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The Importance of Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) for Our Gut

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

The Role of Fiber in Creating SFCA

Are you experiencing symptoms of gut inflammation, diarrhea, constipation, or IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)? You may need to improve the Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in your gut.

Short-chain fatty acids are made when bacteria ferment fiber in your gut. SCFAs support nutrient absorption, digestion, bowel movement, regularity, metabolism, and an overall healthy gut. Yet, most people don’t get enough fiber, and that's why in many cases our bodies can’t make enough SCFAs to support our gut health.

As a digestive expert and Sibo Naturopath, I’m passionate about helping my patients improve their gut health and I understand the importance of Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) on our gut. Improving fiber intake and SCFA levels is often part of my Crohn's natural treatment, Ulcerative colitis natural treatment, and SIBO natural treatment protocol.

Want to learn why?

Let’s learn more about the importance of SCFAs and how to improve your levels.

What Are Short-Chain Fatty Acids

Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are a form of fatty acids with less than six carbon atoms. SCFAs are made when the bacteria in your gut microbiome ferment fiber. Your gut microbiome plays a critical role in your health. A healthy gut microbiome helps to reduce chronic inflammation, aids digestion and absorption, supports metabolism, improves immune function, increases energy, supports brain and mental health, and more (1).

The 3 main types of SCFAs include Acetate, Propionate and Butyrate.

What’s the Connection Between SCFAs and Dietary Fibe?

Dietary fiber comes from plant foods, including greens, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and beans. They provide structure to plants and help to bind food together. Fiber from food helps beneficial bacteria to ferment and make SCFAs.

The human body lacks the necessary enzymes to digest fiber, but dietary fiber is still important. It helps to bind nutrients and waste products together and support elimination through bowel movements. They also help to support and promote beneficial gut bacteria and support the production of SCFAs (2).

Types of Fiber

There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can dissolve in water to create a gel-like substance. It helps to improve digestion, bowel movements, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels. Insoluble fiber cannot dissolve in water. It adds bulk to stool, helps to support bowel movements and regularity, and may improve insulin sensitivity (2).

Good sources of soluble fiber include peas, beans, apples, carrots, citrus, barley, oats, bran and legumes.

Good sources of insoluble fiber include nuts, beans, green beans, cauliflower, potatoes and whole grains.

Digestive Health Benefits of SCFAs

SCFAs offers a list of science-backed health benefits for your gut health. Let’s look at them one by one.

1. Reducing symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)- Crohn's and Ulcerative colitis.

As a gastrointestinal specialist and a Sibo Naturopath and, I’m incredibly passionate about the benefits of SCFAs for IBDs, such as Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. According to a 2018 study published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, butyrate, a type of SCFA, may help to decrease gut inflammation and promote gut microbiome health (3). I highly recommend SCFAs as part of a Crohn's natural treatment and Ulcerative colitis natural treatment protocol.

2. Reducing the risk of diarrhea

SCFAs may also help to reduce diarrhea and other digestive issues. According to a 2014 study published in Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease, butyrate may help to decrease the risk of developing travelers’ diarrhea (4). It may also be helpful for those with diarrhea due to IBS or IBDs.

3. Decreasing the risk of colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. 1 in every 25 women and 1 in every 23 men will develop colorectal cancer at one point during their lifetime (5). A 2020 study published in Current Medicinal Chemistry has found that SCFAs may help to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer and may help to improve the chances of recovery (6).

4. Supporting weight loss and weight maintenance.

Being overweight or obese and having excess belly fat can increase the risk of gut microbiome imbalances, gut inflammation, and digestive symptoms. Gut health issues may also increase your risk of slow metabolism and obesity. According to a 2019 study published in Nutrients, SCFAs may help people to lose weight when needed and maintain their weight (7). Acetate, a type of SCFA, may help to regulate hormones that are involved with reducing appetite and increasing metabolism.

Improving SCFAs

The general recommendation for daily fiber intake is about 25 to 32 grams for females and 30 to 35 grams for males. Most people don’t even eat about half of this. This is not surprising considering the processed food diet we consume in our busy Western world.

Yet, improving your fiber intake is so important for your gut health, digestion, and bowel movements. It’s not difficult to meet your fiber needs. 1 medium apple contains 2 grams of fiber. 1 cup of carrots has about 4 grams of fiber. 1 cup of cauliflower or 1 medium potato contains 3 grams. And ½ avocado has 5 grams of fiber. It adds up.

If you are following a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet with lots of plant-based whole foods, including greens, vegetables, herbs, spices, sprouts, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans, meeting your daily fiber needs should not be difficult.

In addition to foods, you may also improve your SCFA levels and digestion by taking an SCFA supplement. You may try a sodium butyrate supplement for better digestive health.

My Recommendation

To support your overall digestive health, improve your symptoms of IBS or prevent flare-ups of IBDs, I recommend eating a nutrient-dense diet with lots of fiber-rich greens, vegetables, herbs, fruits, nuts, and seeds that support SCFA production. You can also try taking a high-quality SCFA supplement. If you are looking for natural treatment options for digestive issues, Ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, or SIBO, from a naturopath, I urge you to make an appointment today here. As a gastrointestinal specialist and Sibo naturopath, I specialize in Crohn's natural treatment, Ulcerative colitis natural treatment, SIBO natural treatment, and many other digestive disorders.

SFCA ang our gut
Healthy food


1. Parada Venegas D, De la Fuente MK, Landskron G, et al. Short-chain fatty acids (Scfas)-mediated gut epithelial and immune regulation and its relevance for inflammatory bowel diseases. Front Immunol. 2019;10:277. Link Here

2. Barber TM, Kabisch S, Pfeiffer AFH, Weickert MO. The health benefits of dietary fibre. Nutrients. 2020;12 Link Here

4. Krokowicz L, Kaczmarek BF, Krokowicz P, et al. Sodium butyrate and short chain fatty acids in prevention of travellers’ diarrhoea: a randomized prospective study. Travel Med Infect Dis. 2014;12(2):183-188. Link Here

5. Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer. American Cancer Society. Link Here

7. González Hernández MA, Canfora EE, Jocken JWE, Blaak EE. The short-chain fatty acid acetate in body weight control and insulin sensitivity. Nutrients. 2019;11(8):1943. Link Here


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