We carry around LOTS of microbes. These microscopic organisms are mainly bacteria and they are essential for our health. If we combine our own genes and our microbial genes, we are only 1% human!
The genome of our microbiota is better at predicting our weight and our health than our own genetic material. Nurturing the diversity of our gut microbes is key to optimising our wellbeing, and our reproductive health. Let's look at one of the chemical communicators that connects our gut microbes and our reproductive health.
Short Chain Fatty Acids
One of the key reasons our microbes influence our health is because they produce special metabolites. Some of these metabolites are short chain fatty acids.
When our microbes are fed a variety of prebiotics, they ferment these essential food sources to produce short chain fatty acids. These short chain fatty acids have beneficial effects on the gut, but also exert positive effects on our muscle, brain and fertility.
Butyrate is one of these important short chain fatty acids. It can enhance our sleep (Szentirmai, Millican et al. 2019), improve metabolism (improve insulin sensitivity and reduce obesity), boost immune function and ensure a strong intestinal barrier.
Reductions in butyrate producing microbes have been reported in women with PCOS (He and Li 2020), endometriosis (Laschke and Menger 2016) and women with irregular menstrual cycles (Laschke and Menger 2016).
Butyrate is also beneficial for the reproductive health of men too! A greater abundance of butyrate producing microbes is associated with higher testosterone concentrations in males which is good news for making sperm (Shin, Park et al. 2019).
Why is Butyrate so Beneficial?
Strengthens the Gut Barrier
Increased intestinal permeability is associated with poor reproductive outcomes. Butyrate is known to repair and strengthen the gut barrier, reducing intestinal inflammation.
Butyrate also increases the expression of genes that reinforce the mucosal surface in the gut, leading to the enhanced protection against any invading pathogens. As a primary fuel used by gut cells, butyrate strengthens the bonds between gut cells, reducing permeability.
Upregulates Anti-inflammatory Defences
Inflammation is not all bad, but if you don't have enough good microbes, then the immune system gets disrupted, and the cells of your gut might suffer from inflammatory and oxidative damages. Butyrate can act as an anti-inflammatory agent, inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory proteins and upregulating anti-inflammatory proteins.
Elevated levels of inflammation and oxidative stress are associated with menstrual cycle disruption, greater menstrual pain, and impair the quality of our eggs and sperm. Nurturing the growth of beneficial gut microbes that produce butyrate translates to less inflammation, which is positive for reproductive health.
Regulates Hormone Balance
There is a close relationship between circulating butyrate levels and increased insulin sensitivity. Regulating blood sugar levels with insulin has been shown to improve ovulation, egg and sperm quality and is essential for successfully managing PCOS.
Our gut microbes also regulate our balance of sex hormones. While we have microbes that contain enzymes involved in hormone recycling, animal studies show that the short chain fatty acid butyrate can influence the synthesis of progesterone and oestradial synthesis (Lu, Li et al. 2017).
How Can I Increase Butyrate Production?
The best way to raise your levels of butyrate is to feed the beneficial microbes already living in your gut. Dietary fibre intake is one of the best predictors of butyrate concentrations and this can be found in foods like wholegrains, fruits and vegetables. Diversity in your intake of plant based foods will promoting a happy community of short chain fatty acid producing microbes.
The complex biochemical fibre structure of Fertile Gut supports gut microbiota diversity and enhanced production of short chain fatty acids. Our key ingredients have been scientifically studied to increase the production of support the growth of beneficial butyrate increasing bacteria including Bifidobacteria and Akkermansia.
Love your gut as much as we do to nurture your reproductive health!
He, F. F. and Y. M. Li (2020). "Role of gut microbiota in the development of insulin resistance and the mechanism underlying polycystic ovary syndrome: a review." J Ovarian Res 13(1): 73.
Laschke, M. W. and M. D. Menger (2016). "The gut microbiota: a puppet master in the pathogenesis of endometriosis?" Am J Obstet Gynecol 215(1): 68 e61-64.
Lu, N., M. Li, H. Lei, X. Jiang, W. Tu, Y. Lu and D. Xia (2017). "Butyric acid regulates progesterone and estradiol secretion via cAMP signaling pathway in porcine granulosa cells." J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 172: 89-97.
Shin, J. H., Y. H. Park, M. Sim, S. A. Kim, H. Joung and D. M. Shin (2019). "Serum level of sex steroid hormone is associated with diversity and profiles of human gut microbiome." Res Microbiol 170(4-5): 192-201.
Szentirmai, E., N. S. Millican, A. R. Massie and L. Kapas (2019). "Butyrate, a metabolite of intestinal bacteria, enhances sleep." Sci Rep 9(1): 7035.