Restore | Gut-Brain Health | Butyrate | Tight JunctionsWhen you feed the bacteria in your colon a high-fiber diet, certain bacterial species produce a magical, short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. And voila; fiber that is otherwise indigestible becomes a powerful healing substance!  

Butyrate is an excellent example of how certain bacteria can do such a great job feeding you, as long as you feed them. Just one substance, like this incredible fatty acid, can do so much for your overall wellness. The fiber-butyrate connection is more evidence that the simplest and most common things, designed by nature to be most readily available, often have the broadest positive impact on our health.

So, what exactly can butyrate do for you?  
  • Restore | Gut-Brain Health | Butyrate | Mitochondria It helps promote tight junctions, synergizing with the work of Restore to create a strong epithelial barrier.  
  • Because it turns on the “peacekeeper” cells in your immune system, it is anti-inflammatory.  
  • On the metabolism side, it improves insulin sensitivity and lowers appetite. It likely protects not only chromatin activity and gene expression, but hundreds of proteins throughout the body, including enzymes involved in metabolism. 
  • Some of that fiber-derived butyrate finds its way to the brain, where it improves memory, learning, and protects neurons from oxidative stress.  
  • Butyrate can promote survival and regenerative genes found in nerve cells; it does this through chromatin remodeling, helping to regulate the unwinding of the DNA from the histone “spools” so that genes are appropriately transcribed or turned off. (Specifically, it’s a histone deacetylase inhibitor). For the same reason that you want to protect your tissues against oxidation, you want to control the acetylation of genes and proteins in your cells, and butyrate can do the job.  
  • Your mitochondria love Butyrate! It not only supplies the mitochondria with an energy source, but in the process regulates and protects the enzymes involved in the ATP cycle of mitochondrial respiration. Butyrate may also, in that process, activate genes for mitochondrial biogenesis (multiplication). More mitochondria in your cells means more available energy, especially to high demand areas like eyes, brain, heart, and nerves. Nowhere is this more relevant than in a three-foot long neuron.   
Rethink Superfoods

The highest dietary source of butyrate is butter. The microbiome is potentially a much greater source of this brain-boosting fatty acid, provided you supply it the proper fiber. This kind of fiber is especially found in whole grains, legumes, root vegetables, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, and asparagus. The microbiome is revealing to us another kind of nutrient density which occurs through transformation of fiber-rich foods, and we must rethink beyond the ever-invoked superfoods, anti-oxidants, minerals, and vitamins.

So, when you eat your next salad, thank all those proactive prokaryotes (your microscopic magicians). They are making (at a bargain price!) all kinds of precious nutraceutical ingredients from plain old fiber.

Sources: 

 Bourassa, Megan W., Ishraq Alim, Scott J. Bultman, and Rajiv R. Ratan. “Butyrate, neuroepigenetics and the gut microbiome: Can a high fiber diet improve brain health?” Neuroscience Letters, no. 625 (2016). 56-63.