Before you spend a fortune on one of today’s exotic, super-fruit darlings, researchers have discovered a host of immune-boosting benefits in one of the most affordable, yet underrated fruits in the produce section…
In fact, researchers say that the soluble fiber found in apples— called pectin—delivers an incredible boost to the immune system in more ways than one.
Not only does it help fight off infection faster, it shows valuable anti-inflammatory properties, which can help stop some of today’s most deadly diseases in their tracks.
Researchers divided mice into two groups. One group received a dose of the soluble pectin fiber each day for six weeks. The other group received insoluble fiber.
Then, researchers gave the mice bacteria to make them sick.
The mice given pectin only got half as sick as the other mice. Plus, they recovered from the illness in half the amount of time.
Why the faster recovery?
The mice given the apple pectin produced more of an anti-inflammatory protein called interleukin-4 (IL-4). Anything that helps your body produce more IL-4 is a good thing, because it kicks your immune system into high gear and stimulates the production of white blood cells.
Scientists have begun to study IL-4 for its role in fighting cancer in humans, as it has such great anti-inflammatory power.
Inflammation can also contribute to major health problems such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.
But that’s not all…
A healthy immune system begins in the gut
Another study revealed that apple pectin also improves digestive health.
In the study, scientists fed rats a diet rich in apples. And what they found is that pectin boosted the amount of “friendly bacteria” in the rats’ intestines.
Additionally, it helped to produce butyrate, a chemical that helps feed cells in the intestinal wall.
Not too bad for one of the most underrated fruits in the produce section!
So the next time you’ve got the munchies…skip the chips and go for an apple instead.
Just be careful what KIND of apple you buy…
But be careful what kind of apple your eating. Pick up a regular apple in the grocery store and it’s probably got more pesticides on it than just about any other item in the produce section.
That’s because most apples at the grocery store have been sprayed with pesticides 10 to 20 times before you bite into one.
In fact, each year, a non-profit organization called the Environmental Working Group analyzes data from the federal government to come up with its “Dirty Dozen” list of fruits and vegetables that contain the most pesticides. Every year, the apple captures one of the top spots on the list. You can get the complete list of “dirty” fruits and veggies, on the EWG’s website at www.ewg.org/foodnews.
To avoid the pesticides found on most regular apples, you could certainly remove the peel. But that would mean you’re missing out on another important part of the apple: the skin.
Apple skins contain insoluble fiber that helps wipe out harmful bacteria and toxins in your gut.
Some people rely on produce washes to wipe away pesticide residue. But I’ve read reports that show these products aren’t any more effective than soapy water and don’t really remove pesticide residue anyway.
The only really safe option is to choose organic apples whenever possible. Yes, they will be more costly. But it’s well worth it.
Plus, here’s a bit of good news…
The Environmental Working Group website also contains a list of “clean 15.” These fruits and veggies carry the smallest pesticide load, so you can probably get away without buying them organic. For the tech savvy reader, the organization even has a free application you can download to a smart phone to have their lists handy when you’re shopping for produce.
Just remember to keep your apples organic. And eat them often. You’ll probably skip all those nasty bugs your friends seem to get every year.
Dr. Allan Spreen
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