An avocado a day keeps the doctor away. Not quite the way the saying goes? Well, perhaps it ought to be. An avocado has a better nutritional profile than an apple, and without the sugar. There is no one food that you should eat exclusively, but avocados are an essential part of a perfect diet. One reason is that they promote all aspects of good digestion.
An avocados is a fruit, not a vegetable. Precisely, it is a berry — perhaps not what you normally think of as a berry, but it is. Berries are often highly nutrient dense, but loaded with sugar. Its high fat content and low sugar level makes the avocado a very unusual fruit.
Low fat diets are popular — supposedly fat is a bad thing. While there are bad fats in many foods consumed by the average person, avocados contain monounsaturated fats that actually reduce LDL cholesterol and are considered “heart-healthy”.
There are three primary categories of food: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Carbohydrates break down quickly into sugars, and living mostly on carbs (as many do) leads to excessive insulin usage and diabetes. Carbs tend to raise bad cholesterol, make your body lazy because the sugar is too available, and do not provide long-lasting energy. Proteins, on the other hand, cause damage in excess as well. Fats are the most energy-efficient form of food. It is hard to overdose on good fats.
The fat in avocados helps in weight loss, simply because the slow breakdown of fat means you feel full longer, and are not as likely to be searching out more food. Ironically, taking in good fat may cause you to lose fat.
Most advice on digestion and diet says, “Eat more fiber!” Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble. Most of us understand insoluble fiber, which you cannot digest: it passes along the digestive tract, holding water and providing bulk that the muscles of your intestines can push along. Sufficient fiber keeps all the food moving along, and the digestible portions proceed into the body as the mass passes along the intestinal walls. This prevents the food sitting in one place and basically rotting – movement is vital to good functioning of digestion. Enough fiber helps the food mass pass through the body at the optimum speed, giving enough time for absorption while toxin production from stagnant food is minimized.
Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel in your digestive tract. It holds more water than insoluble fiber, and tends to grab cholesterol and slow sugar metabolism. It is mostly indigestible, and instead acts with insoluble fiber to bulk up the food and help it to pass along. It makes some of the food less accessible to digestion, spreading out digestion across the digestive tract.
Avocados contain both types of fiber – about 25% soluble and 75% insoluble. They are excellent at providing the fiber you need, such that eating even just one a day provides about 20% of the recommended daily fiber intake.
Gut bacteria, or microbiota, are balanced when the good bacteria are available and well fed, while the bad, toxin-producing bacteria are not nourished very well. The good bacteria help digestion by doing some of the work of breaking down food without producing harmful by-products. Microbiota are a vital part of successful digestion. Sugar and toxins feed and favor multiplication of bad bacteria, which is a problem for many of us. Avocados favor the good bacteria, thus directly supporting digestion of all food.
Bacteria require food to survive, and different varieties of bacteria have different food requirements. Along with probiotics, which supply good bacteria, there are prebiotics, which are the food supply for good bacteria. The fiber of avocados supply fiber, nutrients, and fats that are great probiotics. If you take in probiotics, you may improve your microbiota temporarily, but if those bacteria do not have the food they need to thrive, those probiotics won’t be effective for long. However, probiotics promote growth of the good bacteria, causing a natural increase in their population. Supplying good bacteria and letting them starve is not very helpful!
Gut microbes can break down dietary fibers that we can’t. We aid our health when we choose living, nutrient dense food, both for ourselves and for our gut microbes.
Before modern farming depleted farmlands of trace elements, food processing depleted foods of nutrients in favor of shelf life, and plants were hybridized to increase sugar, people were getting their needed nutrients from their food. The avocado is one food that still maintains a high nutrient density, meaning that each bite provides you with more vitamins and minerals than most other foods. Avocado is a great source of folate, magnesium, potassium, most B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble. Since avocado is primarily fat, it provides the delivery mechanism for those vitamins. Avocados also help you absorb carotenes and other nutrients from other foods making them a great companion food to other vegetables.
If you are trying to lose weight, nutrient density is even more vital: with less intake of total food, it is vital that the food you do eat has more nutrients and less calories. Avocados help you lose weight while still providing high nutrition.
Published in The Journal of Nutrition, a study from researchers at the University of Illinois found that participants eating avocado every day had greater abundance of the microbiota that produce metabolites which support good gut health. In the journal Nutrients, research at Tufts University showed consumption of one avocado a day improved cognitive function, significantly improved working memory, and experienced a 25% increase in lutein levels. In the Harvard Catalyst, a Penn State study showed a significant lowering of LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in participants eating one avocado per day. In Nutrition, a study by Potchefstroom University in South Africa showed that study participants dropped their percentage of body fat with regular avocado consumption. And for those who will not give up processed meat: a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that volunteers eating avocado along with a hamburger showed a lesser level of inflammation markers after four hours than those eating the hamburger alone — the avocado had a protective anti-inflammatory effect even with bad food.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
Hippocrates said let your food be your medicine. Avocados are high in glutathione, the most important antioxidant in the body. Research conducted by the National Cancer Institute found that 1 ounce of avocado contains 8.4 milligrams of glutathione, but if the avocado was heated the glutathione drops to 0. The beauty of raw food is it is high in enzymes and does not set off an immune reaction like all cooked food does. The term is “digestive leukocytosis” means the white blood count goes up to attack the denatured proteins produced from the heat. When you eat raw, uncooked avocados you are boosting your immune system, not only with the vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants, but you are also saving your immune system by not putting in a food that has been heat denatured, setting off an immune attack to the foreign substance. We were designed to eat raw and living plant foods — even our immune system proves this.
If you would like help in your health journey here are the ways we can assist you:
Here are the ways we can help you in your healing journey:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.