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An Apple a Day

February 5, 2012
A new study recently published in the Journal of Leukocyte
Biology shows that antioxidants found in apple peel may lead the way to better treating inflammatory diseases. The study has discovered that oral ingestion of anti-inflammatory polyphenols (found in apple peel) can suppress T cell stimulation, resulting in colitis prevention in mice. Scientists found that apple polyphenols failed to protect against colitis in mice which were lacking in T cells, suggesting that these antioxidants work by suppressing T cell activity.
The hope is that this new information could lead to new therapies and treatments for people suffering from conditions such as colitis and Crohn’s disease. Colitis is the inflammation of the colon, specifically the large intestine, whereas Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the anus. Both conditions can often be extremely painful and debilitating when at their worst. So this news may prove heartening for sufferers.
Colitis treatment
“Many people with colitis use some form of dietary supplement to complement conventional therapies, but most of the information on the health effects of complementary medicine remains anecdotal. Also, little is known about exactly how these therapies work, if they work at all,” said David W. Pascual, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the study at the Department of Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana. “Our results show that a natural product found in apple peels can suppress colonic inflammation by antagonizing inflammatory T cells to enhance resistance against autoimmune disease.”
Polyphenols are found in a number of food stuffs, including green tea (you can read our article on the benefits of green tea here) and red wine. However, the apple polyphenols are slightly different, as they are water soluble. Polyphenol-rich diets have been shown to not only help with inflammatory diseases, but also to promote better heart health, and even lower cancer rates.
Blood fat drop
The good news doesn’t stop there. When these antioxidants are combined with a form of fibre called pectin, which is also found in apples, this can help lower blood fat levels. However, this can only happen with regular consumption of unpeeled apples, meaning that to see any possible benefits you should eat at least one apple a day.
Deputy Editor of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology, John Wherry, Ph.D., said, “In addition to the obvious health benefits of the nutrients and fibre in fruits and vegetables, this study indicates that even something as relatively common as the apple contains other healthy ingredients that can have serious therapeutic value.”
Apples are proving to be an all-round perfect health food, with growing evidence that ‘an apple a day’ really can keep
the doctor away. Other apple-eating benefits include:

  • Stabilizing blood sugar levels
    – The Pectin found in apples has been linked to lower risk of insulin resistance and less likelihood of developing pre-diabetes.

  • Weight control
    – Another benefit of Pectin is that it can reduce appetite, because it is a filling form of fibre. This makes apples the perfect snack if you’re trying to manage your weight.

  • Improved allergy symptoms
    – Quercetin is another anti-inflammatory found in apples, and is a natural antihistamine. Studies have shown that children who regularly eat apples have lower rates of asthma. It can also help improve allergy symptoms in adults.

  • Alzheimer’s prevention
    – Researchers at Cornell University have found another use for Quercetin, discovering that it may protect brain cells from free radical damage that can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Although all apples contain these nutrients, organic apples have been shown to contain greater concentrations. Studies from Britain, France, Poland and the US all agree that organic apples contain higher amounts of vitamin C, polyphenols, betacarotene and flavonoids. Many of the same benefits can be gained from consuming apple products, such as apple juice, or apple cider vinegar. For example, apple cider vinegar has long been known to treat a whole host of different ailments, from allergies, sickness, even muscle spasms. With the latter, cider vinegar can help by either consuming orally in some water, or by rubbing it directly onto the affected area. It can ease cramping almost immediately.
So while it’s great to keep up to date with all the latest super fruits and wonder grains, and latest gadgets and products that can help us lead more healthy and natural lifestyles – such as the juicer, the all-natural mattress or the vegan shoe – it pays not to forget the humble, simple apple.
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