Nutrition and Health

Is Avocado Good For Diarrhea? Its Pros and Cons

Diarrhea can be an uncomfortable and disruptive digestive condition involving loose, watery stools. While it often resolves on its own, finding solutions to alleviate symptoms and recover more quickly is a priority for many. This leads to the question – could avocados be beneficial for diarrhea? 

How Avocados May Help With Diarrhea

There are a few characteristics of avocados that could make them a helpful food choice when trying to manage diarrhea.

1. Providing Fiber to Regulate Digestion

Avocados contain around 7 grams of dietary fiber per medium fruit. Fiber adds bulk to stools and helps regulate digestion. Soluble fiber in particular, which avocados contain, has been linked with reducing diarrhea. The fiber may help absorb excess water in the intestines, resulting in firmer stools.

2. Supplying Potassium to Address Electrolyte Loss

Diarrhea can lead to the loss of fluids and electrolytes like potassium from the body. Avocados offer a significant source of potassium, with around 14% of the recommended daily amount in half of a medium avocado. Replenishing potassium stores may help reduce diarrhea symptoms.

3. Offering Nutrients With Low Irritating Fats

The smooth, creamy texture of avocados comes from their monounsaturated fat content. Unlike other fats, monounsaturated fatty acids are relatively gentle on the digestive system. So avocados may be less likely to exacerbate diarrhea. And you still gain benefits from nutrients like vitamins C, E, K, and B-6.

4. Providing Calories When Appetite is Reduced

A bout of diarrhea often comes along with reduced appetite and difficulty getting adequate nutrition. The calories and nutrients avocados supply can help counteract this issue. Just half of a medium avocado contains around 160 calories.

5. Possibly Acting as a Prebiotic

Some research indicates the non-digestible components in avocados may have prebiotic properties. This means they could promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut microbiome. Supporting healthy gut flora may strengthen digestive health and the immune system’s ability to recover from diarrhea.

Reasons Avocados Could Worsen Diarrhea

However, there are also some potential drawbacks of avocados to consider if you’re prone to diarrhea or experiencing it currently.

1. High in Fiber

While fiber is linked with relieving constipation, suddenly increasing your fiber intake significantly can sometimes exacerbate diarrhea initially. The 7 grams of fiber in an avocado is a considerable amount that could cause issues if your system is sensitive.

2. Contains FODMAPs

Avocados contain some FODMAPs (fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharides and polyols), which are carbohydrates that may not be properly digested and absorbed in all people. Instead they get fermented by gut bacteria, producing gas and potentially diarrhea in those prone to sensitivity.

3. High in Fat

The smooth texture of avocados comes from their high monounsaturated fat content. While gentler than other fats, large amounts of any fat could stimulate the gastrocolic reflex. This can trigger the urge to have a bowel movement.

4. May Cause Allergic Reactions

Though not common, avocado allergy does exist. Diarrhea is one possible symptom of an allergic reaction, along with cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Look out for these signs if diarrhea develops after eating avocados.

5. Can Contain Foodborne Illness

Like any fresh produce, avocados can become contaminated and contain bacteria, viruses, or parasites that cause foodborne illness. Symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, and fever may appear if you eat produce carrying pathogens.

Who May Benefit or Need to Avoid Avocados

With the potential benefits and drawbacks in mind, here is a look at who may gain an advantage from eating avocados during diarrhea, and who may want to exercise caution:

Benefit Likely

People without avocado allergy or sensitivity can likely obtain benefits from the fiber, potassium, nutrients, calories and probiotic components of avocados. They offer a nutrient-dense food when the digestive system can handle fats and fiber.

Caution Advised

You may want to avoid avocados or limit intake if you have: IBS or chronically sensitive digestion, diarrhea resulting from an infection, never eaten avocados before, an allergy or intolerance to avocados.

Tips for Incorporating Avocados

If you want to try avocados to alleviate diarrhea symptoms, here are some tips:

  • Start with a small portion like a quarter of a medium avocado to assess tolerance.
  • Combine with easily digestible foods like bananas, rice, applesauce, or toast.
  • Avoid adding high fat ingredients like oils, creams, or fatty meats.
  • Opt for smoother textured dishes, avoiding chunks, skins, seeds.
  • Limit other high fiber foods at the same meal.
  • Stay hydrated with water and electrolyte drinks.
  • Discontinue use if symptoms worsen or allergic reaction appears.

The Bottom Line

Avocados offer a nutrient-dense food that may assist with diarrhea relief through fiber, potassium, and other beneficial compounds. However, they also contain components that could aggravate diarrhea if consumed in excess.

Paying attention to your body’s response and starting with a small amount can help you decide if avocados are the right food choice for you when dealing with diarrhea.

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