Short-chained fatty acids (SCFAs) are acids that are produced by the fermentation of certain foods in the intestine. SCFAs are excellent fuel for colonic cells. SCFAs also stimulate the cells that produce T cells, a type of immune cell. It’s vital to have proper levels of short-chained fatty acids in your gut. SCFAs help make your gut function well, which contributes to overall health and wellbeing.
One of the best food sources of SCFAs is resistant starch. True to their name, resistant starches break down and ferment very slowly in the digestive tract. The result is that resistant starches provide energy over a long period. Wholegrain cereals like barley and brown rice contain resistant starch. Lentils, green bananas (but not yellow bananas), cooked, cooled potatoes, and sweet potatoes are also excellent sources of resistant fiber.
If you can’t tolerate eating foods high in resistant starch without getting bloated and gassy, I strongly recommend getting a comprehensive stool analysis. If you get symptoms very quickly after eating, a SIBO breath test to determine if you have upper GI bacterial overgrowth is also a good idea.
Foods that contain pectin are also a good source of SCFAs. Pectin-rich foods include berries, apples, apricots, blackberries, carrots, and oranges. Pectin is a kind of starch that also breaks down slowly while feeding the cells that line the small and large intestines.
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The third one is called FOS, or fructooligosaccharides. Some supplement companies include FOS inside probiotic capsules. I’ve not a fan of that combination because too many of my clients have had significant side effects from the FOS/probiotic mix. That’s the reason my CanXida Restore contains no FOS. FOS and inulin, two types of sugars, are found in significant levels in Jerusalem artichokes, onions and leeks, and wheat, and rye, and asparagus. Green beans also contain some FOS.
Larch arabinogalactans, also called mannogalactans, are sugars that help provide the gut with SCFAs. Mannogalactan is also helpful with immune dysfunction, autoimmune disease, and cancer treatment.
Lastly, guar gum rounds out the top five categories of foods that supply short-chain fatty acids. Guar gum is a thickening agent that comes from a type of bean. Very small amounts of guar gum are beneficial for the gut, but large amounts can cause bloating and gas.