Why Short Chain Fatty Acids are the Key to Optimal Health

Short chain fatty acids (S.C.F.A’s), sounds like something that you should be avoiding all together. But you couldn’t be more further from the truth.

How to feed your gut microbiome, without having to be a fermentation expert!

Posted by The Naturopath Shop on Wednesday, May 30, 2018

So what are SCFA’s?

SCFA’s are made in your colon. They are produced by your gut bacteria, when you consume carbohydrates and I’m not taking about refined carbs either- more on this later). SCFA’s are a 6 carbon chain (hence the name short) and can either be of 3 metabolites- butyrate, propionate, acetate (there are a couple of others but they only make up 5% of total SCFA’s).

Butyrate can be used instantly by some cells in your colon; while the rest can transported to your liver and enter the rest of your system by your blood.

The benefits of SCFA’s…………..

Studies have shown that SCFA’s reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity (basically metabolic syndrome) and some colon cancers.

Research has also shown that SCFA’s are anti-inflammatory, and that people who had ulcerative colitis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), had lower than normal levels of SCFA’s.

How Do I Increase my SCFA’s Levels?

SCFA’s are influenced by diet. Yes, the food you eat. As I mentioned before; SCFA’s are made by your bacteria when they digest certain carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are mostly found in vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and legumes.

All these foods also have one thing in common, they contain high amounts of fibre.

What FIBRE????

Yes! Here’s the glitch…..you might be currently following a low FODMAP, SIBO, or a High FAT/Low Carb diet. All of these diets dramatically reduce your intake of natural fibre. You can avoid this by really focusing on the vegetables you can eat, so this doesn’t happen. This is why long term Low FODMAP diets aren’t recommended for long periods.

This can be the hardest part when you are healing your gut. Especially if you have IBS/SIBO and feel like you bloat even from water. This is because your gut lining is hyper-sensitive and you need to go extremely slowly when you are starting to re-introduce regular foods.

Legumes are a fantastic source of fibre, but many people just can’t tolerate them. So after you have done adequate healing of your gut (can be different for everyone). You can start with brown lentils, drain the can, and freeze them into ice cube trays. This way you are just introducing a tiny amount daily.

There are many types of fibre, but some fibres in food are also called ‘prebiotics’. This term is used a lot more these days. The way I like to explain it is that prebiotics are ‘feeding’ your gut bacteria, which will make them grow big and strong. This method is excellent when you have low numbers in a beneficial bacteria (all you need to do is eat the right foods to build them up again). The end result will be that you have built up your gut ecosystem naturally with foods.

Foods That Feed Your Gut Microbiome

Listed below is a snap shot of foods that feed your healthy gut bugs – these foods contain either inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, galacto-oligosaccharides.

Jerusalem artichoke, yacon tubers burdock roots, chicory roots, dandelion roots, garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, globe artichoke.

Legumes, Brassica-family, vegetables, fresh beans, rye sourdough, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, LSA mix.

Polyphenols also feed your gut bugs. Polyphenol foods are:

black elderberries, black currants, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, blackberries, plums, raspberries, apples, black grapes

Flaxseed meal, chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, purple carrots, red carrots, purple potatoes, red cabbage, spinach, red onions, broccoli, carrots, red lettuce

Red rice, black rice, red and white quinoa, whole grain, rye brad, olives and olive oil

How Do I Measure SCFA’s?

This can be done only by stool testing. There are quite a few on the market that give you varying results. But you can easily find more about your SCFA’s levels by completing a CDSA (Comprehensive Diagnostic Stool Analysis) or by a UBIOME test.

If you would like to know more about SCFA’s or specific stool tests; fill out the contact form below and I will get back to you.

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Cheng et. al. (2017) Effects of Functional Oligosaccharides and ordinary dietary fibre on intestinal microbiota diversity, Frontiers in Microbiology, 1-11

Edwards et. al. (2017) Polyphenols and Health- interactions between fibre, plant polyphenols and the gut microbiota, Nutrition Bulletin, 42, 356-360

Ros-Covian et. al. (2016) Intestinal short chain fatty acids and their link with diet and human health, Frontiers in Microbiology, Vol.7, Article 185, pg.1-9

Singh et. al. Influence of diet on the gut microbiome and implications for human health, (2017), Journal of Translational Medicine, 15:73, 1-17







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