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New Research: An “Apple a Day” May Indeed Keep the Doctor Away

By Megan Tempest in Food on Apr 1, 2010 6:20PM

2010_04_slicedapple.jpg Today we report the latest news in the health benefits of the unpretentious apple. A recently published study shows the soluble fiber in apples (called pectin) may do wonders for the health of our digestive tract. We already know fiber ensures normal digestive processes (have you read the highly-informative What’s Your Poo Telling You by Dr. Stool?), but what about all those critters that live in our colon?

Researchers in Denmark completed a study that analyzed the effects of apples on the microbes that naturally line the digestive systems of rats. Why should we care about microbes in our gastrointestinal tract? These “friendly” bacteria protect our health by inhibiting foreign bacteria and toxins from proliferating and wrecking havoc on our system. There are trillions of good bacteria living in our guts right now and we all ought to choose foods to nourish and sustain them. In this study, the animals were fed a diet rich in apples, apple juice, and apple purée and their gastrointestinal bacteria was compared to the microbial content of animals on a standard diet. The researchers found the rats eating a diet high in pectin had higher amounts of beneficial bacteria. They concluded that as a result of eating apples regularly, the friendly bacteria "help produce short chain fatty acids that provide ideal pH conditions for ensuring a beneficial balance of microorganisms." They also found that these friendly bacteria produce butyrate, a chemical that provides fuel for cells in the intestinal lining.

Naturally, more research will need to be done on humans.