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Short-Chain Fatty Acids

This is generally abbreviated to SCFA'S and they are produced naturally in the intestines from dietary fibre by the intestinal flora. The three SCFA's, acetic acid, propionic acid and butyric acid, have important functions.

The first two are stored in the liver and used for energy production, while the latter is an important energy source for the metabolic activity of the colon. It has effective anti-cancer effects and is thought to be responsible for the cancer-inhibiting properties of dietary fibre. Butyric (butyrate) is also used in enemas in the treatment of ulcerative colitis.

Different fibres produce differing amounts of SCFA's in the colon. For example, pectins from apples, guar gum and legume fibres produce more SCFA's than oat bran or corn fibre. See 'Pectin'; 'Guar gum'; For more nutritional information, see 'Nutrition A to Z' by Dr. Michael Sharon (Prion Books)

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