What Is Gut-Healthy Butyrate and How to Get More

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Butyrate, found in whole milk, is linked to many benefits from preventing inflammation to boosting gut health.
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If you're looking for foods high in butyrate, your Google search may be coming up short. While you may have heard that butyrate is good for your gut health, not many foods actually supply your body with butyrate — your intestines actually create it all by themselves.

Incorporating some more high-fiber foods can help increase your body's butyrate production levels, among other benefits. So, next time you're at the grocery store, take a peek at the fiber content of your foods.

Read more: 19 High-Fiber Foods — Some May Surprise You!

What Is Butyrate?

Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that's produced in the small intestines, according to a January 2018 study published in Advances in Nutrition. Typically, the friendly gut bacteria in your intestines produce butyrate when they ferment dietary fiber, a form of carbohydrate your body can't digest.

Butyrate is known for having beneficial effects on your overall gut health, according to the above-mentioned study. The fatty acid helps maintain intestinal homeostasis and helps your body create energy. Butyrate also helps strengthen the barrier in your intestines and can promote immune health.

What's more, low levels of the fatty acid is linked to an increased risk of both colorectal cancer and inflammatory gut diseases, per an August 2018 report in Nutrients, suggesting that butyrate might help fend off inflammation.

Foods to Get More Butyrate

While butyrate is a fatty acid your own body produces, there are certain foods that can spur its production. Foods high in fiber typically promote the production of butyrate, as your intestines ferment and digest the food.

Each day, you should aim to get about 25 grams of fiber per day, according to the FDA. Any food that provides at least 20 percent of that daily value (5 grams or more) is considered a high-fiber source. And while many processed foods are fortified with fiber, you'll want to prioritize healthy whole-food fiber sources.

Whole Grains

As whole grains contain all parts of the original grain (the bran, germ and endosperm), they are higher in nutrients than refined grains, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Whole grains are excellent sources of fiber, which can help produce butyrate.

Whole grains (like oats, rye, barley and brown rice) are also beneficial for heart health and may help improve cholesterol levels and may lower the risk of heart disease, according to the AHA. Additionally, whole grains are great sources of iron and magnesium.

Read more: 13 Powerful Grains and Seeds

Fruits and Vegetables

While most fruits and vegetables will add some fiber to your diet, some pack in more than others. When it comes to fruit, raspberries (8 grams of fiber per cup), pears (5.5 grams of fiber per medium pear) and apples (4.5 grams of fiber per medium apple), can be high sources of natural fiber, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If you're looking for high-fiber veggies, green peas (9 grams per cup), broccoli (5 grams per cup) and turnip greens (5 grams per cup) are among the best options, according to the Mayo Clinic. Leafy greens are another low-calorie option that can add some volume and fiber to any meal.

Full-Fat Dairy

Butyrate is also found commonly in milk fat, which you'll find in dairy products like cheese and yogurt, according to a September 2018 study published in Food Control. However, it is important to limit eating or drinking too much full-fat dairy products since they're high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

The AHA recommends getting no more than 5 to 6 percent of your total daily calories from saturated fat.

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