute to their inflammatory symptoms. But there’s also good news! Crohn’s Disease in 9 out of 13 patients: 2 significantly improved, and 7 actually went into remission. The researchers’ explanation was the anti-inflammatory effect of the butyrate. Speaking of autoimmune, inflammatory conditions, you know what else is on the list?

There are actually some conflicting data on this. Some studies show that obese humans have increased amounts of butyrate in their feces. But other studies suggest that people with obesity have a lower ability to ferment carbohydrates into butyrate. Normal-weight people have more butyrate-producing bacteria in their gut than obese people. If you take the gut flora from a normal person and transplant them into the colon of someone with metabolic syndrome, the recipient’s insulin sensitivity improves along with their ability to ferment carbohydrates into butyrate. There are also some other ways that butyrate might affect body weight. There’s some evidence that it suppresses appetite by affecting the levels of hormones in the gut.