The colon is inhabited by a large population of microorganisms that are able to ferment carbohydrates and proteins that escape absorption in the small intestine during digestion. These microogranisms produce a wide range of metabolites, including short chain fatty acids (SCFA).
Acetate is the most abundant SCFA in the colon and makes up more than half of the total SCFA detected in feces. These beneficial SCFA have anti-inflammatory properties, provide energy to nourish the colonic epithelial cells and intestinal microbiota, and exert numerous positive effects on gut homeostasis.
Diet affects the gut microbiota composition and activity, and therefore the profile of SCFA and BSCFA synthesized, this having a deep impact on human health. The amount and relative abundance of SCFA may be considered as biomarkers of a healthy status. For example, high fiber-low fat and meat diets are characterized by the presence of higher amounts of fecal SCFA than diets with reduced fiber intake.
Intestinal Short Chain Fatty Acids and their Link with Diet and Human Health,
Low SCFA may indicate inadequate fiber intake, an unbalanced commensal bacterial population, or impaired bowel health.
Potential Source or Association:
- Decreased carbohydrate or fiber intake
- Low anaerobic or commensal bacteria: dysbiosis
- Altered levels of SCFA have been associated with compromised mucosal health and increased colonic inflammation
- Increase dietary carbohydrate and fiber intake (fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains)
- Evaluate and treat abnormalities of commensal gut bacteria
- Consider prebiotic supplementation
Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA): Acetate, n-Butyrate and Propionate are produced by anaerobic bacterial fermentation of indigestible carbohydrate (fiber).
Acetate is the most abundant SCFA in the colon and makes up more than half of the total SCFA detected in feces.
Imbalance among anaerobic organisms in the colon. Elevated % recovery of acetate suggests an overgrowth of anaerobic flora, specifically Clostridium.
- Assess Bifidobacteria
- Further Testing: Clostridium difficile EIA
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