Over the last decade, research has shown the importance of having a collection of diverse and varying kinds of gut bacteria in your microbiome. Without that balance, we’re wide open for disease. You could, and should, eat more fiber. But there’s one superfood that can give you all that — and the fat you don’t want…
Emerging studies are helping to paint a better picture of how even a small imbalance between our good and bad bacteria has been linked to everything from obesity, anxiety, diabetes and even heart disease.
That’s why there’s been a big push in the last few years to incorporate more variety of certain foods into your diet — some of which we’ll cover by the end of this article — that promote a healthy environment where beneficial bacteria can thrive.
Just recently, scientists confirmed another food we should be including in our regular eating routine that not only helps promote more good bacteria over the bad — but it can help you rid fat from your body…
How this green food makes your gut healthy and happy
Researchers writing in the Journal of Nutrition studied the effects of eating avocados on the microbiome.
They took two groups of people: one group ate avocado as part of a meal while the other group didn’t eat any. After 12-weeks, what the researchers discovered that the group who ate an avocado — regardless of what they ate it with — not only had more microbiome diversity, but those microbes broke down more fiber from foods while producing metabolites that supported better digestion and overall better gut health.
According to Sharon Thompson, the lead researcher in the study, said eating avocados lowered bile acid levels while increasing short-chain fatty acids (which can improve cholesterol!) which in long-term research were both shown to have positive health outcomes.
Another big plus?
Avocados are rich in fat. But the researchers found that even though the avocado group consumed slightly more calories than the control group, slightly more fat was excreted 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 Hannah Holscher, assistant professor of nutrition in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at U of I and senior author of the study.
An older analysis of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that people who eat avocados have smaller waistlines, weigh less and have a 50 percent lower risk of metabolic syndrome.
7 ways to enjoy an avocado a day for a happy, healthy gut
While eating a couple of corn chips loaded with guacamole is what usually comes to mind for most people, there are plenty of creative (and healthier) ways to enjoy avocados regularly.
Here are just a few ways of how to incorporate avocados into your daily routine:
- Add a few squares to an afternoon salad
- Add to smoothies for a creamier texture
- Substitute for spreads like butter or mayo — perfect for avocado toast.
- Add to scrambled eggs (after cooking the eggs thoroughly).
- Stuff into homemade sushi rolls
- Mix with chickpeas for a nutritional homemade hummus
- Or eaten straight out of the shell
If avocados aren’t always available — or you’re just not a fan of green fruit — a good alternative is macadamia nuts. Like avocados, macadamia nuts are high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and contain beneficial fiber for promoting good gut health. Macadamia nuts are also one of the highest sources of thiamine, also known as vitamin B1. Thiamine aids in the production of different strands of bacteria, creating a more diverse collection of good bacteria in our microbiome.
Aside from eating them in nut form, macadamia nuts can be enjoyed in other ways like:
- Using macadamia butter for sandwiches and spreads
- Substituting typical cooking oils with Macadamia oil (has a high smoke point)
- Making homemade macadamia milk if you have a dairy allergy
- Adding them to cocktails or even cooking them over a grill barbecue style
Aside from avocados and macadamia nuts, here are a few other foods that promote a healthy microbiome thanks to their fiber content:
- Beans and legumes (all varieties)
- Fermented foods (natto, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut)
- Whole grains like barley and oatmeal
An avocado a day keeps your gut microbes happy, study shows — Science Daily