NMU – 187 Avocadoes for Weight Management, Gut Health, and Immunity. Who Knew?
Nutrition/Natural Medicine Update No 187 (January 5, 2020)
with Dr. James Meschino
Topic: Avocadoes for Weight Management, Gut Health, and Immunity. Who Knew?
Source: Journal of Nutrition (August 2020)
We always thought of avocadoes as being a high-fat food, and I warned patients about eating too much avocado because they may contribute to weight gain. However, recent studies have changed my view of avocadoes in a big way. Recent studies have shown that people who regularly consume avocadoes are less inclined to gain weight and animal feeding studies show the same trend. This may be because, like eating nuts that are also high in healthy monounsaturated fat, avocadoes make you feel full and content, which shuts down appetite preventing the overconsumption of other calories, like carbohydrates for instance. But the study published in the August 2020 issue of the Journal of Nutrition was even more very eye-opening with respect to the diverse benefits of regular avocado consumption.
This study involved 163 adults between 25 and 45 years of age who were overweight or obese, but otherwise healthy. One group consumed an avocado at one of their meals each day for 12 consecutive weeks, while the other group consumed a similar meal, but without an avocado. All the participants also documented all the food they ate during the 12-week study period. The results were impressive and surprising. For example, even though the group eating the avocado each day consumed more calories each day than the control group, they excreted from their body, during bowel movements, a greater amount of fat than they were ingesting. This means that avocado consumption acts as a type of fat-absorption blocker, so you in fact absorb less fat from the gut into the bloodstream after a meal containing avocado.
How is this possible? It appears that avocadoes reduce the secretion of bile acids into the gut, which is needed to digest the fat we consume. If you can’t digest the fat you eat, then it can’t be absorbed, used or stored as calories by your body. This conclusion seemed logical, as the group consuming the avocado each day also had lower levels of bile acids in their fecal matter. Avocadoes are also high in dietary fiber, especially the kind of fiber that feeds the gut-friendly bacteria. A medium avocado contains 12 gm of fiber, in fact. Most people are missing at least this amount of fiber from their daily diet in North America and most of the Western world. As a result, the group consuming an avocado each day also showed a very positive effect on their gut microflora – the microbes, especially certain bacteria that are an important part of the ecosystem in the large intestine. With avocado ingestion the friendly gut bacteria proliferated or multiplied, helping to crowd out the unfriendly gut bacteria, and greater microflora biodiversity was also seen. This means that the avocado group had more friendly gut bacteria and a more diverse group of gut-friendly gut bacteria than the control group by the end of the 12-week study period. This healthy gut microflora effect has been shown to have a positive and significant impact on keeping the body’s immune system working more effectively to reduce the risk of infections (and possibly cancer) and is associated with a decreased risk of developing autoimmune diseases as we age. Many autoimmune diseases develop as we get older, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Polymyalgia Rheumatica, Giant Cell Arteritis, and others. Studies consistently show that individuals with more compromised and less diverse gut microflora appear to be at greater risk for developing these chronic, sometimes debilitating, and certainly life-changing diseases. Remember that one in 12 women (8.4%) and one in 20 men (5.1%) will develop autoimmune disease in their lifetime.
Deliberately ingesting foods and supplements that enhance and preserve your gut microflora is considered an important strategy to help keep your immune system working efficiently, reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases, and help maintain the health of your large intestine. So, including avocadoes in your diet on a regular basis may be another health-promoting strategy to help prevent weight gain, help meet your daily fiber requirement and support your gut microflora, immune system, and intestinal health throughout your lifetime.
I have included the references for this information in the text below.
1. Sharon V Thompson, Melisa A Bailey, Andrew M Taylor, Jennifer L Kaczmarek, Annemarie R Mysonhimer, Caitlyn G Edwards, Ginger E Reeser, Nicholas A Burd, Naiman A Khan, Hannah D Holscher. Avocado Consumption Alters Gastrointestinal Bacteria Abundance and Microbial Metabolite Concentrations among Adults with Overweight or Obesity: A Randomized Controlled Trial. The Journal of Nutrition, 2020: https://academic.oup.com/jn/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jn/nxaa219/5893497
2. Avocado Intake and Longitudinal Weight and BMI in Adult Cohort (Adventists Health Study-2): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6471050/
3. Microflora and Autoimmune Disease Prevention and Management, and Effect on Immune Function:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6854958/
4. Incidence of Autoimmune Disease: https://www.webmd.com/rheumatoid-arthritis/news/20110110/1-in-12-women-will-have-autoimmune-disease
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