Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Food of the Day: Avocado

Why it has taken me so long to sing the paean of the avocado, I couldn't say.

We have a history, this fruit and I.  My very first flare - and this dates me to the tune of over a decade, now - sent me to Ensure and crackers for six months straight.  When I slowly emerged from the malaise of infirmity, the first food I ate was avocado.  At the time, I wasn't quite so sensitive and could spread it on a tortilla to consume without inflaming my mouth and constricting air flow.  It inspired the creation of my favorite First Meal: tortilla heavily smeared with avocado and rolled lightly with refried beans. 

There was a CCFA NW Chapter picnic happily convening several days after I discovered my ability to move this marvelous concoction through my system with minimal damage.  Like a proud mother, I brought my Meal to the potluck where I expected everyone else to also present a panache of the most mild of culinary conceptions.  No.  Other people made salads and lasagnas.  Meals oozing with acidy, creamy, fibrous danger.  My little avocado-bean rolls were consumed widely and voraciously, nonetheless :)  But I digress...

Soluble fiber and easily digested raw fats are the best friends a Crohnie can have - particularly during a time of high carbohydrate consumption - and the avocado exudes these.  The reason it is always one of the first solid foods I reintroduce after a flare is a widely known secret my pediatric nutritionist shared with me: vitamin A.  Vitamin A plays an essential role in cell proliferation and turnover.  Of importance in Crohn's and the digestive tract, it protects your immune cells from damage (Bendich 1988), and keeps intestinal epithelial cells able to produce the mucosal lining that is so important to absorption of nutrients and other vitamins (Larsson et al 2007).

In order to absorb vitamins, you need fats in your diet.  Vitamins A, D, E and K in particular are fat soluble, which means they absorb best in the presence of the same enzymes your body uses to digest raw fats.  Avocados, endowed with their own supply of raw fats, are perfectly equipped to provide this resource. 

For those of us with severe obstruction, fiber is the enemy.  At its worst, it means stringy vegetables that just can't get anywhere; at its more benign, the bloat-tastic bulwarks of wheat and grains.  The water-soluble fiber in avocado (blah) is our redemption.  Probably the most helpful food following a flare.  Water-soluble fiber is the most easy on the digestive system.  Like other fiber, it does not digest/absorb.  However, it does transform in a fermentation process that gelatinizes (or slime-a-fies), which alleviates a great deal of the roughage of moving through battered intestines (Rose et al 2007).

When you have 2 months of nothing but starchy carbohydrates festering in your tummeh, as I do, soluble fiber is the most welcome gift of the gustatory realm.  I'm all about moving things along.

Avocado on dark rye (with a pinch of pepper because I like to taunt death).

Sidenote:  My mouth and throat swell whenever I eat non-boiled fruits and veggies.  Oral Allergy Syndrome is what some call it, and it is the most likely culprit considering the autoimmune nature of Crohn's.  Avocado in particular has become more harsh with time.  God help me if I ever get to a point where I can't eat it at all...


  1. Coincidence? I can't eat anything right now (how we can't!) but today had this brainwave that maybe -- maybe! -- if I had some avocado on tortilla...

  2. let me know if it goes well! how are you feeling 1d-post ER? i hope the tysabri ramifications settled after ransacking you.