The Vahouny Fiber Symposium: The Importance of SCFAs

If you don’t already know the benefits of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), you will soon. The beneficial effects of SCFAs may range from helping to fight depression and cancer to giving the colon a major boost. They were a major topic of conversation at the 10th annual Vahouny Fiber Symposium, held in March in Bethesda, MD, that Dr. Jackson attended.

Every four years the industry holds this event, which includes a large number of academic leaders in the field and well-known companies such as Prebiotin, Dupont, Beneo and Ingredion.

Prebiotics were a central theme, and they led off the first day of discussion focusing on oligofructose enriched inulin and prebiotics benefits. Stephan Theis, chief scientist for Beneo, touched on the new information coming out on the gut-brain data and interaction. So far the research has been done with mice, and there’s very little human data.

Other talks centered on Prebiotin, prebiotics and inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney disease and obesity. Much of the conference was devoted to exploring the causes and treatment for obesity, an issue of great concern in the medical community due to the high rates of obesity in the American population.

The Three Types of SCFAs

The benefits of SCFAs and its accompanying research is fascinating. The colon makes SCFAs through the Bifidobacter and lactobacillus groups when stimulated by prebiotics, particularly Prebiotin. There are three types of SCFAs:

  1. Acetate: This SCFA gets into the blood, passes the blood-brain barrier and sparks positive actions in certain parts of the brain, such as the hypothalamus. Acetate appears to improve depressive tendencies in mice.
  2. Proprionate: Proprionate passes into the blood and goes directly to the liver, where it likely has positive effects. It has been shown to prevent liver cancer.
  3. Butyrates: Butyrates are the well-proven heroes of the prebiotic story. They have the following positive effects within the colon and beyond:
  • Correct dysbiosis
  • Provide energy
  • Produce a healthy acidic environment that kills pathogens
  • Reduce triglycerides
  • Nourish cells that line the colon wall

Clearly more research needs to be done into SCFAs, but they appear to be extremely promising.

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