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Why an Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away.

Byline: Monika Rice

Apples Keep the Gut Healthy

A team of Danish microbiologists fed one group of rats a diet rich in whole apples, apple juice, puree, and pomace and put another group on a control diet to see if the apple-rich diet had any impact on the number of "friendly" bacteria in the intestines. As it turned out, the animals on the apple diet -- a diet naturally rich in pectin (a dietary fiber) -- had increased amounts of the types of bacteria believed to improve intestinal health. When we eat apples on a regular basis and over a prolonged period of time, say the researchers, the bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids that provide the ideal pH condition in the intestines, a condition that ensures that a beneficial balance of microorganisms can thrive. The bacteria also produce a chemical called butyrate, which is an important fuel for the cells of the intestinal wall. Cultivating so-called "friendly" bacteria in the gut is important, as they are an integral part of our immune system and contribute to overall health. (BioMed Central, Jan. 2010)

Botanicals That Fight Inflammation

Plants that contain essential oils have long been a component of home remedies and are used for their aromatherapy, analgesic (e.g., cough drops), and antibacterial properties. New research from Japan has now found that the essential oils from six common herbs and botanicals -- thyme, clove, rose, eucalyptus, fennel, and bergamot -- can suppress the inflammatory COX-2 enzyme in a manner similar to resveratrol, the chemical in red wine that has been linked to many health benefits. When the researchers tested the essential oils, they found thyme oil to be the most active, reducing the inflammatory enzyme COX-2 levels by almost 75 percent. When the thyme oil was analyzed and its major antiinflammatory component, carvacrol, isolated and tested as a pure substance, it reduced the COX-2 enzyme levels by over 80 percent. These are important findings because COX-2 enzyme is responsible for many inflammatory responses in the body, such as pain and swelling, and usually can be blocked only by common anti-inflammatory drugs. (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Jan. 2010)

Mangoes Help Prevent Cancer

A new study by Texas AgriLife Research food scientists reports that mangoes could play an important part in our diet to prevent certain cancers. When the researchers examined the five varieties most common in the United States -- Kent, Francine, Ataulfo (Champagne), Tommy (Atkins), and Haden -- for their nutritional value, they discovered that the fruits had some impact on various types of cancer cells. Further tests then showed that the fruit had the most impact on breast and colon cancer cells. When mango was brought in contact with breast and colon cancer cells, the malignant cells underwent apoptosis, or programmed cell death, while the surrounding healthy cells remained unharmed. Although more studies are needed, the scientists concluded that mangoes' anti-cancer benefits can be attributed to gallotannins, a class of polyphenols that target, in a natural way, cells on the verge of mutation by disrupting their division cycle. (Texas AM AgriLife Communications, Jan. 2010)
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Publication:Spirituality & Health Magazine
Date:May 1, 2010
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