In a world where superfruits such as the pomegranate and acai berry take center stage, the modest red apple often gets overlooked ‘” which is a shame. In addition tothe well known benefits of eating apples, adding this ripe, red fruit to your diet could give the health of your intestines as well as your immune system a boost – by increasing the numbers of good gut bacteria.
Why Are Good Gut Bacteria so Important?
Most people think of bacteria as being bad because they cause infection, but having the right kind of bacteria ‘” particularly in the intestines ‘” has its benefits. Friendly bacteria that make their home in the intestines help to fight off bad bacteria and fungi that can cause intestinal infections and vaginal yeast infections in women. They also help with vitamin and nutrient absorption; and there’s some evidence they can help relieve the symptoms of intestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease. These are the kinds of bacteria you definitely want to have around.
How Does Eating Apples Help?
When scientists fed rats a diet of apples in all its forms including juice, applesauce, and the whole fruit, the rats developed larger numbers of good gut bacteria. While foods such as yogurt and fermented foods such as miso and tempeh are known to contain friendly probiotic bacteria, the apple comes as a surprise.
How Does Eating Apples Increase Friendly Gut Bacteria?
Researchers believe it’s the pectin the apple contains. Pectin is a fiber-like substance found in the cell walls of plants, and is often packaged and used as a gelling agent for people who make their own homemade jams and jellies. Apples are a natural source of this fiber-like material; but how does this increase good gut bacteria? The friendly bacteria in the intestines like to feed on apple pectin which allows them to replicate and thrive while doing their good disease fighting deeds in the intestines.
The Bottom Line?
This may not be the final word on eating apples for gut health since human intestines may respond differently to apple pectin than a rat’s does; but there are lots of other health benefits of eating apples. The pectin makes them one of the most filling fruits around and they’re full of antioxidant polyphenols. Some studies show that apples even fight off Alzheimer’s disease. Apples are a fruit to rediscover the next time you visit your produce department. Be sure to choose organic if you’re concerned about pesticide exposure.