An interesting webinar recently about autoimmune disease gave me a new and timely insight into how ‘functional’ foods are and what wonderful healing properties they have.
I was watching the talk while sitting at my kitchen table in full view of a bramley apple tree in my garden laden with fruit, when my ears pricked up as the speaker, Dr Michael Ash, started describing the incredible anti-inflammatory effect of stewed apple on the gastro intestinal tract and health of the micro biome.
Dr Ash described how two stewed apples daily could induce the equivalent effect of 10-15mg of steroid anti-inflammatory control in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and this was due to the pectin content of the apples.
The original research study was carried out on mice that had induced colitis and when given the cooked apple experienced the healing effect on the lining of the gut.
Stewing apples helps to ‘pre digest’ the carbohydrate creating a viscous quality rich in pectin that mimics the healthy lining of the gut and has a protective role against inflammation.
Every year we are lucky enough to have a huge harvest of fruit but sometimes the hassle of gathering them, preparing, cooking etc seems like a chore but with renewed enthusiasm I got the family apple gathering and had a big ‘stew off’ this weekend.
Having chopped a mix of both peeled and unpeeled (the skin contains added anti-inflammatory qualities), I added cinnamon sticks (another powerful anti-inflammatory), star anise (anti-oxidant and gut calming properties) and slices of lemon. Sometimes I add a little coconut sugar to sweeten but this year the apples are naturally sweet with a lovely red blush on their skins – maybe due to our late summer and sunny autumn?
Dr Ash pointed out that for some people suffering with IBD the equivalent of 2 apples could be too much to begin with possibly inducing symptoms such as bloating and flatulence.
Apples are listed as a FODMAP food (foods that contain a kind of carbohydrate that are not fully absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract and can be easily fermented by gut bacteria hence the symptoms of discomfort).
If you know that apples cause you these symptoms I suggest following the cooking instructions above and start by taking a teaspoon or two and gradually increasing the amount you can eat.
As Dr Ash suggested you could also add in some beneficial bacteria such as plain natural yogurt or a probiotic supplement to further support gut health.
So no excuse to the leave the apples to fall or end up on the compost heap – get stewing!