Gut health is a trending topic right now. The term gut health is used to refer to the balance of microorganisms that live in your digestive tract. This is also known as your gut microbiome.
The microbiome is responsible for many functions in your body, including aiding digestion and the absorption of nutrients, helping to regulate bile and vitamin levels, and supporting the immune system.
A study by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign suggests that eating avocados daily can drastically improve a person’s overall gut health.
The paper, "Avocado consumption alters gastrointestinal bacteria abundance and microbial metabolite concentrations among adults with overweight or obesity: a randomised controlled trial" is published in the Journal of Nutrition.
The aim of the study was to test the hypothesis that the fats and the fibre in avocad positively affect the gut microbiota. They also explored the relationships between gut microbes and health outcomes.
The study was divided into 2 groups. One group ate a meal that included avocado at either breakfast, lunch or dinner, the important factor was to eat avocado as part of a single meal each day. The control group ate similar meals but without an avocado. Each participant provided blood, urine, and fecal samples throughoyt the 12-week study. They also reported how much of the meals they consumed, and every four weeks recorded everything they ate.
The results showed that eating avocado with at least one meal a day lead to a greater amount of health enhancing microbes in the stomach and intestines. Additionally, the avocado group excreted slightly more fat in their stools than the control group. Greater fat excretion indicated the research participants were absorbing less energy from the foods that they were eating. This was probably due to reductions in bile acids the digestive system secretes to allow absorption of fats. The researchers found that the amount of bile acids in stools was lower, and the amount of fat in the stool was higher in the avocado group. Different types of fats have differential effects on the microbiome. The fats in avocados are monounsaturated, which are heart-healthy fats.
Avocado is an energy-dense food, but it is also nutrient dense, and it contains important micronutrients that we don't eat enough of, like potassium and fibre. Previous research has demonstrated high-fibre foods to be good for digestive health. Eating fibre is important for the microbiome, we can't break down dietary fibre, but certain gut microbes can. When we consume dietary fibre, it's a win-win for gut microbes and for our health.
My favourite ways to get my daily avocado are either mashed with a splash lemon or lime juice seasoned with Maldon salt and black pepper served on wholegrain toast, perfect for breakfast on the go. If you have more time add a poached or boiled egg. You also add an avocado to a salad to have with your main evening meal.