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Newsletter Nutrispices

November 2015 - Issue 12


Dear <<First Name>>,

We all know the importance of the volatil fatty acids. They are produced through fermentation process in the gut. In the colon, these VFA are then used by colonocytes and/or liver to contribute to the nutrition of the animal. Our job as nutritionist is to contribute to this fermentation process either by providing the relevant materials for bacterias to ferment or by supplying these volatil fatty acids to optimise their use by the animal.
It is essential to understand how each of these short chain fatty acids are contributing and what is the optimal channel of delivery to ensure that they reach the site of action.
I believe that you will find some answers in the paragraphs below.
Fermentation of Non-starch polysaccharides and resistant starch in the caecum and the colon of the pigs and caecum of poultry results in the production of 3 major Volatile Fatty Acids: Acetic, propionic and Butyric acid.

The proportion of each VFA in the colon has been reported by Elsden et al. to be mostly of Acetic acid (~65%), Propionic acid (~25%) and Butyric acid (~10%). The total concentration of these acids in the intestinal lumen ranges from 60 mmol/kg to 150 mmol/kg. More than 95% of the SCFA are rapidly absorbed from the colonic lumen and used by the colonocytes. 

Butyric acid is the main energy source of the colonocytes. The oxidation of these short chain fatty acids provide up to 60-70% of their energy supply. The general idea is that colonocytes prefer butyrate to acetate and propionate and oxidize it to ketone bodies and CO2. Without sufficient butyric acid, these colonocytes would not function properly
The absorption of butyric acid is coupled with Na+ absorption, probably by Na+-H+ exchange. By stimulating sodium and water absorption, butyric acid acts as an anti-diarrheal agent.
It is often thought that most of diarrheas are triggered by the proliferation of “aggressive” bacterias. Actually, studies shows that 60% of piglet diarrheas are related to a lack of water reabsorption, bacterias development occurred as a secondary sign. By maintaining a high level of butyric acid in the colon, we are optimizing water reabsorption and limiting occurrence of diarrheas and wet litters. An increase of butyric acid level in the colon will result in an improvement of the fecal consistency (reduction of fecal moisture) and reduce frequency of daily stools.
Butyric acid has also shown some anti-inflammatory effects. We can refer for this to the work of Dr Canani (University of Naples).

How can we enhance the supply of butyric acid?
The amount of butyric acid formed in the colon depends of the composition of the micro-flora and the amount and composition of materials used by the bacteria to ferment. The following are butyrate-producing bacterial species: 
Clostridium Butyricum, Eubacterium spp., Fusobacterium spp., Butyrivibrio spp., Megasphaera elsdenii, Mitsuokella multiacida, Roseburia intestinalis, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, and Eubacterium hallii.
The production of Butyric acid is also influence by the content and composition of fibers in the diet, as for instance:

In situation of diet containing low level of soluble fibers (and especially of fibers producing butyric acid) or in case of immature gut micro-biota, the low production level may induce some issues for the animal as gastro-intestinal disorders and dysfunction of the colonocytes leading for instance to a lack of water absorption in the colon; diarrheas in piglet and wet litter in broilers.
In such cases 2 strategies may be applied:
  • Supplementation of well selected fermentable fibers to enhancing the fermentation process and favor production of short chain volatile fatty acids namely butyric acid. The optimisation of fiber regime is the new 'hot topics' in the field of nutrition nowadays. We have been thinking for many years that fibers only play a physical role for stimulating the transit. We are now discovering the importance of the fermentable fibers who supplementation in the feed will enhance fermentation in the colon with all associated benefits. We all have still many things to learn from the importance of fermentable fibers and I encourage you to try out different types of fermentable fibers to confirm which ones work for you.
  • Supplementation of a protected (coated or esterified) source of butyric acid (on form or butyrate or preferably of Tri-butyrine). The avantage of tri-butyrine are multiple. It prevents the molecule to be absorbed in the small intestine so that it can be carried over to the colon where it will be beneficial, it limit the smell in the factory where it could be a limiting factor for human operators and it maintain a high level of butyric acid in product (>50% of butyric acid per kg of product while coated form contains less than 30%).
Butyrate is a very common product used in feed formulation in Europe but it is still not used much in Asia. The rationale behind the incorporation and benefits of Butyric acid in Animal Nutrition is related to the physiology of the colon. We are still underestimating the importance of the colon in the digestive process. As I was mentioning in our June publication
(please read ARE WE FERMENTING ENOUGH? – JUNE 2015), our formulation matrix incorporates only value for digestion but nothing for fermentation. The digestive process of omnivores is 75% digestion and 25% fermentation. By incorporating fermentation in our formulation equation, we are opening the door to major sources of improvement.
I would be happy to get your comments on this view. Please, do not hesitate to share your thoughts on that subject directly 

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