Stewed Apples – The perfect food for our guts?

You may have heard that bone broth and probiotics are great for gut health, but what about stewed apples?

They are a super simple, tasty, and very powerful way to reduce inflammation in our guts. Eating them regularly can help with IBS, IBD, bloating, pain and constipation and other conditions associated with chronic inflammation.

How stewed apples heal our guts

The polyphenols in apples protect the gut by reducing inflammation and supporting the gut bacteria (gut microbiome).

Polyphenols are naturally-occurring compounds found in in plants, including fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, and wine. Once consumed, only about 5-10% of polyphenols are directly absorbed in the small intestine, while the rest make their way to the colon to be broken down by our gut bacteria into metabolites, which then have important physiological effects.

Supplements are starting to emerge that contain polyphenols for gut health. But you can also get these same polyphenols from regularly consuming super foods like stewed apples or pears.

Fibre and our gut bugs

Stewed apples are rich in soluble fibre, a type of prebiotic, which helps the beneficial bacteria in our guts thrive and these bacteria have a significant impact on our overall health.

Research has confirmed this: Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus bacterial species increase when we eat 2 apples a day – These bacteria then produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) which have been shown to regulate leaky gut (intestinal permeability) (1), inhibit the growth of bad bacteria, increase the absorption of minerals like calcium, help control appetite, and help balance blood sugar and cholesterol.

Sensitivity to apples and FODMAPs

While stewed apples, can often be helpful in improving gut health and symptoms of digestive discomfort, they do contain types of sugar called FODMAPs and showed be avoided if you are following a Low FODMAP diet.

There are also some people who have a reactivity to apples, and this may be due to a cross reactivity with latex or birch pollen. If this sounds like you, you may want to switch to stewed pears instead.

Stewed Apples and the Immune System (food sensitivities)

The effect of stewed apples is that they increase ‘immune system tolerance’ which means they help the immune system react to things it should do (such as parasites) and not react to harmless things (such as foods).

This may be due to changes in dendritic cell function and increased oral tolerance due to increased T-Regulatory cells. If you want to take a deep dive into food sensitivities, you can read more here. Clinical Education also have an excellent pdf which goes into the science behind all of this.

Why cooking the apples matters…

Both cooked and raw apples are healthy. Raw apples provide fibre, Vitamin C, and Potassium, and may reduce cardio-vascular disease risk for example. But when apples are cooked, they also release extra pectin – a special form of fibre.

Pectin improves the environment of our guts, feeds cornerstone bacteria, and studies in animals, have shown it to be anti-inflammatory.

What about the skins?

Unless you have a problem with the texture of stewed apples with their skins left on, it is a good idea to include them. The skins contain more polyphenols, dietary fibre, and minerals compared to the other edible parts of the fruit.

How to eat?

Stewed apples can be eaten as dessert, a snack, or a meal substitute (no more than one substitution per day), and can be cooked in the evening and stored in the fridge to be eaten the next day.

Cinnamon can be added as it is anti-inflammatory and helps balance the blood sugar spike that is seen after eating apples.

A capsule of a probiotic such as Lactobacillus GG, Saccharomyces Boulardii, or Bifidobacteria can be opened and sprinked on top of the cooekd apples before serving to add some beneficial probiotic bacteria.

The Recipe

Stewed Apples

Course Dessert, Main Course, Snack
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 people

Ingredients

  • 4 apples (preferably organic cooking apples)
  • 1/3 cup water (preferably filtered)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup raisins or sultanas (if required for sweetness - also provides fibre)
  • 8 to 10 almonds (for protein)
  • 1 knob butter (optional)

Instructions

  1. Peel the apples if desired. The peel contains fibre, minerals, and other nutrients so it's best nutritionally not to peel.

  2. Core the apples and chop them into small evenly sized pieces.

  3. Add the water and butter to the sauce pan and heat until the butter has just melted

  4. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan, cover, and cook on a low heat for about 10 -15 minutes, stirring regularly.

    Add more water if the pan becomes dry and the apples risk burning.

    Cook until soft with rough shapes, no longer identifiable as apple slices. The colour should be a russet brown with the cinnamon effect.

  5. Add any extra probiotic powders once the apples have been taken off the heat (so as not to damage the probiotics).

  6. Eat warm or cold. Delicious with yoghurt and cinnamon.

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  1. Lewis K, Lutgendorff F, Phan V, Söderholm JD, Sherman PM, McKay DM. Enhanced translocation of bacteria across metabolically stressed epithelia is reduced by butyrate†. Inflamm Bowel Dis [Internet]. 2010 Jul [cited 2018 Oct 21];16(7):1138–48. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20024905
  2. Bourassa MW, Alim I, Bultman SJ, Ratan RR. Butyrate, neuroepigenetics and the gut microbiome: Can a high fiber diet improve brain health? Neurosci Lett [Internet]. 2016;625:56–63. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2016.02.009