Prebiotics and Butyrate What’s the Connection?
We used to think that the total surface of our digestive tract was about the size of a tennis court. Now, we know better …that’s been corrected. NIH study shows it to be the size of half a badminton court. With that said, it’s curious to note that there’s only one single layer of cells that separates our gut from the rest of our bodily function.
It’s very important to realize that the primary constituents that keep this very important cell layer alive are known as a short-chain fatty acid by the name of butyrate.
Butyrate is what our beneficial flora makes from the soluble fiber we take in.
So what happens, in essence, is that we feed the beneficial flora in our gut, and then the beneficial bacteria, in turn, help to feed us by keeping our digestive tract healthy.
Our good gut bacteria thrive on the soluble fiber or prebiotics that we ingest and the good bacteria provide the vital energy source for the cells that line our gut.
Now, what about bad bacteria?
We have to address the issue that there are bad bacteria all around as well. The more they proliferate, the sicker we become. The challenge we face it to consistently keep lots of the good bacteria around but at the same time get rid of the bad or pathogenic bacteria
The way our good flora tell our immune system that they’re helpful and beneficial bacteria, and not bad bacteria, is by butyrate signals. Clinical rsearch has shown us how butyrate is able to suppresses inflammatory reaction and how butyrate instructs our immune system to calms down.
When butyrate levels are low, our immune system doesn’t know this and is therefore unable to stop their attack on bacteria.
When we don’t fuel the growth of good bacteria with enough fiber, we don’t produce enough butyrate. Hypothetically, we could have lots of good bacteria, however, if we fail to feed them with fiber, they don’t make butyrate.
Unfortunately when our body senses low levels of butyrate, it mistakenly thinks that our gut is filled with bad bacteria and responds accordingly. What happens is that our human body may mistake low fiber intake for having a population of bad bacteria in our gut.
In reality, our human body has evolved over millions of years, all the time getting massive fiber intake. Our body doesn’t recognize modern day, processed foods which sorely lack soluble fiber, the very fuel needed for butyrate production.
For all this time, low butyrate has implied bad bacteria, so that’s the reason our body goes into an inflammatory offensive response.
You can prevent this from happening by making sure that you take an excellent source of prebiotic soluble fiber on a daily basis. It’s critical for butyrate production to support optimal health.