May 27, 2024 10:36 am

All About Butyrate

Butyrate is important to mastering inflammation.

As someone who could not tolerate any mast cell stabilisers, I have been actively researching for well over a decade interventions to address mast cell activation.

As I delved deeper into my research, I discovered the paramount importance of butyrate. This critical anti-inflammatory agent regulates auto-immunity and signals our cells to initiate repair processes. This function is crucial for our overall health.

When its levels are low in the microbiome, the immune system becomes compromised, underscoring the need to maintain adequate levels for optimal health.

Here is a detailed primer.

What Is Butyrate? A Simple Breakdown

Butyrate is a type of short-chain fatty acid (SCFA). 

SCFAs are the building blocks of fats that our cells need for energy. Without enough SCFAs, our cells do not have the energy to work correctly.

It is mainly made by gut bacteria and utilised as energy to repair the gut. Only around 5-10% enters the bloodstream, travelling through the body to support energy for essential functions for other functions.

The Gut's Role in Butyrate Production

Butyrate is a postbiotic because our microbiota mainly produces it. 

Three things are needed for it to be produced. First, the presence of butyrate-producing bacteria is essential. Second, these bacteria feed on prebiotic fibres and intestinal mucus. Finally, butyrate production involves cross-feeding and interaction with the entire microbiota.

Typically, these bacteria belong to the firmicutes group. Below is a detailed list.


The Vital Role of Butyrate in Gut Health

Our microbiome regulates the cells lining our intestines.

Butyrate gives the large intestine the energy to grow, maintain, and protect the intestinal barrier.

Certain bacteria feed on the intestinal lining to produce butyrate. Therefore, a healthy intestinal lining is crucial for these bacteria to colonise and thrive.

Without enough butyrate, a leaky gut becomes inevitable.

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Why Butyrate Matters for Inflammation Control

Butyrate supports the gut barrier, regulates mast cells, and balances the immune system.

The gut immune system must respond to pathogens while tolerating commensal bacteria and foods. Its levels determine if these two competing needs can be achieved.

High levels of butyrate:

  • Help immune cells respond to bacteria, viruses, and even cancer,
  • Improve tolerance of foods,
  • Increase the number of immune cells that suppress inflammation and allergic responses,
  • Enhance the anti-bacterial activity of macrophages to limit pathogen growth,
  • Suppress mast cell activation, and
  • Coordinate the mast cell and immune system to promote immunity and tolerance.

Without sufficient levels,  autoimmunity and mast-cell activation become inevitable.

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Optimizing Your Energy Levels

Butyrate is crucial for producing energy in the body, underscoring its importance in our daily lives.

Specifically, butyrate provides most of the energy for the intestines and acts as a backup energy source for the brain when glucose is low, like during sleep.

Mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouses, control energy production. Low levels signal them to slow down.

High levels also help with metabolism. It:

  • Prevents obesity by burning more energy,
  • Improves blood sugar and insulin,
  • Regulates appetite and leptin,
  • Lowers triglycerides,
  • Prevents fatty liver, and
  • Boosts mitochondrial function.

Besides what bacteria make, our cells can also produce small amounts of butyrate.

However, low levels can disrupt our energy balance, which in turn can lead to obesity, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver, and mitochondrial problems.

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The Connection Between Butyrate and Brain Health

The brain has immense energy demands.

While our body can use three fuels (amino acids, glucose, and essential fatty acids), the brain relies on glucose and butyrate as backup fuel.

Butyrate crosses the blood-brain barrier and has SCFA transporters and receptors in the brain.

While research is still emerging, current studies show that it plays a significant role in the brain and the gut-brain axis.

High levels:

  • Maintain the blood-brain barrier, similar to the intestinal barrier,
  • Reduce inflammation in the brain,
  • Help transform short-term memory into long-term memory,
  • Restore brain plasticity after drug use and possibly pharmaceutical drug-induced brain injuries,
  • Increase GABA, an important neurotransmitter that regulates histamine in the brain,
  • Reduce cortisol in response to acute psychological stress, thereby regulating the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and
  • Stimulate gut motility by triggering serotonin release from gut cells through activation of the vagus nerve.

These points show that butyrate is essential in providing the brain with the energy it needs to maintain homeostasis and communicate with the gut-brain axis.

