Numerous health benefits have been linked to a healthy gut, including better moods, stronger immune systems, fewer digestive complaints, and even weight reduction.
A healthy stomach is essential for a well-functioning body. So, how can we feed our gut microbiome so that our beneficial bacteria can thrive?
According to a recent study from the University of Illinois, including avocado in your regular diet can assist enhance intestinal health. Avocados are abundant in dietary fiber and monounsaturated fat, making them nutritious food.
“We know eating avocados helps you feel full and reduces blood cholesterol concentration, but we did not know how it influences the gut microbes, and the metabolites the microbes produce,” said Sharon Thompson, lead author on the study, published in the Journal of Nutrition.
People who ate avocado every day as part of a meal had a higher abundance of gut microorganisms that break down fiber and generate metabolites that support gut health, according to the study. In comparison to participants who did not receive the avocado meals in the trial, they had more microbial diversity.
“Microbial metabolites are compounds the microbes produce that influence health,” added the lead author. “Avocado consumption reduced bile acids and increased short chain fatty acids. These changes correlate with beneficial health outcomes.”
The participants in the study were 163 adults between the ages of 25 and 45 who were overweight or obese (defined as a BMI of at least 25 kg/m2) but otherwise healthy. They were given one meal per day to eat as a breakfast, lunch, or supper replacement. The experimental group ate one avocado with every meal, while the control group ate an identical meal without the avocado. Throughout the 12-week trial, the subjects gave blood, urine, and feces samples. They also stated how much of the offered meals they ate, and they kept track of everything they ate every four weeks.
In contrast to previous research on avocado intake, participants in this study were not told to restrict or alter their diets. Instead, they ate their regular diets, with the exception of replacing one meal a day with the meal given by the researchers.
The goal of this study was to see how avocado consumption affected the gastrointestinal microbiota, according to Hannah Holscher, the paper’s senior author.
“Our goal was to test the hypothesis that the fats and the fiber in avocados positively affect the gut microbiota. We also wanted to explore the relationships between gut microbes and health outcomes,” Holscher said.
Avocados are high in fat; nevertheless, while the avocado group took slightly more calories than the control group, they also expelled somewhat more fat in their stool.
“Greater fat excretion means the research participants were absorbing less energy from the foods that they were eating. This was likely because of reductions in bile acids, which are molecules our digestion system secretes that allow us to absorb fat. We found that the amount of bile acids in stool was lower and the amount of fat in the stool was higher in the avocado group,” explained Holscher.
The microbiota is affected differently by different types of lipids. Avocados include monounsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy.
According to Holscher, the amount of soluble fiber is also crucial. A medium avocado has about 12 grams of fiber, which helps you reach the recommended daily fiber intake of 28 to 34 grams.
“Less than 5% of Americans eat enough fiber. Most people consume around 12 to 16 grams of fiber per day. Thus, incorporating avocados in your diet can help get you closer to meeting the fiber recommendation,” she noted.
Fiber is beneficial not only to us, but also to the microbiota, according to Holscher.
Avocado is an energy-dense food, but it’s also nutrient-dense, with critical micronutrients like potassium and fiber that Americans don’t get enough of.
“It’s just a really nicely packaged fruit that contains nutrients that are important for health. Our work shows we can add benefits to gut health to that list,” said Holscher.
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