The Amazing Health Benefits of Applesauce
Food as medicine is at the core of my practice and beliefs. By incorporating wholesome foods into our diet we can aim for a healthier lifestyle so we can enjoy an older age. For example, did you know that the humble apple sauce that we love is very healing and beneficial to health? For instance, apple sauce has been used to help heal the gut, improve digestion, reduce cholesterol, aid weight loss and improve mood.
Apples contain pectin, antioxidants and fibre therefore all necessary for ongoing health.
Our gut holds much of our immune system and immune responses. Damage to the lining of our gut, by harmful substances (e.g. pesticides, other chemicals, antibiotics, or heavy metals etc.), can increase the permeability of the gut. This allows larger food molecules and bacteria etc., to cross into the bloodstream, which the body sees as ‘foreign’. Consequently our immune response is increased to these ‘foreign invaders’. The body becomes hypersensitive and over-reactive, eventually reacting to even the healthiest of foods and sometimes to the body’s own cells.
Therefore, it makes sense to incorporate easily prepared healing foods into our diet to aid in the protection of our gut. Enter our potential gut saviour – pectin
Pectin is a type of soluble fibre, found in the cell walls of plants in varying amounts and provides its structure. Generally firmer fruits and those more unripe have a higher level of pectin. Apples have a particularly high level in the skin and pulp.
Traditionally, our grandmothers or mother used pectin to thicken jams and conserves, as it becomes quite gelatinous when combined and heated with sugar.
Pectin is fermented by microbes in the gut to short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), These SCFAs are a valuable energy source to maintain a healthy colon as well as for other tissues and organs in the body. SCFAs promote the growth of epithelial cells of the intestines and as a result, reduce its permeability. (Koutsos et al., 2017)
Apples are full of antioxidants and fibre which promote the growth of a gut bacterium, Bacteroides, which are more common in individuals with a healthy weight and so aid in weight loss (Rastmanesh, 2011)
Studies have shown that a diet of pectin increases butyrate, a type of SCFA. Butyrate is considered to be particularly beneficial to the gut mucosa because it causes cancer cell death and provides fuel for the gut lining (Licht et al., 2010)
Pectin appears to impair the intestinal absorption of glucose, by slowing digestion and delaying stomach emptying. It is thought that those who eat pectin with their meal have reduced levels of glucose in their plasma. This may be useful for diabetics. (Flourie et al., 1984)
Β-adrenergic receptors are important in the brain for neural transmission. These receptors decrease with age and may be involved in the changes in mood, arousal and memory observed as we age. Apples improve the function of β-adrenergic receptors by reducing inflammation. (Gemma et al., 2002)
Do I need to choose organic?
Studies have shown that antioxidants are highest in organic produce, however, organic produce is far more expensive. If this is of concern, don’t be disheartened, you will still get some benefit from the non-organic produce.
It is important to note that some people are allergic to apples. Others may be sensitive to particular sugars known as FODMAPs, that are contained in apples and some other fruits and vegetables. If you think you have food sensitivities please contact Davina for guidance
I have attached my favourite apple sauce recipe for your healing enjoyment:
Homemade High Pectin Applesauce
- 6 cooking apples (Choose organic apples such as Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious)
- 1/2 cup water (or more)
- 2-3 slices fresh ginger
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- Wash and core the apples.
- Chop the apples into small evenly sized pieces.
- Add the apple, water and cinnamon to heavy-bottomed pan, cover with a lid.
- Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly. Add a little bit more water if pan becomes dry.
- Cook until soft and the skin has a slight sheen, indicating the pectin has been released.
- This stewed apple may be stored in the fridge for up to 10 days.
- Add two large dessertspoons daily for a medicinal food.
For a delicious breakfast or as a healthy dessert top with some or all:
- Greek style yoghurt
- Flaked almonds or other nuts
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Flourie, B., Vidon, N., Florent, C., & Bernier, J. J. (1984). Effect of pectin on jejunal glucose absorption and unstirred layer thickness in normal man. Gut, 25(9), 936–941. https://doi.org/10.1136/gut.25.9.936
Gemma, C., Mesches, M. H., Sepesi, B., Choo, K., Holmes, D. B., & Bickford, P. C. (2002). Diets enriched in foods with high antioxidant activity reverse age-induced decreases in cerebellar β-adrenergic function and increases in proinflammatory cytokines. Journal of Neuroscience, 22(14), 6114–6120. https://doi.org/10.1523/jneurosci.22-14-06114.2002
Koutsos, A., Lima, M., Conterno, L., Gasperotti, M., Bianchi, M., Fava, F., Vrhovsek, U., Lovegrove, J. A., & Tuohy, K. M. (2017). Effects of commercial apple varieties on human gut microbiota composition and metabolic output using an in vitro colonic model. Nutrients, 9(6), 1–23. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu9060533
Licht, T. R., Hansen, M., Bergström, A., Poulsen, M., Krath, B. N., Markowski, J., Dragsted, L. O., & Wilcks, A. (2010). Effects of apples and specific apple components on the cecal environment of conventional rats: Role of apple pectin. BMC Microbiology, 10. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2180-10-13
Rastmanesh, R. (2011). High polyphenol, low probiotic diet for weight loss because of intestinal microbiota interaction. Chemico-Biological Interactions, 189(1–2), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbi.2010.10.002