Short-Chain Fatty Acids: Gut-Derived Brain Control

Short-Chain Fatty Acids in Your DietWe wanted to give you further insight into how to protect and keep your brain healthy. One of the main ways to do this is by how you eat.

What you eat affects much more than just your waistline and your bathroom habits. 

When you eat, a whole chemical reaction is ignited within your body. A cascade of events that give meaning to the phrase “you are what you eat.” One of the main reasons your diet affects your entire body is your gut microbiome and the chemicals released from it. 

One of the most important groups of life-altering compounds is short-chain fatty acids, a postbiotic. 

What are Short-Chain Fatty Acids?

Short-chain fatty acids are small organic monocarboxylic acids. That’s the scientific definition for you. We could get into a full chemistry lesson, but that’s not extremely important to your understanding of them. 

What you do need to know about them is that short-chain fatty acids are signaling molecules. They’re used throughout your body to initiate and continue important processes.

There are three main short-chain fatty acids (SCFA): butyrate, acetate, and propionate. Each one has an enormous impact on your health. 

Where Do Short-Chain Fatty Acids Come From?

When you eat non-digestible carbohydrates, your digestive enzymes aren’t capable of completely breaking them down for your body to use. Some examples of non-digestible carbs include insoluble fiber, prebiotics, polyphenols, and starches. 

These non-digestible carbs are passed along to your colon where they can be fermented by your gut bacteria. This type of food makes your microbiota happy. They’re able to feed off of these and then produce even more healthy bacteria to improve your microbial diversity (which has been proven to be linked to better overall body health).

One of the many results of the fermentation process (in addition to improved microbial diversity) is the production of postbiotics. Postbiotics are the byproducts of bacterial fermentation. One of the most important postbiotics to your body is SCFA. 

How Do Short-Chain Fatty Acids Affect Your Gut and Brain?

It makes sense how SCFA would affect your gut, being that they’re fermented there. They help to repair your intestinal wall to prevent it from allowing your gut bacteria to escape. This protects your body from dealing with an unnecessary inflammatory response that happens when bacteria translocate. 

Inflammation is the source of pretty much every disease you can think of. So by keeping your microbiota where they belong, you keep your body healthy and safe. SCFA are the best way to do this.

Many brain complications start in the gut. 

Your gut can transport SCFA via messenger cells and hormones. It’s called the gut-brain axis and that’s how your dietary choices can manipulate your brain and every other part of your body.

While your colonocytes will absorb a lot of the SCFA (especially butyrate) some are passed along to your liver through the portal vein. During this transfer, some SCFA are able to escape and be circulated throughout your entire body. 

When this happens with bacteria, it’s a bad thing, but when it comes to SCFA it’s actually one of the best things for your body.

What Positive Effects Do Short-Chain Fatty Acids Have on the Brain?

Let’s talk about the physical parts of your nervous system that are affected first. 

Glial and Microglial Cells

Glial and microglial cells are extremely important for cleaning out dysfunctional synaptic connections. Synapses are the spaces between neurons (nerve cells) that allow one neuron to communicate with the next. Glial and microglial cells allow for healthy connections to be made by clearing out the dead weight. 

Microglia are essential for brain maturation. Studies have shown that the three main SCFA are helpful in bringing microglia to maturation so their functionality is optimal. SCFA help to reduce inflammation that makes microglia malfunction. 


Neurons help with the communication of your nervous system. They cross-talk through neurotransmitters (chemical messengers). Neurons are protected by neurotrophic factors like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), nerve growth factor (NGF), and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF). 

Neurotrophic factors help manage the growth, survival, and differentiation of neurons. Both neurotrophic factors and neurotransmitters are influenced by SCFA. 

By influencing neurons in this way, SCFA are beneficial for healthy  

  • Memory
  • Learning
  • Cognition
  • Mood
  • Brain chemistry
  • Appetite control


The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids in Disease

Imbalances of SCFA are found in many diseases. Whether this is a cause or effect isn’t definitive, however, there is an obvious link that researchers are constantly trying to pin down. 

Mood Disorders

A link between SCFA levels and certain mood disorders was found. The major mood disorders that were studied include:

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Major Depression
  • Psychosocial Stress
  • Behavioral Hyperactivity

SCFA help to reduce the excessive inflammatory biomarkers commonly noted in these diseases. They also help to improve energy and sociability impairments often seen in mood disorders. 

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)

Beta-amyloid plaques are the hallmark sign of AD. Symptoms of these plaques are memory and cognitive loss along with a decline of physical capabilities. 

Cases of dysbiosis tend to worsen as the disease progresses which has lead to numerous studies on diets that can help with AD. What is common across the diets that are the most promising is that they’re full of polyphenols and other prebiotics. 

SCFA, then, are a byproduct of all of these diets. SCFA were found to disrupt the formation of beta-amyloid plaques. When SCFA shuts down or prevents this process from happening the outcomes for AD are significantly improved. 

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

SCFA were found to be beneficial in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.

With MS, your myelin sheath (the protective coating on your motor neurons) is damaged. SCFA helped to not only prevent further demyelination but also repaired the damaged myelin sheath in some studies. 

Getting More Short-Chain Fatty Acids in Your Diet

Following diet models like the Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet, you’ll be exposing your body to tons of beneficial SCFA. Eating foods that are mostly plant-based will help to increase these little superheroes in your body. 

Foods high in polyphenols and dietary fiber like fruits and veggies will set you up for health success. Certain prebiotic-based supplements, like Atrantil, can also provide you with SCFA.

Whatever you do, focusing on increasing the amount of SCFA in your diet will help you achieve most, if not all, of your health goals. So grab some fruit, go on a walk, and cheers with your water to good health and SCFA! 

Talk with your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet. But once you have the okay, grab your daily dose of SCFA in a bottle of Atrantil at this link → 

Short-Chain Fatty Acids: Gut-Derived Brain Control