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The Amazing Butyrate

America has a huge fiber consumption problem.

97% of Americans dont meet the RDA for fiber, which is 25-35 grams per day. The average American is eating 10-15 grams per day — less than a single can of black beans. Looking back to the days before processed food, our ancestors and even many of our grandparents ate about 100 grams per day. People on a whole food plant-based diet typically eat 60+ grams per day.

The lack of fiber consumption is a huge problem that is directly connected to this countrys health issues, from heart disease, to GI cancers, to autoimmune disease and diabetes. The list goes on. Heres why:

When we eat fiber from plants (veggies, fruits, unprocessed whole grains, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds) our gut produces something called butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that provides immense protection from myriad health issues. As a matter of fact, people who had/have poor Covid-19 outcomes are missing butyrate, which is not surprising, since more than 70% of our immune system is in our gut.

Heres a list of what butyrate does:

  • Repairs junctions in the intestinal lining to heal leaky gut”. Leaky gut causes autoimmune disease and wreaks havoc on the immune system in general.
  • Fuels the colon (butyrate triggers cell death in cancer cells in the lining of our colon)
  • Enhances growth of beneficial bacteria (a healthy gut = a healthy immune system)
  • Suppresses harmful bacteria
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Enhances insulin sensitivity (helps prevent/reverse/control diabetes)
  • Enhances the IMMUNE SYSTEM
  • Promotes intestinal motility

Another amazing thing, not on this list, is that butyrate can cross the blood brain barrier, which helps to prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia.

You mightve seen enhances insulin sensitivity” on the above list. The vast majority of Type 2 diabetics have gut issues; thats no coincidence. Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease fueled by processed foods and animal products. Many diabetics think that carbs are the enemy and avoid most fruits and many vegetables, worsening not only their gut issues but their insulin resistance as well.

So, what can we do to get more butyrate? We need to focus on eating a plant-diverse diet. Studies have shown that the people with the healthiest gut eat 30 different plant foods per week. This includes veggies, fruits, unprocessed whole grains, lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds. These can be blanched, baked, roasted, grilled or eaten raw, but they need to be in their pure form, and not fried in oil of any kind. A side note: if youre diabetic, go easy on the nuts and seeds, since they contain a lot of fat.

Take a look at this 2014 study from Drs. Lawrence David and Peter Turnbaugh, which compares a whole food, plant-based diet to a carnivore diet” containing no plant foods.

Test subjects were put on one diet for five days, then the other for five more. In it, you will see see the power of plants.

Whole Food Plant Based:                                                 Carnivore/Keto diet:

Gut microbiome changes for the better                                 explosion of growth in harmful microbes; those 

Increased butyrate production                                             associated with inflammatory bowel disease,  

                                                                                        inflammation, colorectal cancer, abscesses,           

                                                                                        and antibiotic resistance

 In a time when our immune system needs to be working better than ever, I hope that you understand why adopting more plants into your diet is vital. Plant diversity is essential to build a healthy microbiome (gut). The payoff comes in our overall health, because a healthy gut equals a healthy immune system.

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