I was never a huge fan of avocados – I’d eat them occasionally in a guacamole, usually when travelling. A couple of years ago, I was visiting friends abroad, and we made avocado toast for dinner. Minutes later, I rushed to the bathroom and curled up on a bed afterward. I was shivering, had intense stomach cramps, and overall felt as if I was disappearing. The whole thing calmed down after I drank a glass of water with activated carbon. I couldn’t tell what provoked such intense reaction. A couple of days later, we went to a sushi place together, where, among other things, we had sushi with avocado. The reaction was again instant, only this time a bit milder. It was then when I realized that the only thing that was involved in both incidents was avocado, and when I started googling “why does avocado hurt my stomach”, I found out that avocado falls under criteria of high histamine foods and that some people can develop food intolerance to it.
I’ve never eaten avocado since (no regrets).
Two Main Reasons Why Avocado Causes Digestive Problems:
- FODMAP intolerance. FODMAP is an acronym for certain carbohydrates (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols) which some people experience difficult to digest. FODMAPs are fermentable short-chain carbohydrates, meaning that they are sugar molecules linked in chains, and that bacteria in your gut feeds on them in a process called fermentation.
These chains need to be broken down and absorbed through your small intestine, however, since FODMAPs can’t be broken down, your small intestine draws in water to move the FODMAPs to your large intestine. The bacteria in your colon then starts eating them, producing gasses and fatty acids, causing gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or constipation. This intolerance often affects those suffering from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
What can you do about it? Stop eating avocado, for once, and check if there are other FODMAP foods that are causing your stomach discomfort. Other foods high in FODMAPs are fruits such as apples, watermelon, and stone fruits, vegetables such as garlic, onion, and cauliflower, legumes (such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas), dairy (milk, ice cream, and yogurt), processed meat, bread (wheat, rye, and barley), sugars and sweeteners such as honey, corn syrup, sugar free sweets. Here is a useful list of foods to avoid, and a list of low FODMAP alternatives.
- Latex-fruit syndrome. Research have discovered and studies shown a clinical association between allergies to natural rubber latex and certain fruit, which was denominated as latex-fruit syndrome. Those studies have proved that 20 to 60 % of patients allergic to latex showed allergic reactions to a variety of foods, fruit predominantly. Among the fruit involved, avocado, banana, kiwi, and chestnut were the most common. The reactions can vary from oral allergy syndrome to severe anaphylactic reactions.
What can you do about it? If a person is diagnosed with an allergy to those fruits, a diet devoid of them is mandatory.
If you’ve been suffering from any food intolerances or allergies, you know how uncomfortable or straight up risky it could be to eat the foods that provoke them. While diet restrictions are sometimes hard to follow, the benefits outweigh the giving up on certain foods. In my case, it wasn’t that hard to give up on avocados, but even if guacamole was my favorite dish – thinking back on how sick it could make me feel, I’d gladly give up on it.
*If you’ve experienced any symptoms of food intolerances or allergies, make sure to contact your doctor and run the necessary tests.