SCT Oil: Benefits for Brain and Gut Health
With the keto and paleo movements, the general population is becoming aware of the importance of eating healthy fats. Things that used to vilified like butter and saturated fats in meats are now recognized as important staples in the human diet. One more recent development geared towards the ketogenic community is MCT (medium chain triglyceride) oil which we now know provides the body with many benefits. An even less-known development is a new product called SCT oil which provides its own benefits.
In this article we are going to discuss SCT oil. We will address what it is, how it may benefit your health, and how you can use it on a regular basis. Similar to MCT oil, this specialty healthy fat may become a powerful tool in your paleo or ketogenic journey.
What is SCT Oil?
Fats come in all shapes and sizes. For the sake of this article, know that there are long, medium, and short-chained fatty acids that all have different health effects in the body. The length of these fatty acids is largely determined by the number of carbons contained within the chemical structure. This can also be denoted as “C” followed by the number of carbon atoms. For example, a common long-chained fatty acid is DHA which contains 22 carbons (denoted “C22”). DHA is the omega 3 fatty acid in fish that is important for brain health, controlling inflammation, and more.
A common medium-chained fatty acid comes from coconut oil and is called caprylic acid (C8). This fatty acid is used a source of energy for the body and is very easily converted into ketones. Ketones are a powerful energy source that can be used in placed of glucose.
A common source of short-chained fatty acid is butter. Butter contains an SCT called butyrate or butyric acid. This fatty acid contains just 4 carbons and is denoted as C4. We will discuss this fat more in-depth later on, but there is research showing that SCTs have their own unique benefits that we should not be overlooking.
Benefits of SCT Oil
So, now we know that SCT oil is just like other fatty acids except it contains only a few carbon atoms. One of the most prevalent sources of this type of fat in today’s society is butter. If you know me, then you know I always advocate for grass-fed butter as it is more nutritious and better for the environment. Now we can discuss the many benefits of including this type of fat in your diet plan.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)
Conjugated Linoleic acid that is concentrated in grass-fed butter. It is known to be a powerful antioxidant, fat burning aid, and cancer fighter. Research has backed up these claims showing benefits from stabilizing blood sugar, protecting from heart disease, aiding in the fight against breast cancer, and promoting a healthy body composition (1, 2, 3).
In fact, CLA was one of the top selling weight loss supplements purchased for years! SCT oil contains higher amounts of this important nutrient than butter alone. This makes it an excellent aid on your health journey.
Butyrate, or butyric acid, is an SCT found primarily in grass-fed butter. This short-chained fatty acid is also naturally occurring in the human body. As we pass prebiotic fiber through the digestive tract, our gut bacteria use this fiber as fuel, producing butyrate as a byproduct. Getting additional amounts of butyrate from butter has many health benefits.
- Promoting intestinal barrier function, potentially aiding in healing leaky gut
- Boosting metabolism and ability to burn fat
- Promoting a balanced microbiome
- Boosting Brain function
- Supporting mitochondrial health (which is critical for overall health!)
These benefits make butyrate an important consideration for anyone battling inflammatory bowel conditions, intestinal cancers, neurological disorders, and metabolic disorders (diabetes, obesity, etc.).
Improves Gut Health
Digestive issues are a serious epidemic today. Chronic digestive disturbances causes inflammation in the digestive tract, malnourishment, and can eventually contribute to things like autoimmunity (6).
Short chain fats are extremely easy to digest, requiring very little metabolic activity from the liver, gallbladder, and stomach. This provides a super easy to digest source of healthy fats that also nourish the gut and promote healing. In particular, SCT oil helps to promote a healthy microbial balance in the gut which is an important step towards healing leaky gut and optimizing digestion (7).
Being able to absorb fats is critical for your body’s ability to absorb and utilize fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E, and K.
SCT oil can help lower inflammation throughout the body through several different mechanisms. Chronic inflammation is one of the root causes of most diseases faced today including: heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, and the list can go on quite extensively from there.
If you have chronic inflammation, it will be extremely difficult to experience optimal health. One way that SCT is able to provide anti-inflammatory benefits is through nourishing the gut and providing a source of healthy fats. CLA and butyrate, as discussed, also offer anti-inflammatory benefits.
SCT oil also provides a unique nutrient called Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO). This nutrient aids in lubrication of joints as well as cancer-fighting benefits. This compound provides anti-inflammatory benefits through similar mechanisms as omega 3 fatty acids from fish (8).
