The short-chain fatty acids are produced by beneficial bacteria in the intestine and are the main source of nutrition for the cells of the colon. These fatty acids may reduce the risk of diabetes, obesity, inflammatory diseases and heart diseases. Therefore, it is essential to know the way they favour their health (1) .
What are the short-chain fatty acids?
As the name indicates, are fatty acids with less than 6 carbon atoms. They occur when the intestinal bacteria ferment fiber in the colon and become the main source of energy for the cells that they cover.
But their roles do not focus only in that area, but also provide 10% of the daily needs of calories (3) ( 4) and are involved in the metabolism of essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates and lipids.
About 95% of the fatty acids of short chain are:
- Acetate C2.
- Propionar C3.
- Butatrato C4.
These play a very valuable role, for example, the propionate participates in the production of glucose in the liver, while others are incorporated into other fatty acids, and cholesterol (5) .
There are many factors that affect the amount of fatty acids in the colon, namely:
- The amount of microorganisms.
- The source of food.
- The time it takes for food to travel through the digestive system (6) .
Food with short chain fatty acids
These acids are produced in the large intestine when the fiber plant is ingested and fermented by the intestinal flora. Therefore, when you eat a large amount of food rich in fiber (vegetables, fruits, and vegetables), the short chain fatty acids (7) (8) increase .
After some studies, it has been demonstrated that eating more fiber increases the production of butyrate.
What types of fibers are the best to produce short chain fatty Acids in the colon?
One of the main can be obtained from whole grains (barley, rice, beans, potatoes, and vegetables) cooked or chilled.
Can be obtained in foods such as artichoke, garlic, onions, leeks, wheat, rye, and asparagus.
Is found in apples, apricots, carrots and oranges.
They are found in various vegetables, fruits, onions, bananas, garlic and asparagus.
Present in cereal grains (very common in wheat bran).
Is obtained from grains of guar (a type of legume).
Present in some products such as cheese, butter and cow’s milk.
short-chain fatty acids, and digestive problems
By the roles that they play, they can help with some digestive problems.
intestinal bacteria convert starch and pectin resistant to short chain fatty acids, thereby reducing diarrhea in children. (9)
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main types of inflammatory bowel disease and characterized by chronic intestinal inflammation. The butyrate, due to its anti-inflammatory properties, it is useful to treat these two conditions (10) (11) .
Studies have shown that low levels of short chain fatty acids are related to worsening of ulcerative colitis; and that the supplements butir reduce the intestinal inflammation.
Other studies have found that consumption of 60 grams of oat flour for three months significantly improved the symptoms related to inflammatory bowel diseases (12) .
The short-chain fatty acids may prevent some types of cancer
The fatty acids play a very important role in the prevention and treatment of certain types of cancer, especially colon cancer .
Although it is difficult to understand the processes behind the butyrate, laboratory studies have shown that helps prevent the growth of tumor cells and promote the destruction of cancer cells in the colon (13) (14) .
The research on animals showed a positive relationship between diets high in fiber and lower risk of colon cancer (15) .
multiple studies of animals and humans suggest that the benefits of drugs are when a fiber-rich diet is combined with bacteria correct in the intestine (16) (17) .
short-chain fatty Acids and its relationship with diabetes
Some studies have shown that butyrate has a positive effect on animals and human beings with diabetes type 2 . These fatty acids have shown to increase the enzymatic activity in the tissue of the liver and the muscle, resulting in a better control of sugar in the blood (18) .
Other investigations have found that supplements of propionate reduce the levels of sugar in the blood, while other fatty acids do not affect significantly the control of sugar in healthy people (19) .
Additionally, a positive relationship was found between fermentable fiber with better control of sugar and insulin sensitivity. But, in general, these effects are reflected in people with overweight or obese.
short-chain fatty Acids and weight loss?
The composition of the micro-organisms in the body, specifically in the gut, affects the nutrient absorption and the regulation of energy and, therefore, directly influences the development of the obesity (20) .
Several analyses have shown that the short chain fatty acids regulate fat metabolism, increasing the burning and decreasing its storage (21) (22) . However, these investigations were based mostly on animals and studies of samples.
short-chain fatty Acids and the health of your heart
Other studies have linked diets high in fiber with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and reduced levels of cholesterol (23) (24) .
The add-ins of short-chain fatty acids are good for?
Usually, they feature the presentation of the salts of butyric acid, known as butírato sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium; and are easy to get in specialised shops. However, they may not be the best option, since they are mainly absorbed in the small intestine; which means that you will not get all of its benefits for the cells of the colon.
The butyrate that reaches the colon is best when fermented fiber, so that a fiber-rich diet is the best alternative to increase short-chain fatty acids.