Butyric acid, a short-chain fatty acid manufactured by beneficial bacteria in the gut, has been linked to health improvements in several studies.
In one study, sixty-six adults with irritable bowel syndrome received a daily dose of either 300 milligrams of sodium butyrate or a placebo. After four weeks, those in the butyric acid group reported significantly less abdominal pain.
In another study, thirteen patients with Crohn’s disease took four grams of butyric acid a day for eight weeks. At the end of the study, nine out of thirteen experienced a reduction in symptoms.
A third study demonstrated that sodium butyrate blocks the growth of colorectal cancer cells. The same study also found an increased rate of apoptosis (cell death) in cancerous cells, suggesting increased dietary fiber intake may be one way to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Finally, animal studies have demonstrated the ability of increased dietary fiber to improve insulin sensitivity while lowering the risk of obesity. These finding correlate with studies showing a deficit of butyric acid-producing bacteria in the guts of type 2 diabetics. Increasing dietary fiber encourages the proliferation of these beneficial bacteria, which may be the key to reversing metabolic illness.
Besides being produced in the gut, butyric acid is also present in certain foods. Dairy products, like milks and cheeses, contain modest amounts of butyric acid, with butter containing the highest detectable levels. Red meat and sauerkraut also contain small amounts of butyric acid, while providing B vitamins and probiotics. However, the best way to increase your own butyric acid is to manufacture more, by feeding your microbiome dietary fiber in the form of artichokes, garlic, onions, asparagus, potatoes, oats, beans, and rice. Maybe buttering your vegetables isn’t such a bad idea, after all. —TP
—Adapted from “What Is Butyric Acid, and Does It Have Health Benefits?” Medically reviewed by Natalie Butler, RD, LD, and written by Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD, MPH. https://www.healthline.com/health/butyric-acid#food-sources