A Kid’s Conversation on Butyrate (Fiber–To Way Oversimplify)

A trashcan at a food court in Salt Lake City, Utah

A trashcan at a food court in Salt Lake City, Utah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Whatcha’ doin’?”
“I’m reading about butyrate.”
“What’s butyrate?”
“Oh my goodness.  It’s amazing.  Do you remember those little bacteria I told you about that live in your colon?”
“Well, lots of fruits and vegetables and certain foods have this stuff called fiber.  And a there’s a special kind of fiber your body can’t use.  [Resistant starch for those of you who want a more intellectual conversation.]  But those bacteria take this special fiber, and they use it for food!  Then, they make this stuff called butyrate, which they can’t even use!  And guess what!  Our body likes butyrate!  Our colons eat up that butyrate and use it for food and energy, and it helps the cells fight infections and cancer.”
“So, they eat the trash we can’t.  Then, we eat their trash, and it helps us?”
“Yes.  That’s right.  Even the body recycles.  So that’s why we have to eat fruits and vegetables [and for those who know, also beans, lentils, and I have to keep working on my butyrate post…].”


I am reading and working on a butyrate post, a short chain fatty acid that the bacteria in your colon make–much to your benefit–the bacteria making butyrate that is–not my article.  I have told myself I can’t post anything else until I finish it.  But it’s Monday.  And that’s the day you all read blog articles, based on statistical analysis.  So I hate to let an opportunity slide.

My kids just woke up.  I try to read and blog in the morning before they wake up, which luckily for me as homeschooled kids, is quite a bit later than most other kids.  They file into our schoolroom where I read and write, one by one, in the morning to see what I’m doing.  Today, I was very happy that I was reading about butyrate.

I try to almost never use the word “healthy” when I talk to my kids about food choices.  If I have to use the word healthy, it means I don’t understand why it is “healthy.”  I HAVE to be able to tell them what it is that makes a particular substance beneficial or NOT beneficial.  And I have to be able to see the food from all angles:  psychological angles, physical angles, physiologic angles,  net-gain versus net-loss angles.  If I have to say “healthy for you” or “that’s not healthy for you”–I don’t understand the food well enough.  They’ll never stick with it all their life, which is what I’m trying to do here for them.  If you haven’t explained to your kids that you are SO lucky to have bacteria in your colon, you have missed a HUGE chunk of their nutritional education.  That’s a great thing to tell them, and then you can use conversations like this, which happened this morning in our home.

It’s time to take back our kids’ nutrition.  Take it back from the boxes and packages.  Take it back from the commercials.  Take it back from the schools.  Take it back from the well-meaning dance teachers, coaches, and Sunday school teachers.  (Ouch.  That sounded really harsh.)  Take it back from convenience.  Kids’ bodies and brains function way better on whole foods without dyes and preservatives.  You can do it.


5 thoughts on “A Kid’s Conversation on Butyrate (Fiber–To Way Oversimplify)

  1. Nancy

    I knew you didnt like the term “healthy” but I didn’t know why until reading this; makes perfect sense to me now!
    I’m so glad I know you!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thank you! You know the feeling is mutual! So we just have to stop and think, it’s not, “Don’t scarf your food.” It’s, “You’re not giving your mouth enough time to make its digestive enzymes when you chew that fast! Slow down and chew!” That was a rambling post, I’m glad to know somebody made it to the end!

  2. Pingback: Butyrate and Constipation | The HSD

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