You can’t go a day without seeing at least one or two “avocado toast” photos on social media. Avocado is the IT health food at the moment and there’s a good reason for it. The obvious being its generous healthy fat content. Avocados are a mega rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids which, though not essential to our body to function, offer up significant health benefits if eaten frequently. Eating foods rich in monounsaturated fats can significantly lower cholesterol levels, particularly LDL (lousy) cholesterol, without affecting the beneficial HDL cholesterol. Extremely heart healthy! MUFA’s also help to regulate insulin which helps with blood sugar stability AND overall fat loss.
BUT, there is a catch. Avocados also contain short-chain carbohydrates (or sugars) called “polyols” which can cause major digestive distress to the gut. The reason why polyols may cause a problem to some is because they are not easily absorbed in the gut, which means they spend more time in the gut which then leads to fermentation by the bacteria residing in the gut. THIS causes bloating! Along with other digestive symptoms like passing gas, belching, even faster transit time (i.e. diarrhea).
Another common culprit is garlic, which is considered a ‘super food’ to otherwise healthy people thanks to its impressive nutritional profile. Garlic is mostly known for its immune-boosting, anti-viral properties thanks to a compound called “allicin”. But, garlic is also rich in a sugar called “fructan” which has a similar effect in the gut as “polyols”. Plus, garlic is a sulfur-rich food and sulfur is gas-forming in the gut which for some can cause serious bloating and indigestion.
Finally, beans/legumes are my last ‘super food’ (particularly for the vegans out there) that can cause digestive issues. There’s a reason why the ol’ saying “beans, beans, a magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you..toot!” exists. Legumes are generally known for their gas-forming properties because of their high levels of oligosaccharides, also a type of sugar that is not easily absorbed in the small intestine. Plus, legumes contain lectins which, for some, can be troublesome.
The reason why these sugars are problematic is because we lack the enzymes to break them down. But, not everyone will experience problems after eating foods rich in them. Those who experience a reaction most likely have an imbalance in gut bacteria or “gut dysbiosis”, a digestive enzyme deficiency and/or a fat malabsorption/bile dysfunction situation. Plus, a reaction can be a result of an allergy due to some inflammation in the gut/intestinal permeability.
My general advice for reducing symptoms is finding the underlying cause and addressing it accordingly with food and supplementation. Like I said previously, symptoms of indigestion like bloating are most likely due to gut dysbiosis or an overgrowth of an unfavorable bacteria/yeast in the small intestine which can be addressed via an anti-microbial protocol (a common root cause for IBS or irritable bowel syndrome).
My ‘Gut SOS‘ For Fast Symptom Relief:
1. A good digestive enzyme before each meal
2. A good potent probiotic w/ over 10 billion strains
3. Betaine HCL before largest meal or before each meal depending on severity of symptoms
4. Elimination of the gruesome foursome i.e. gluten, soy, dairy and sugar for 6 weeks
5. Elimination of all HIGH FODMAP FOODS for 6 weeks
6. Practicing ‘Rules of Digestion’ i.e. food combining, chewing properly and mindful eating (more on this in a future post).