An Unpeeled Apple a Day May Keep the Doc Away

photography of pile of apples
Photo by Maria Lindsey Multimedia Creator on Pexels.com

“It is remarkable how closely the history of the apple tree is connected with that of man.”

Henry David Thoreau

Every so often, a so-called superfood gets its fifteen minutes of fame. Blog posts extol the virtues of the latest Instagram-worthy plant or seed that happens to be in fashion that week: acai, chia, bee pollen.

So I thought I’d pick something a bit less exotic, like apples, a commonly eaten fruit, and sing their praises a bit. A life-long apple-lover myself, I never realised how great they really are until now.

Originally from Kazakhstan, they have been a staple of the human diet over many millennia. The original, the Eve of all apples, still lives on there, in the wild, and has given rise to the varieties we buy in the supermarkets: Fiji, Granny Smith, Jazz, etc. 1

So what’s so great about apples?

  •  Well, they are inexpensive (yes, there are expensive ones, too, but a five-pack for £1.60 is pretty good, I reckon.)
  •  With hundreds of different kinds there’s something for everyone, from sweet to tart or something in-between.
  • They contain fibre1. Its job as bulker-upper may not be glam but very important. Bulkier stools are easier to pass and pass through quicker.
  •  And, let’s not forget, fibre encourages the growth of friendly gut bacteria which help you stay healthy by keeping the bad guys in check3.
  • They are chockful of vitamins A, C, E, and B9 (folate) as well as potassium, an important electrolyte1.
  • They contain flavonoids, plant chemicals that have antioxidant- and other health-promoting properties3.
  • They contain loads of good bacteria, especially the core (which most people throw away). Some evidence suggests organic apples have a greater diversity of health-promoting bacteria than conventional ones4 .
apples2

A bit more about flavonoids

Like our immune system, the function of flavonoids is to protect against disease-causing organisms, like bacteria and fungus. They also protect against damaging UV-light. And like antioxidants, flavonoids are able to neutralise free radicals2, those pesky unpaired electrons I wrote about in Eat This To Slow Down The Rusting.

Most flavonoids are concentrated in the skin, which is usually discarded by peeling. Some are found in the seeds2. Studies show that the peel contains at least twice the amount of flavonoids compared to the flesh, even up to six times more7, depending on variety.

A flavonoid telling a virus where to stick it

Can flavonoids help prevent disease?

Since the first discovery of flavonoids in the 1930s2, thousands have been identified; many have not7. And as more research is done, it seems these plant chemicals may be playing a key role in disease prevention7, alongside their more well-known colleagues: the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

But back to apples. Evidence suggests that the flavonoid-rich apple peel can contribute to better heart health. Eat an apple, unpeeled, and hey presto, within hours artery function is improved3. Better functioning arteries means lower blood pressure and better blood flow around the body and to the brain. What’s not to like?

Another study using dried apple peel ground into a powder improved arthritic joint pain in the subjects8. Maybe just eating the apple would have the same effect?

Of course, no food is ever a cast-iron guarantee you’ll never get ill; but decades of studies have shown that those who eat lots of fruit and veggies have a lower risk of disease than those that don’t. Fact.

So next time you’re reaching for an apple, leave the peeler in the drawer.

Until next time,

Petra

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  1. https://www.history.com/news/all-about-apples
  2. Clayton P Health Defence, 2nd edn, Accelerated Learning Systems Ltd, 2004, Aylesbury, pp. 82; 107
  3. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/for-flavonoid-benefits-dont-peel-apples/
  4. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2019.01629/full
  5. Clayton P Health Defence, 2nd edn, Accelerated Learning Systems Ltd, 2004, Aylesbury, p. 89
  6. https://britishapplesandpears.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Tom_Sanders_-_Apple_Health_Review.pdf
  7. Boyer J, Rui HL Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
  8. https://nutritionfacts.org/video/apple-peels-put-to-the-test-for-chronic-joint-pain/

PS. The amateurish illustrations are my own and have not been nicked from anywhere, promise 🙂

Why You Should Never Stop Moving

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“Training gives us an outlet for suppressed energies created by stress and thus tones the spirit just as exercise conditions the body.” Arnold Schwarzenegger

We live longer than ever before. Gone are the days when people in their fifties or sixties were considered old. Mind you, to anyone below twenty, forty-odd probably seems ancient.

You’d think living longer is good news. And I think it is. But not if those extra years are spent living with poor health, whether mental or physical. Granted, some things, like your genetic makeup, you don’t have much say over. Although there is some science turning that on its head, too.

But some things you can control: the food you eat, whether you exercise or not, getting enough sleep, and learning to take a more balanced view on life. Yes, I know: not always easy. And none of these are guarantees for long, disease-free lives.

But they can help to increase your chances of living a healthier and more stress-free life as you get older. And if illness and disability does strike, with a healthier and more nourished body and mind, you are more likely to be able to deal with whatever challenge comes your way.

