Effects of Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) on gut motility

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created February 29, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Hi hackers,

some personal research led me to this study: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9843779

It connects the SCFA concentration inside the colon with bowel transit time. And it appears that SCFAs have an inhibiting effect and significantly reduce colonic motility.

My take: The gut tries to absorb as many butyrate as possible and therefore slows down the transit process, what do you say?

I actually wanted to mimic this effect with constant butyrate supply and ate lots of ghee with every meal. And indeed - it slowed things down. Maybe someone has experienced similar effects?


Another hypothesis:

Is it possible that dietary MCT and SCFA induce ketone body production and therefore inhibit thyroid function which decreases colonic motility? (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15788986) But I'm not sure whether ketones reduce thyroid function, that's just a guess - still looking for a study.


on February 29, 2012
at 08:27 PM

Matthew ++++ exactly



on February 29, 2012
at 07:19 PM

Butter wont feed the cells lining your colon though. You will still need fermentable carbohydrate or fiber for that.



on February 29, 2012
at 07:17 PM

Fat of all kinds including SCFAs are efficiently absorbed an almost none reaches the colon. However SCFA from you diet may still bind to SCFA receptors in the small intestine with similar beneficial effects. The possible health benefits of butter are not well researched :)



on February 29, 2012
at 06:54 PM

You mean dietary SCFAs actually don't reach the colon? Do they get digested?


on February 29, 2012
at 05:57 PM

hmm, the only thing is that Lucas Tafur told me it's unlikely that orally consumed SCFA would have an effect. Maybe he's wrong though, as I've had good experiences with butter oil. that study is unfortunately on rats.

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on February 29, 2012
at 08:25 PM

SCFA are present in the colon, but probably only as fermentation by-products. Thus, the slowing transit time probably has more to do with your body trying to ensure that, when it senses fermentation is taking place, it gives the fermentation process enough time to extract every available calorie from otherwise indigestible fiber.

By the way, slow transit time might not be all good. I know it may slow any spike in blood sugar post meal, with the result that it may help diabetics manage their blood sugar. But, it's not clear longer digestion times are otherwise that good. One problem that I know of personally is that it increases GERD.

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