Our Living Alchemy team is always on the lookout for new scientific research on the human microbiome and how we can use this research to benefit our customers. Trusted scientific findings help us to improve our products and give the education needed to assist others on their health journey. We strive to be on the cutting edge of science, so we wanted to share some fascinating research with you: The importance of Short Chain Fatty Acids for improving intestinal wellbeing!
Short Chain Fatty Acids, or SCFAs, are metabolites produced by the microbiome. Metabolites are nutrients that are created through metabolism (digestion) or are necessary for metabolic processes. Prebiotic fibers, fibers that cannot be digested by the human body, are fermented by beneficial bacteria in the gut and slowly turned into metabolites (1). The most common SCFAs are called butyrate, acetate, and propionate (2).
Short Chain Fatty Acids have a variety of functions in the human body primarily in the gut. Our intestinal tract is lined with epithelial cells that are important in absorbing nutrients, secreting toxins, and filtering substances (3). Butyrate is one of the primary energy sources for epithelial cells and assists with protecting them. This supports the healing of the intestinal walls and boosting immunity (4). This is important information because many gut issues, such as IBD or leaky gut, are caused by damage to the epithelial cells of the intestinal lining. Short Chain Fatty Acids could be another missing link in preventing and healing intestinal inflammation and promoting epithelial cell growth.
SCFAs have been shown to trigger apoptosis and autophagy both important functions in cell life. Apoptosis keeps our body stable by killing potentially harmful cells (5), while autophagy is responsible for filtering waste and removing dysfunctioning parts of a cell, a step before apoptosis. (6) These functions are crucial to cell function because they protect the body from mutation which can lead to cancer and other illnesses. Autophagy, in particular, promotes healing before killing off damaged cells. SCFAs could help regulate cell production, promote homeostasis in the intestinal tract, as well as provide cancer protection by encouraging autophagy and apoptosis (7).
In addition to healing epithelial cells and influencing cell reproduction, SCFAs also have other functions. They can cross the blood-brain barrier and influence neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain (8). As we’ve discussed in our blog How is Immunity & Mental Health Connected to the Gut-Brain Axis?, poor gut health can have a negative impact on the brain as the two are closely connected. If they can heal the intestinal lining and also influence brain chemistry, SCFAs could have an important role to play in mental health. SCFAs also reduce intestinal pH, encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria and killing pathogens (9). In some studies, they have been linked with T-cell production and regulation (10). T-cells are specialized immune cells that attack foreign invaders and protect the body from pathogens. If Short Chain Fatty Acids can influence the production of these cells and also their specialization (i.e. what pathogens they attack), they could have a positive impact on our immunity.
While there is still more research that needs to be done regarding Short Chain Fatty Acids and gut health, the research is promising. Scientists are now trying SCFA enemas to treat ulcerative colitis (11). This is exciting research as it could provide a more natural, holistic treatment option for those who are suffering from a variety of gut issues. In the meantime, you can increase your Short Chain Fatty Acid production by eating more prebiotic fibrous food, such as asparagus, chicory root, artichoke and bananas, as well as ensuring you are eating fermented foods that are rich in SCFAs. With the increase in prebiotics and probiotics, your body will be better protected and your microbiome will be strengthened.
Living Alchemy has a range of Symbiotics including probiotics, prebiotics, enzymes and SCFAs, called Your Flora: your complete digestive solution! We use our unique Kefi-Soy™ combined with fermented whole foods and herbs to provide you with the best delivery of diverse microbes and nutrients for your gut. These microorganisms not only help us break down food to produce nutrients, but also protects the body from harmful invaders with bio-available SCFAs. The more diverse microbes you have, the stronger your digestion and immunity. That’s why Your Flora products are made with diverse strains of beneficial microbes to help you balance and protect your own unique microbiome.