Take exercise. It doesn’t have to mean joining a gym, if that’s not your thing. There’s shedloads of evidence that walking, for example, is hugely beneficial, not just for physical health but for mental wellbeing, too. In fact, regular walking can even enhance your cognitive skills. What’s not to like?

bicycle-biker-biking-1548771

A year ago I bought myself a road bike. Mainly because I was getting peeved with public transport (I don’t drive.). Over the years, I must have spent many hours at stations and bus stops waiting for delayed buses/trains, whilst paying for the privilege. No more.

In the last twelve months, I’ve cycled to work on average two to three times a week (about 8 miles or 12 kilometres each way). And it makes me feel good whilst doing me good. And the sense of freedom I get is priceless.

And when everyone else is stuck in traffic (which happens a lot in these parts), there I am, whizzing past in my Hi-Viz gear with a slightly smug grin on my face.

The point is, I’ve found something that works for me. And you have to do the same. If you don’t enjoy it, chances are you won’t stick with it for long. So find something that makes you look forward to doing it. Whatever it is. I know I look forward to getting on my bike tomorrow.

Use your own home as your private gym. You don’t need special equipment. Or fancy clothing. Tins of tomatoes can double up as dumbbells. Use the edge of a chair to do tricep dips. Or spend a few minutes marching on the spot, just long enough to get your heart rate up.

I brush my teeth standing one-legged, just to practice my balance. Sometimes I’ll do squats. No doubt a funny sight but, hey, it works for me.

I brush my teeth standing one-legged, just to practice my balance. Sometimes I’ll do squats. No doubt a funny sight but, hey, it works for me.

My point is, exercise doesn’t have to be a big deal. It doesn’t need to cost a bean. It doesn’t need to be done in a special place, or with specific equipment. Or done for hours on end. All it needs is YOU.

And if you’re stuck for ideas, check out YouTube — there’s lots of exercises. Pick out what works for you and make it your own.

Try and see yourself ten, twenty, or whatever, years from now, feeling as fit and healthy as possible and enjoying your life the best you can. Because I believe we all owe ourselves that much. And you get to set a great example to those around you.

Remember: we weren’t built to sit still. We’re designed to move.

Until next time,

Petra

References: https://psychcentral.com/news/2010/08/27/walking-is-good-brain-exercise/17326.html

How I did a 24-hour fast

clean clear cold drink
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I did a 24-hour water fast (allowing myself black coffee as well) between Sunday and Monday just gone.

Having read some interesting things about the effects of fasting on mice, where calorie restriction lead to a longer life span as well as healthier and younger-looking mice, I wanted to give it a try.

Humans aren’t mice, of course, but the research is very interesting. And who’s to say some of that can’t apply to humans as well? My guess is that those scientists, like Dr Valter Longo, will eventually be able to tell  us more about it.

Anyhow, I ended up buying The Longevity Diet, by abovementioned Dr Longo. I haven’t read through it yet. But so far so good.

I know I eat too much. And so does probably 90% of people in the western world.  There are lots of online articles on how portion sizes have grown over the past few decades.

For example: a plain bagel in 1993 weighed 70 g; in 2013 it had increased in mass to 86 g.  A 160-gram chicken pie in -93 had gained a whopping 80 grams by 2013. Just saying.(https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3343129/Take-portion-sizes-1950s-beat-obesity-say-scientists-warn-portions-20-years-ballooned.html)

Anyway, back to my fast. I must say, it was nowhere near as bad as you might think. For one, I planned it so that I’d do it on a day where I knew I’d be really busy at work.

I also made sure to start the fast in the evening — I ate my last meal around 5.30 p.m. on Sunday — so by the time I woke up Monday morning, I’d slept through the first half of it!

I had a cup of black coffee (nothing in it) and a glass or two of water first thing. I take a bottle with me to work; that way I keep sipping it throughout the day.

I had about three black coffees and loads more water at work. I can honestly say that it wasn’t unbearable at all; it was actually OK.

The thing about hunger — and I’ve heard others say this too — is that it comes in waves; it’s not a constant. Thank goodness. So, in that 8-hour working day, I think I had about 3 or 4 ‘waves’. Each one lasting maybe 10-15 minutes. That’s it. Really.

My weakest point of the day was when my work mates asked if I wanted a shortbread biscuit or two with my coffee. Or a chocolate digestive. I managed to resist but not without experiencing a few minutes of seriously wanting that bloody biscuit.

But that was it. The rest of the afternoon pretty much sailed by. Being busy really helped.  And I felt strangely energised all day, no dips at all. No headache either.

Tucking into dinner 24 hours after starting my fast, I felt as if I’d achieved something.  That definitely gave my confidence a much-needed boost.

And I also felt as if I’d done my body a favour by giving it a break from constant eating and snacking.

I’ll definitely do it again next week. In fact, it’s already pencilled into my diary.