“An Apple A Day”

by Julia Worrall, RN

That old Welsh proverb “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” rings truer than ever today.
More than just a nutrient rich source of vitamins and fiber, an apple a day has the ability to reduce the risk of deadly diseases and improve one’s overall health for a lifetime.

Wow. That’s quite a claim! Let’s consider some of the evidence…

The ABCs (and More) of Apples

This “miracle fruit,” as it was dubbed by a Florida State University biology study, is a source of vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, antioxidants, phytonutrients, flavonoids, and dietary fiber. Antioxidants and phytonutrients help protect the body against free radicals, which are believed to cause cancer.

Free radicals are unpaired electrons that act like scavengers in the body. Dr. Lauri Wright, professor at the University of South Florida, describes them as “waste products from various chemical reactions in the cell that, when built up, harm the cells of the body.”

Dietary fiber promotes movement of material through the digestive system and increases stool bulk. It also helps lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels.

Another benefit of antioxidants and fiber is the increase in growth of the “friendly gut bacteria,” as it’s been called by Giuliana Noratto of the School of Food Science at Washington State University. Her team discovered that compounds in apples, especially Granny Smith apples, are fermented in the colon. The fermentation produces butyric acid, which spurs on healthy gut bacteria growth.

It’s important to eat the peel of the apple, as that’s where much of the fiber and antioxidants are contained, according to University of California Davis (UCD) Department of Internal Medicine Dr. Dianne Hyson. The peel also acts like a broom on the intestines, scrubbing it clean of unwanted materials.

Apples have the additional benefit of improving brain health. A study by the UCD Health System published findings that quercetin, one of the prevalent antioxidants in apples, was one of two compounds that helped protect cells from death caused by oxidation and inflammation of neurons. Another study by a conglomeration of Korean universities discovered that apple antioxidants reducedneuronal cell membrane damage, helping in turn to protect the brain against neurodegenerative disease.

Through their nutrient-rich compilation, apples have also been shown to reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.

Did you know?

The simple act of chewing an apple a day helps develop proper facial structure!

And that means promoting an optimal airway…which enhances proper breathing throughout the day as well as during the night while you sleep.

In fact, the benefits of actually chewing an apple cannot be overstated!

Through the act of chewing, the tongue is strengthened and the function becomes more coordinated. The muscle movement and bolus formation of the tongue contributes to proper facial growth and development. This in turn optimizes airway function, which directly affects one’s ability to breathe well during the day as well as during sleep.
Which is why baby-led weaning, the process of moving from breastfeeding to (healthy) table meals without using pureed and bottled baby foods, is strongly recommended. Chewing on solid substances, like an apple, exercises the muscles, develops the maxilla and mandible, strengthens the jaw and promotes proper function of the temporomandibular joint. The chewing motion helps the baby’s face develop down and out.

As the jaw matures fully, it allows space for the teeth and the development of an open airway, promoting unrestricted breathing. An underdeveloped jaw can lead to a smaller airway which restricts optimal breathing. We call this an Airway Centered Disorder (ACD). ACD’s can cause very serious health consequences such as sleep apnea, ADHD, anxiety, depression, endocrine and cardiovascular diseases. Small choices, made everyday, can lead to a lifetime of health, or disability for your child.

A Great Smile

Dental caries is rampant in our society. Parents are advised to minimize sugar intake. So what about the sugars found in apples?

Xylitol is naturally occurring in most plant material, including, you got it – apples!

Xylitol has been shown through several studies to have an inhibitive effect on both acid production in the mouth and formation of new oral biofilms. A biofilm is a secretion of stringy sugars, proteins, and DNA fragments into what becomes a protective coating around the bacteria. In the mouth, it manifests itself as dental plaque.

Xylitol exerts its powerful, anti-cariogenic effects against biofilms of harmful bacteria through what Hoffman Center Medical Director Dr. Ronald Hoffman called a “Trojanhorse mechanism.” He explained that xylitol causes the biofilms to auto-destruct by masquerading itself in the microbial fructose phosphotransferase system. It then interferes with carbohydrate metabolism and inhibits bacterial growth of those biofilms.

So by eating apples, one receives the added benefit of biofilm penetration and a reduction in decay-causing bacteria in the saliva as well as a reduction in the bacteria that can lead to ear infections. That’s a win-win!

A Prescription for Health

Between the multiple nutritious compounds and fiber it contains, the biofilm reduction and the facial development it encourages, the humble apple is truly a dynamic force contributing to lifetime of health.

An apple a day, it turns out, can quite literally, keep the doctor away!

Besides exploring the apple’s abilities, check out these two books that discuss the Circadian Code and The Dental Diet.

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