An Apple A Day Keeps the Doctor Away – but Why?

January 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Health


You remember that ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ phrase, probably devised by the Apple Marketing Board, but have you ever wondered what the basis of it is? Danish microbiologists think they have the answer as after feeding rates on a diet rich in whole apples, juice, or purée they found that this diet increased the amount of ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut.

Certain bacteria are good not just for our digestive health but may also influence our risk for cancer. It is apparently the pectin, part of the dietary fibre found in apples that produces an increase in the amount of beneficial bacteria in the gut and apples also produce a chemical called butyrate,. an important fuel for the cells of the intestinal wall.

The part to bear in mind is the ‘a day’ part of the phrase as you need to eat apples regularly and over a prolonged period of time but as apples are adult’s favourite fruit then that shouldn’t be too much of a hardship. What about apple and mango puree with your breakfast?

Three natural ways to reduce cholesterol

March 12, 2009 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition


With statin drugs continuing to get a bad press as the best cholesterol lowering solution, I thought it might help to remind you of the alternatives. First of all cholesterol is not evil, you need it for many bodily functions, and you don’t have to resort to drugs to keep your levels in balance.

A problem with the drugs, apart from side effects from eye problems and muscle pain to heart arrhythmias and liver disorders, is that new research by an Iowa State University scientist now suggests statins also could be affecting our memory and cognitive ability because they may be blocking the brain from making cholesterol which is vital for optimum brain function. Without adequate cholesterol from the brain, the release of neurotransmitters is affected and they are key for our memory functions.

So if you need to reduce cholesterol, try these three natural ways to do it:

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids because they raise HDL (the good) and lower LDL cholesterol (the bad) levels. Use Bertie Wooster’s favourite food at least twice a week – that means oily fish like salmon and herring, and walnuts, almonds, and flaxseed oil.

2. Oat Bran & Brown Rice Bran because they both contain very high levels of soluble fibre which has the double whammy of binding fats and absorbing cholesterol.

3. Blueberries, Garlic, & Apples are all good, but not at the same time – if you have a recipe that combines them, please keep it to yourself. Garlic and Blueberries lower cholesterol levels, and your blood pressure while the apples contain fibre that will reduce the amount of cholesterol produced in the liver.

Mediteranean diet reduces kids asthma risk by 78%

November 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, Diets, Food & Nutrition

With 1 in 11 children currently receiving treatment for asthma it is now a very common condition – but that doesn’t make it any the less worrying. We have dealt with asthma before, but some news in this week might help make life easier for some of those children, and their parents. For those who are unsure about asthma in young children, the symptoms to look out for are:

* A cough at night
* A cold that doesn’t go away
* A whistling sound when breathing out

That last symptom is particularly relevant in the UK as we apparently have the highest prevalence of severe wheeze in children aged 13-14 years than anywhere else in the world.

Now the medical journal Allergy is suggesting a way parents can be more in control of the condition through some simple dietary changes. I have talked about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet for heart health in adults, but now it seems it could also relieve asthma symptoms in children. In Crete, where the Mediterranean diet is the norm, an estimated 80% of the children there eat fresh fruit at least twice a day and almost that same number also have fresh vegetables twice daily as well. (Sadly the research doesn’t tell us how they get them to eat so much without a fistfight) So why is it important? Well very few children in Crete have asthma or hay fever and the researchers from the University of Porto in Portugal concluded that their best asthma-fighting foods were oranges, apples, tomatoes and grapes.

Adults on the same type of diet, who had asthma, were found to have fewer attacks and flare-ups. However, if they also included nuts in their diet at least three times a week then that produced less wheezing. A likely explanation for this is that nuts contain a lot of magnesium which helps boost your lung power.

AVOID THIS: There was however one substance that the researchers found that would double the risk of children getting asthma and allergic rhinitis – margarine. This finding confirms what an Australian study found over 7 years ago when they first warned that the polyunsaturated fats found in many margarines can double a child’s chances of having asthma.

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