Stewed apples for gut integrity
Whoever coined the ‘apple a day’ phrase was really onto a winner. It’s easy to get distracted by superfood powders, blueberries and broccoli yet overlook the cheap, unassuming apple, which in our opinion, warrants equal superfood status. The health benefits of apples are many – they support the digestive system, blood sugar levels and heart health. They’re cancer protective, and are our favourite anti-asthma fruit. You can find out more on the benefits of apples here but for now we’ll take a quick look at how they can help with gut health and the microbiome.
How apples support gut health
Apples can be very healing to the gut, as they’re high in fibre and are one of the richest sources of the soluble fibre, pectin (which helps to add bulk to the stool). If you’ve ever followed a detoxification programme using supplements, you’ll frequently find gut-supportive supplements containing pectin are included, as pectin helps elimination.
Pectin increases a substance in our gut known as intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP) that protects our bodies; grabbing hold of bacterial toxins and escorting them out with our bowel movements. IAP helps protect against intestinal permeability (leaky gut) and has been shown to stimulate the good bacteria to colonise in the gut. In essence pectin can improve gut barrier function and plays a protective role through it’s modulation of the microbiome.
How to enhance the benefits of pectin
The key to glean all the digestive benefits from the apples is to cook them – we regularly make an apple stew and simply look out for the step when you see a shine on the sauce. This means the pectin has been released and is easier to digest. We also leave the skin on as this is rich in quercitin – an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory actions.
Easy ways to eat more stewed apples
Once you have made the basic stew, enhance the gut-friendly recipe by adding a tablespoon of ground chia or flax seeds, some pumpkin seeds and a few berries. This adds fibre and polyphenols that help feed the friendly bacteria. Apple stew is great for the whole family and can be used in a number of ways:
- Breakfast – in porridge, or stirred into yogurt with our homemade granola, added to overnight oats or chia pots
- Snacks – as a sugar substitute in muffins
- Desserts – in crumbles. My kids are currently loving warmed apple stew with natural yogurt and crumbled ginger biscuits as a nourishing treat
Note that apples top the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list (they’re the fruit highest in pesticides) so if you can grow your own, or buy organic, it’s a good idea. Our one caveat on the digestive-friendly front is that apples are a high fructose fruit – so if you’re avoiding high FODMAP foods, then they’re off the list for a bit.