How Butyrate Works

Researchers are still learning how butyrate works. However, its impact on the body is amazing.

Key roles include:

Firstly, microbiome balance: It helps regulate the gut biome and produces essential vitamins and neurotransmitters.

Secondly, histone activation: It activates HDAC genes that promote cell survival, plasticity, and regeneration while protecting against oxidative stress. This helps stabilise mast cells.

Additionally, GPCR regulation: It regulates energy balance through GPCRs, which respond to signals like light, hormones, and neurotransmitters. GPCRs are essential for homeostasis, the immune and nervous systems, and energy production.

Moreover, mitochondrial function: it supports energy balance in the mitochondria, which produces the cell’s energy (ATP).

Notably, butyrate levels exert a profound influence on a vast array of genes, cells, and functions in the body, underscoring its pivotal role in maintaining health.

Top Foods That Increase Butyrate Production

Fortunately, there are many ways to increase butyrate levels through foods, fibres, probiotics, and direct supplements.

First, consider foods high in butyrate. It naturally occurs in cow’s milk, butter, ghee, cheese (especially goat cheese), and human breast milk. These foods come from animals that produce butyrate in their gut.

Next, focus on foods that feed butyrate-producing bacteria. While many whole grains, fruits, and vegetables contain prebiotic fibres, certain foods are particularly effective:

  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Yacon tubers
  • Burdock roots
  • Chicory roots
  • Dandelion roots
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Globe artichokes
  • Legumes
  • Brassica family vegetables
  • Fresh beans
  • Beetroot
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • LSA (linseed, sunflower, and almond mix).


Additionally, when you maintain a diverse and rich microbiome with butyrate-producing bacteria, consuming a variety of these prebiotic fibres is usually sufficient.

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Prebiotics and Probiotics: Partners in Gut Health


Supplementing with prebiotic and probiotics can also protect butyrate levels.

First, let’s look at prebiotics.

When butyrate-producing bacteria are low, prebiotic supplements can be beneficial.

Prebiotics are food supplements that promote production in the gut through microbial fermentation. The best butyrate producers include:

  • Fructose Oligosaccharides (FOS)
  • Galactose Oligosaccharides (GOS)
  • Xylooligosaccharides (XOS)
  • Disaccharides (Lactulose)
  • Potato Starch (and RS2)
  • Beta-glucans

The products that test well are:

  • Firstly, Zinobiotic: I prefer Zinobiotic because it tests extremely well. 
  • Secondly, MegaPre: This is my second choice.
  • Thirdly, Actilax: This is available in Australia without a prescription.

I use all three and rotate them to feed different bacteria. However, if you have a small intestinal overgrowth, partially hydrogenized guar gum might be more suitable.


Next, let’s look at probiotics.

Research into probiotics that boost butyrate levels has been limited. However, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is one such probiotic.

Moreover, combining MegaSporeBiotic with MegaPre showed a 150% increase in butyrate production in clinical studies.

Since MegaSporeBiotic is a probiotic that restores balance to the microbiome, it is my preferred choice.

Supplements: What You Need to Know

Recently, many new butyrate supplements have appeared on the market.

However, it’s important to note that these supplements don’t directly increase butyrate-producing gut bacteria. Instead, they protect cells when levels are low.

The studies use sodium butyrate. BodyBio makes sodium butyrate, which can be used for systemic mast cell issues.

Interestingly, Pure Encapsulations Sunbutyrate is actively used by gastroenterologists in the USA for irritable bowel syndrome with excellent results.

Please note that high doses can become a stressor, so gradually increasing the dosage.  Also, avoid high doses for developing brains during pregnancy and in children.


In conclusion, short-chain fatty acids are crucial in regulating mast cells.

Currently, you can’t directly measure butyrate levels with any commercial test. However, you can measure butyrate-producing bacteria with microbiome mapping tests.

Typically, butyrate producers should make up 25% or more of the microbiome. Moreover, when inflammation in the body is high, increasing their levels becomes even more critical.

From my extensive research and experience, I can’t stress enough the importance of maintaining healthy butyrate levels. It’s not just a health goal; it’s a crucial factor for your overall well-being.

To learn more about MegaSporeBiotics, read my blog post All About MegaSporeBiotic and Why It Is The Next Generation Probiotic. 

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