Short chain fatty acids – the essential ingredient to maintain a healthy gut

Mays Al-Ali explains the importance of SCFAs in gut health, weight loss and protection against serious health conditions.
girl with banana short hain fatty acids

Short chain fatty acids SCFA’s play a very important role in keeping your colon healthy and gut microbiome happy. They are produced when certain fibre rich foods are eaten that can’t be broken down by our digestive system, so they reach our colon intact and are fermented by our friendly gut bacteria.

Eating to improve gut health

This fermentation is actually positive and produces SCFA’s known as acetate, propionate and butyrate, which are the main metabolites produced in the colon by this bacterial fermentation of dietary fibres and resistant starch.

These metabolites have powerful functions helping to heal your gut lining and overall digestive health by improving gut integrity and helping to reduce risk of developing chronic diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes. They are anti-inflammatory with anti-microbial & anti-tumorigenic effects, as well as decreasing inflammation in the body by changing cell proliferation. Plus, they also help to regulate liver mitochondrial function and even help improve sleep.

Burning calories the easy way

But most importantly the more of these we eat the easier it will be for us to lose weight which is perfect for that January feeling of needing to combat that post Christmas excesses! SCFA’s work by helping us feel full for longer, increasing satiety & also by regulating metabolism. They also have an effect on brown adipose tissue activation. When brown fat is burned by the metabolism it increases thermogenesis, ie creating heat in the body which burns calories & increases metabolic rate. Other things that increase brown fat activation are ice baths! Increasing brown fat is linked to helping combat obesity and metabolic syndrome.

The rainbow way to high-fibre eating

Increasing them is easy, all you have to do is eat more high-fibre foods, such as fruits, veggies, legumes & whole grains as these all increase production of SCFA’s. And the more abundant & diverse the supply of fibre through your diet, the more abundant and diverse the gut microbiome & SCFA production. So eat the rainbow and try not to eat today what you ate yesterday (unless you are batch cooking to save time). The recommendation is to eat 30 different fruits and vegetables a week. Eating seasonal, local and organic (budget permitting) is highly recommended too.

Fibre rich foods to eat that produce the most SCFA’s in our colons:

Inulin: artichokes, garlic, leeks, onions & asparagus
Inulin: artichokes, garlic, leeks, onions & asparagus
garlic and asparagus rich in SCFAs
Fructooligosaccharides: found in various fruits and veggies eg bananas, onions, garlic & asparagus.
Resistant starch: wholegrains, brown rice, beans & legumes, sweet potatoes (or white potatoes but sweet potatoes are better for that beta carotene) – when you cook & cool any of these foods they become high in resistant starches which also makes them less insulin spiking.
Pectin: apples, apricots, carrots, oranges.
Pectin: apples, apricots, carrots, oranges.

If you found Short chain fatty acids – the essential ingredient to maintain a healthy gut interesting, you can read more from Mays Al-Ali on our Health and Nutrition channel.

Tags: , , , Last modified: January 17, 2023

Written by 12:53 pm Health