I am quite sure many of you are already fans of the avocado. I, for one, don’t really care for them. But that does not mean we can’t discuss the potential benefits this strange little food has for our gut.
Like many whole foods, they have numerous benefits. This is the strength of a food over a supplement – there are many ingredients in an avocado that allow it to be one heck of a powerhouse.
Avocados have two key elements that can feed good bacteria. They are a good source of soluble fibre – a favourite food for many types of bacteria. Plus, they also contain polyphenols, a type of phytonutrient that also helps feed beneficial microbes.
They contain several key vitamins and minerals that both the gut and the bacteria use to function. Avocados also contain all three types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated essential fatty acids. All three are beneficial for gut function and diversity of bacteria.
Now this may or may not help gut bacteria increase directly. One study found that the bacteria, in rats fed avocados, did not increase in comparison to the control group. However, the basic chow diet that the control rats were fed contained many nutrients, including fibre, that may benefit gut bacteria so this may not have been the best study for measuring an increase in good bacteria.
They did find that the good bacteria consumed the soluble fibre in the avocados and produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA)
The SCFAs, in turn, increased immune system products that help regulate T-reg cells, which are essential for maintaining immune tolerance. And we need T-reg cells to prevent inflammation and reactivity as seen with allergies or autoimmunity.
However, one specific food is never going to be the answer. The power of foods for the gut is in the recipe for each meal. If each ingredient has a role to play to support gut health, then over all quantity and diversity of good bacteria is going to increase.
And if you are like me and don’t really avocados but want to take advantage of their benefits, then try this: I enjoy them when mixed with fruits like mangos plus something that is a strong acid like salad dressing. I also like them when they are combined with sweet, savour and spicy flavours together. So be sure to experiment to find what you like best.
Check out of this recipe as an example of combining ingredients that are good for the gut:
- Hass Avocado Composition and Potential Health Effects, Mark L. Dreher et al, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013 May; 53(7): 738–750
- Influence of Dietary Avocado on Gut Health in Rats, Paturi G et al, Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2017 Sep;72(3):321-323
- A Healthy Gastrointestinal Microbiome Is Dependent On Dietary Diversity, Mark L. Herman et al, Molecular Metabolism, Volume 5, Issue 5, May 2016, Pages 317-320