Something new emerges from the world of gut bacteria seemingly every other day. That’s why it’s worth taking a look at a study from the University of Illinois that was published near the end of 2017.
In the human study, 32 obese and lean individuals were tested. They did supervised cardiovascular exercises for 30-60 minutes three times a week for six weeks. Short-chain fatty acids—in particular, butyrate, which promotes healthy intestinal cells, reduces inflammation, and generates energy—increased in the lean participants as a result. Short-chain fatty acids in general are formed when gut bacteria ferment fiber in the colon. In addition to butyrate’s specific role, these fatty acids also improve insulin sensitivity and protect the brain from inflammation and neurodegenerative disease.
Butyrate’s role in your gut manifests itself in a variety of ways: if you have Crohn’s disease, an increase in butyrate production can strengthen your intestines. It also plays a role in guarding the body against diet-induced obesity.
The study also found that lean individuals produced more butyrate than in obese individuals. Why this happened is still unknown and represents the next question for researchers to explore.