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35 Foods High In Butyrate & When To Supplement

Medically reviewed by 
35 Foods High In Butyrate & When To Supplement

Fighting diseases naturally by maximizing gut health may be as simple as adding butyrate foods to a healthy meal plan. Butyrate is a four-carbon, short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) produced during dietary fiber fermentation by microbes in the lower digestive tract. 

Studies show that butyrate offers an array of health benefits, including less inflammation, reduced obesity, and improved intestinal health.  The purpose of this article is to explore the nutritious foods rich in butyrate, ways to test for butyrate deficiency and signs that warrant butyrate testing.


What Is Butyrate?

Butyrate offers numerous health and wellness benefits. 

Definition and Sources

Butyrate is a SCFA produced by healthy gut bacteria that break down dietary fiber. The primary source of butyrate is microbial fermentation in the colon. Consuming certain foods can increase butyrate production.

Role in Human Health

Butyrate is important in supporting gut health, including maintaining the intestinal lining, reducing inflammation, obesity, and diabetes, and strengthening immune function. This SCFA is also a main energy source for colon cells, as it meets about 70% of this need. 

Other potential health benefits of butyrate include better sleep, improved insulin resistance, enhanced brain health, fewer gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, and a lower risk of heart disease.

Benefits of Adequate Butyrate Levels

Maintaining sufficient amounts of butyrate offers an array of benefits. Adequate levels of butyrate in the body provide beneficial effects on metabolic function, digestive health, and even mental health because of the gut-brain axis. Butyrate also helps prevent certain diseases, including colon cancer.

At an extraintestinal level, butyrate is potentially useful for improving metabolic diseases, blood disorders, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, and stroke.

Studies show that butyrate aids in reducing inflammation, diminishing obesity, and improving overall intestinal health. Sufficient amounts of butyrate can reduce the risk of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, high blood pressure, insomnia, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, and long COVID

Foods High in Butyrate

Examples of butyrate foods, or foods that increase butyrate levels in the body, include:

Dietary Fiber and Prebiotics

Dietary fiber is vital for producing butyrate through microbial fermentation. Fiber is present in fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains (plant-based foods).

Foods high in prebiotics include: 

  • Bananas
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Sugar beet
  • Chicory
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Honey
  • Wheat
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Tomatoes
  • Soybeans
  • Milk
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Seaweed
  • Microalgae

Prebiotics are also available as supplements.

35 Specific Foods Linked to Butyrate Production

Foods that enhance butyrate production include:

Dairy foods

  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Cheese
  • Milk (cow, goat, and sheep's milk)

Whole grains

  • Oats
  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat

Vegetables and Legumes

  • Potatoes (sweet and boiled)
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots
  • Broccoli
  • Leafy greens (turnip greens, etc.)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chickpeas
  • Green peas
  • Dried beans
  • Lentils

Fermented Foods

  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir
  • Some pickles


  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Apricots
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Raspberries
  • Pears

Other Butyrate Foods

Drink a lot of water when increasing your intake of high-fiber foods to maintain proper hydration. If you develop bloating or gas, these symptoms should subside within a few days after eating more fiber. Drinking more water also reduces the risk of constipation.

Butyrate Supplements

Butyrate is available in dietary supplements (often in the form of sodium butyrate or calcium/magnesium butyrate), though there are potential risks and benefits associated with using these SCFAs to boost butyrate levels in the body.

While butyrate supplements can indeed increase butyrate, it’s most beneficial to boost levels by eating nutritious butyrate foods. 

Potential side effects linked to butyrate supplements include GI symptoms in people prone to bloating or those who have food intolerances and a sensitive gut. 

Individuals who already have high levels of butyrate in their bodies don’t need butyrate supplements, and some healthcare providers recommend avoiding such supplements for women who are breastfeeding or pregnant

Furthermore, butyrate supplements are not as tightly regulated by the FDA as foods and medications. 

When To Supplement Butyrate

There are times when butyrate supplementation may be beneficial. 

Forms of Butyrate Supplements

Common forms of butyrate supplements include:

  • Sodium butyrate
  • Tributyrin
  • Calcium/magnesium butyrate

While sodium butyrate is a common form of butyrate supplement, studies show that tributyrin may have better bioavailability in the body compared to sodium butyrate and other forms. However, researchers found that tributyrin may induce headaches, nausea, or other side effects in some people. 

Probiotic and prebiotic supplements also help enhance a healthy microbiome and improve overall gut health.

When to Supplement Butyrate

Supplementing with butyrate could be indicated for individuals with low levels of SCFAs discovered through diagnostic testing.

Butyrate supplements may benefit people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and other gastrointestinal conditions because butyrate aids in maintaining the integrity of the intestinal lining and the gut barrier. 

It is unclear how much butyrate is needed to achieve optimal gut health and overall wellness. The current standard (and most common) dosing recommendations for butyric acid are 150-300 milligrams.

The recommended fiber intake for adults 50 years or younger is 25 grams for women and 38 grams daily for men. Adults older than 50 need 21 grams (women) or at least 30 grams daily (men). 

Testing for Butyrate Deficiency

Testing for butyrate deficiency helps providers determine if a patient is a candidate for dietary changes or butyrate supplementation. 

Challenges in Testing

Due to butyrate’s rapid metabolism, measuring levels directly can be challenging. Therefore, indirect markers of butyrate production and overall gut health are needed. 

Lab Tests for Gut Health

Gut health lab tests to consider include:

Stool tests

Stool testing assesses gut microbiota composition and SCFA levels. Examples include:

Blood tests

Blood tests assess inflammatory markers and related factors. They can directly measure the amount of butyrate, acetate, and propionate in the bloodstream. 


Interpreting Test Results

Understanding lab testing outcomes in the context of overall patient health is vital. Proper medical interpretation of lab test results offers opportunities for effective, personalized treatment recommendations. Butyrate test results that fall outside of the suggested range warrant further investigation. 

Signs You Should Test Your Patients For Butyrate Deficiency

Several signs may indicate a need for butyrate deficiency screening in patients.

Common Symptoms of Deficiency

Symptoms of low butyrate include:

Individuals might also develop worsening high blood pressure, allergies, arthritis pain, and other health problems associated with lower butyrate levels

Risk Factors for Low Butyrate

Risk factors for low butyrate include:

  • Poor dietary habits
  • A low-fiber diet insufficient in prebiotics 
  • Chronic use of antibiotics
  • Other medications that affect the gut flora

Maintaining exceptional gut health by eating nutritious foods and taking dietary supplements when needed are some of the best ways to balance butyrate and reduce the risk of diseases and their complications. 

When to Consult a Doctor

Signs that may require diagnostic testing and medical advice include:

It’s important to address potential causes of butyrate deficiency using diagnostic testing to establish the most effective personalized treatment plans for patients. Obtaining a comprehensive medical history and completing a physical exam helps screen for underlying medical conditions and establish which lab tests are the most beneficial. 


Key Takeaways

Butyrate in foods and supplements provides an array of health and wellness benefits. 

  • It’s important to include butyrate foods in a nutritious meal plan to reap the many health benefits of these foods and maintain a healthy gut microbiome

Patients should seek medical advice at the first sign of new or unusual symptoms suggesting low butyrate levels. 

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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