Short-Chained Fatty Acids (SCFAs) are fatty acids given this name because of their chemical structure. They are created when good bacteria in the gut break down and ferment fiber in the diet.
Unlike many animals, humans don’t have enzymes to break down fiber. When eaten, fiber moves through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, undigested, until it reaches the large intestine, or colon, where SCFAs are produced.
What do SCFAs do?
There are several SCFAs, but the most common are acetate, propionate, and butyrate. What research shows us so far is:
- Acetate – Keeps the intestinal barrier, a protective layer of cells lining the intestinal wall, strong and healthy.
- Propionate – Protects the intestinal barrier, and helps control inflammation.
- Butyrate - Provides energy, keeps colon cells healthy, protects the intestinal barrier, and helps control inflammation.
Current research is looking into other roles SCFAs may have in the body including appetite control, body energy regulation, brain function, behavior, and more.
How Can I Support My Gut?
Different fibers produce different SCFAs, so try to get a variety of different types of fiber. Fiber comes from plants, not from animal products. To increase your fiber intake, add more beans, oats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables to your diet. Be sure to check out your personal recommendations in the DayTwo app.
In addition to fiber’s link to SCFAs, a high-fiber diet can benefit the body in other ways including:
- Promoting regular bowel movements (preventing constipation and diarrhea).
- Improving bowel health. Preventing and/or helping hemorrhoids and diverticular disease.
- Decreasing the risk of several types of cancer.
- Lowering cholesterol.
- Improving blood sugar and insulin levels after meals.
- Helping you feel fuller, eat less, and lose weight.
- Improving immune function.
- Possibly helping lower your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
The general recommendation for adults is 25 to 35 grams a day for good health. Eating a variety of fibrous foods, on a regular basis, may help you improve your microbial and SCFA diversity.
Did you know your DayTwo app automatically tracks fiber for you? Talk with your DayTwo team if you would like to learn more about fiber and how much is right for you.