An Apple a Day...
There is a lot of truth in an old saying like this one and I am in awe of the humble apple. I love how something so simple from nature can be of such benefit to our health. I would have to add it to a long list of vegetables and fruits that I love not only for their health benefits but because they are so delicious and versatile.
Because they are available all year round we forget that they are a seasonal fruit best eaten soon after harvesting in late summer nothing beats biting into a fresh juicy apple. This is how we are meant to eat, fresh seasonal food with all the goodness and health benefits from nature.
So let's have a look at what makes apples so special.
Water and Fibre
Apples are 86% water, that is water that the apples have purified and mineralised for us, perfect hydration. They also contain about 4g of fibre, which makes them a heavyweight for fibre content.
The fibre makes you feel full for longer which is perfect when you are using it to get you from one meal to the next. This is what makes apples such a great snack, they also don’t need to be peeled and are easy to eat.
One of my favourite snacks are slices of apple topped with peanut or almond butter. Snacking on an apple can help curb cravings for sweet treats and help to balance blood sugar.
Apples contain unique phytonutrients (plant antioxidants) such as anthocyandins, flavonoids, rutin, quercitin and polyphenols.
These phytonutrients act as antioxidants and have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and when combined with pectin which is the unique fibre found in apples they become a powerful gut healing food. In fact, apples are ranked second to berries for containing these potent phytonutrients.
Apples also contain malic acid, this is what gives some apples a tart flavour, it is found in other fruits but is particularly high in apples. It’s what makes apple cider vinegar so special, but that’s for another blog.
Malic acid has been used with magnesium in a supplement form to help conditions like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue this is because malic acid is used in energy production in the Krebbs cycle so the theory is it should help the cells work better at making energy but the effectiveness of this treatment has not been sufficiently researched.
Malic acid has been more successful when used in natural facial products as it gently removes the dead layer of skin cells leaving skin fresh and new.
Pectin is something you may have heard of, it is often used to help set jam. But what makes pectin special is that it’s both a soluble and prebiotic fibre.
Soluble fibre helps to bind to cholesterol in the gut and helps to remove it from the body, thus helping to lower cholesterol and get rid of other harmful toxins. Soluble fibre also helps to keep you regular and has a gentle laxative effect.
Prebiotic plant fibre is what the gut microbiome likes to eat and help keep all those good bugs healthy. Pectin is fermented by the microbiome and this produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA have been found to be important for improving the health of the gut lining. They help the body have a better immune response and are anti-inflammatory.
Apples also contain vitamin C, potassium and boron all important nutrients that help to keep us healthy.
Apples and Digestive Health
If ever there was a gut healing food apples would be a right up there for the award. This is where apples shine as they can help improve the health of our digestive system or keep an already healthy system in top condition.
The lining of our intestinal tract needs to be kept healthy as it is where we absorb important nutrients from our food. It is also where many of our immune cells are, so a healthy gut is one that can help to support a healthy body.
Calming an Inflamed Gut
If you have any gut issues that are related to inflammation such as IBS then apples can really help to calm down the inflammation.
Some of the phytonutrients found in apples such as the polyphenols and quercetin have natural anti-inflammatory effects. Combine this with the anti-inflammatory acting short-chain fatty acids fermented from pectin and you have a powerful healing food.
Dr Michael Ash a British Osteopath and Naturopathic doctor has spent many years researching the mucosal lining and immunity and the connection to keeping the microbiome and gut lining healthy.
He has found that cooking the apples makes the pectin more effective. His well-known recipe helps improve the health of a compromised gut and is also good for those who want to keep the gut and immune system healthy, especially in winter. I love the fact that nature always gives us the right food when we need it.
Stewed Apple Recipe
6 Bramley Apples - ideally organic or soak in water with vinegar and bicarb
1/2 cup filtered water
1/2 cup raisins
2 teaspoons cinnamon powder
Peel most of the apples, leave a few with the peal on to get the benefits of the skin. Chop the apples into small pieces and place in a pot with all the other ingredients. Cover and cook at medium heat for about 15 minutes stirring frequently take off the heat when soft
Eat 1 cup warm or cold every day, you can split it up into two smaller portions. It makes a wonderful addition to well cooked/soaked oats or oat bran. Or with soaked chia seeds which will be of real benefit if you suffer from constipation (this is the perfect breakfast if you are fasting through the day)
Having a portion with plain full cream yoghurt makes a delicious healthy dessert. Continue to have these stewed apples for 2 weeks to really notice the benefit.
Health Benefits of Apples
So as you can see from above apples are a powerhouse of good nutrition, here below are some of the key benefits:
Constipation - all that good fibre acts as a gentle laxative and helps the body get rid of waste
Stomach Bug or Antibiotics - have after a stomach bug or when taking antibiotics. Apples help to restore the gut lining and help feed the microbiome.
Immune Health - by keeping the gut lining healthy the immune cells can function optimally. Helping to keep us healthy through winter
Inflammation - Use the stewed apple recipe as a calming food treatment for IBS and SIBO
Protects Gut - against effects of NSAID’s
Bone Health - Apples contain boron and other minerals as well as a special phytonutrient found in the skin of apples called phlorizin that helps prevent bone loss in post-menopausal women.
Anti-oxidants - Phytonutrients and Vitamin C, help Immune health, skin and anti-ageing
So there you have it some facts to give substance to that old expression An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away