The benefits can be heavily attributed to a health-beneficial short-chain fatty acid called butyric acid. Butyric acid got its name from the Latin word for butter, butyrum.
Butyric acid was first detected in butter, and now ghee—which is a concentrated, clarified butter and a superfood in Ayurveda—is the highest known food source of this beneficial fatty acid.
As is turns out, the reason the body may love ghee so much is that the intestinal tract makes its own butyric acid – or, more accurately, our microbes make it!
This butyric acid produced in the gut performs many functions. It boosts immunity, is the primary fuel source for the cells of the colon, feeds the good microbes, and much more.
I use ghee as a detox agent in all of my Ayurvedic cleanses, specifically the Colorado Cleanse and the Short Home Cleanse. Ghee, which has been used for thousands of years, stimulates a detox through a process called lipophilic-mediated detoxification—a process now backed by modern science! Ghee is the tool used to attach to and pull fat-soluble chemicals, preservatives, and pesticides out of the deep tissues of the body. (6)
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There is one special microbe that produces butyric acid in the gut, Clostridium butyricum. This strain has been used in Asia as a probiotic since the 1940s. It proliferates naturally in the small and large intestines of healthy individuals. Those with less-than-great digestion were found to have less butyric acid production in the gut. (5)
Potato skins, yogurt, and cream are said to be the foods that contain the highest amounts of Clostridium butyricum. (2)
Here are some of the benefits of butyric acid production from Clostridium butyricum in the colon: (1)
- Helps digestion by maintaining the integrity of the gastrointestinal mucosa.
- Inhibits the growth of unwanted bacteria in the gut and interferes with the growth of highly toxic bacteria.
- Encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium.
- Supports healthy bowel function and regulates abnormal bowel movements,
- Helps adjust water and electrolyte concentration in the intestinal tract.
- Supports the health of the intestinal mucosa and normal bowel function in inflammatory bowel conditions. (3)
On top of this, in one very comprehensive study, butyric acid production in the gut was found to deliver a host of remarkable benefits that extend far beyond digestive health: (4)
- Increases insulin sensitivity
- Supports healthy cholesterol levels already within the normal range
- Increases cellular energy production and efficiency of energy utilization
- Mild reduction in fatty tissue
- Reduction in hunger levels
- Increases thermogenesis in the body
How to Get the Butyric Acid your Gut Requires with Ghee
You can make your own butyric acid in your intestinal tract by feeding your microbes who make it.
All you have to do is use 1-2 teaspoons of ghee each day as a cooking oil, or added to your food or beverage. Additional support to a healthy microbiome is to eat a high-fiber diet.
In nature, there is an abundance of soluble fiber in the winter, and insoluble fiber in the spring and summer. For soluble fiber, think grains, nuts and seeds, like chia, flax and oatmeal. For insoluble fiber, think leafy greens and spring and summer vegetables.