Boosts Weight Loss
As has been touched on already, SCT oil provides metabolism-boosting benefits due to the presence of CLA and butyrate. These nutrients have a number of benefits that support the metabolism, provide fat as a fuel source, and help to optimize mitochondrial function.
Another big issue when people are having a hard time losing weight is leptin resistance. Leptin is an important hormone that regulates appetite and fat burning in the body. Leptin also plays an important role in regulating the immune system.
SCT oil can help to stimulate the leptin pathway in fat cells, which helps to assist with appetite control and, of course, your ability to burn fat (9).
AMPK stands for AMP- activated protein kinase. You don’t have to know the technical information, but basically stimulation of this pathway has many anti-aging benefits. When this pathway is activated, the body performs a function referred to as autophagy (10). Basically, autophagy is a process the body uses to get rid of old and damaged cells – making room for new and healthier ones to grow!
This is an extremely valuable healing tool for the body that is also activated through prolonged fasting and following a ketogenic diet.
The process of autophagy is powerful for protecting the brain, fighting off hidden infections, and helping to stifle the growth of cancer.
Finally, SCT oil contains an array of fat-soluble nutrients, two of which, are vitamins A and K. The active form of vitamin A (retinol) can only be found in animal products such as eggs and butter. This vitamin is critical for healthy eyes, limiting cancer risk, and optimal immune system function.
Vitamin K works with Vitamin D to ensure calcium makes its way into your bones and not your arteries. This means getting adequate Vitamin K is critical for limiting your risk of heart disease.
Ways to Use SCT Oil
SCT oil has many benefits. Now that you understand the importance of getting some short-chained fatty acids in your diet, we can discuss great ways to incorporate it into your diet!
While grass-fed butter is certainly an excellent source of SCTs, there is now a concentrated SCT oil product that provides these benefits in a concentrated package. I personally use this SCT oil almost daily as a tool to optimize my health. I have found it especially helpful in conjunction with my ketogenic lifestyle.
SCT oil is excellent as a cooking oil. This is because it has a very high smoke point of 485 degrees. A common concern of cooking with other oils is that they begin to incur structural changes at higher temperatures, turning otherwise healthy fats, into inflammatory fats.
Use SCT to cook pastured meats, fish, eggs, and anything else you usually cook with your old favorite cooking oil.
Add to Smoothies
Something you’ll notice is that I always advocate for adding healthy fats to smoothies and shakes. Whether it be coconut oil, MCT oil, avocados, or SCT oil. This helps to provide fat for energy and satiety, while aiding in the absorption of the fat-soluble nutrients within.
Try it in one of these recipes!
Coconut Keto Milkshake
Collagen Keto Chocolate Mousse (in place of coconut oil)
Blueberry Gut Healing Protein Shake
Cinnamon Roll Smoothie
Fat Burning Coffee
If you are someone who follows a ketogenic lifestyle (like me) then starting off the day with a fat burning coffee can be an excellent strategy to boost ketone levels and keep your brain sharp. This is what I like to call a fat fast. While it is not a true fast, it still offers many benefits as illustrated below.
One of my favorites is this Turmeric Fat Burning Coffee. Simply replace the grass fed butter with SCT oil and your brain will be on fire for hours.
Alternatively, you can take a similar approach with this Keto Matcha Green Teaor this Caffeine-Free Coconut Milk Coffee Alternative.
Boost your Bone Broth
If coffee isn’t your thing, use SCT oil to boost your bone broth! It is becoming pretty apparent that bone broth offers a number of health benefits for the body. Using your own homemade or store bought bone broth, simply add in some healthy fats and you’ve got yourself a keto-friendly and gut nourishing beverage.
Be sure to use a blender or hand mixer to emulsify the fats and make a nice frothy mixture.
Different types of fats provide their own unique benefits for the body. Short chain triglycerides found in SCT oil are powerful for boosting the metabolism, nourishing the gut, lowering inflammation, and much more.
Making sure you are getting adequate short chain triglycerides in your diet on a daily basis will ensure you are capitalizing on the many benefits it has to offer. While meaningful amounts can be obtained through consumption of fiber and grass-fed butter, SCT oil is another great way to maximize your health. This is why I have added this powerful healthy fat to the base of my keto food pyramid.