Short-chain fatty acids or SCFAs are produced by the good bacteria present in the gut. When these bacteria ferment fiber in your colon short chain fatty acids are produced. They are indeed the main source of nutrition for the cells in the colon.
Short-chain fatty acids may also play an important role in managing health and different lifestyle disease importantly inflammatory diseases like type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other conditions.
Understanding short-chain fatty acids
Short-chain fatty acids are fatty acids with lesser than six carbon atoms.
They are produced when the friendly gut bacteria ferment fiber in your colon and are the main source of energy for the cells lining your colon.
SCFAs play an important role in colon health. After colon needs the excess short-chain fatty acids are used for other functions in the body. It is said, they may provide roughly 10% of your daily calorie needs.
Short-chain fatty acids are also involved in the metabolism of important nutrients like carbohydrate and fat.
About 95% of the short-chain fatty acids in the body are;
1. Acetate (C2): important for energy production and synthesis of lipids
2. Propionate (C3): mainly involved in producing glucose in the liver and small intestine.
3. Butyrate (C4): the preferred energy source for cells that line the colon.
Many factors influence the amount of short-chain fatty acids in your colon, including the number of microorganisms present, the dietary source, and the time it takes for food to pass through your digestive system.
Food sources of short-chain fatty acids
Fibers are the thing that gets you SCFAs. Consuming a lot of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes, is crucial to improve short-chain fatty acids in the body. Also, the amount and type of fiber you eat affects the composition of bacteria in your gut, which affects what short-chain fatty acids are produced.
For example, studies have shown that eating more fiber increases butyrate production, while decreasing your fiber intake reduces production of such fatty acids.
The following types of fiber are best for the production of short-chain fatty acids in the colon;
Inulin. Artichokes, garlic, leeks, onions, wheat, rye, and asparagus are all sources of inulin.
Fructooligosaccharides (FOS).FOS can be found in many fruits and vegetables, including bananas, onions, garlic, and asparagus.
Resistant starch. Cooked and cooled grains, barley, rice, beans, green bananas, legumes, and potatoes are sources of resistant starch.
Pectin. Fruits such as apples, apricots, carrots, and oranges are rich in pectin.
Arabinoxylan. present in cereal grains. For example, wheat bran accounts for around 70% of the overall fibre content.
Guaran. Also called guar gum are extracted from guar beans.
Short-chain fatty acids and digestive disorders
Short-chain fatty acids may be protective against some digestive disorders. For example, butyrate has anti-inflammatory effects in the gut.
Diarrhoea: Your gut bacteria convert resistant starch and pectin to short-chain fatty acids. Eating them has been shown to reduce diarrhoea in children.
Inflammatory bowel disease: Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease are the two main types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Both are characterized by chronic bowel inflammation.
Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, butyrate has been used to treat both of these conditions.
Production of short-chain fatty acids is associated with reduced risk of inflammatory bowel disease
Short-chain fatty acids and weight loss
Microorganisms in the stomach can impact nutrition absorption and energy balance, thereby contributing to obesity. Short-chain fatty acids have also been found in studies to modulate fat metabolism by increasing fat burning while lowering fat accumulation. When this happens, the amount of free fatty acids in the blood decreases, which may help prevent weight gain. Several animal experiments have investigated this impact.
Short-chain fatty acids and diabetes
Short-chain fatty acids may assist type 2 diabetics control their blood glucose levels and improve insulin resistance. Short-chain fatty acids have been demonstrated to boost enzyme activity in the liver and muscle tissue, leading in improved blood sugar control.
Short-chain fatty acids and heart health
High-fiber diets have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease in numerous observational studies. Nonetheless, the kind and source of the fibre frequently affect how strong this link is. Reduced inflammation has also been connected to fibre consumption.
The colon's synthesis of short-chain fatty acids may be one of the ways that fibre lowers the risk of heart disease.
Because short chain fatty acids slow down the synthesis of cholesterol, blood cholesterol is reduced. Short-chain fatty acids have been shown in human and animal studies to lower cholesterol levels.
It is believed that butyrate interacts with important genes that produce cholesterol, perhaps lowering cholesterol synthesis. Apple cider vinegar and other acetate-containing vinegars reduced the blood's level of excess cholesterol.
Short-chain fatty acids, due to their anti-inflammatory qualities, may provide a variety of health benefits. Maintaining your friendly gut bacteria can result in a variety of health benefits. The best method to nourish the healthy bacteria in your gut is to eat plenty of foods high in fermentable fiber and probiotics.