Foods that increase butyrate in the gut are normally considered high fiber foods. Since we don’t digest fiber, members of our microbiome ferment it, converting it into butyrate.
But there are other foods that increase butyrate in our gut. For one, many foods such as butter contain butyrate in them. The problem with getting butyrate this way is that gastric acid degrades it and most of the remaining is absorbed rapidly.
To get butyrate in to our colon, we need to rely on microbial fermentation. But if you’re on a low carb/low fiber diet, for one reason or another, you’re in luck: fiber fermentation doesn’t have the butyrate market cornered.
Microbes found in the human microbiome can also ferment amino acids into butyrate. Of course, for this to happen to a significant degree, the amino acids have to make it to the colon.
So let’s take a look at the amino acids our microbiome can use to make butyrate. In addition, we’ll discuss the drawbacks of consuming high amounts of some of these amino acids.
Amino acids in foods that increase butyrate in the gut
All told, there are at least 8 amino acids that our microbiome can convert to butyrate. Check out each amino acid listed below along with foods that are significant sources:
- Alanine(Pork rinds, eggs, spirulina)
- Cysteine(Tofu, soybeans, wheat germ)
- Glutamate(Parmesan cheese, spirulina, soybeans)
- Histidine(Venison, bacon, tofu)
- Lysine(Parmesan cheese, chicken breast, bacon)
- Methionine(Parmesan cheese, brazil nuts, chicken breast)
- Serine(Pork rinds, Parmesan cheese, soybeans)
- Threonine(Pork rinds, tofu, soybeans)
On top of this, microbes use one amino acid to generate isobutyrate, which shares some of the functionality of butyrate:
- Valine(Parmesan cheese, pumpkin seeds, pork rinds)
Common sources containing more than one of these amino acids include pork rinds, Parmesan cheese, spirulina, and soybeans. A great low carb “breading” uses pork rinds, Parmesan cheese and garlic, just be sure to use real Parmesan cheese and not the Kraft dust.
It’s important to point out that there are drawbacks to high intake of some of these amino acids:
- Excessive intake of the sulfur amino acids methionine and cysteine can lead to toxic levels of hydrogen sulfide.
- Both histidine and lysine can be problematic for people with histamine issues
These aren’t issues for everyone to concern themselves with, but it’s good to know just in case. The make up of your microbiome as well as your overall health will dictate whether you should avoid these amino acids.
If you’re looking for foods that increase butyrate in the gut, your search doesn’t begin and end with fiber. Our microbiome also converts certain amino acids into butyrate.
If you have GI issues and want to remedy them, it’s best to focus more on amino acids such as glutamate, alanine, serine and threonine. Limiting the sulfur amino acids methionine and cysteine may also be helpful as high levels of hydrogen sulfide impairs the use of butyrate by cells of the colon.
Furthermore, if you have problems with histamine intolerance or IBS, limiting histidine and lysine may also be a good idea. Of course, run any changes to your diet by your healthcare professional.