Patients are always looking for something that is easy to do when it comes to their health. So, eating more fruits and vegetables can be challenging for many; however, transitioning to a healthy diet can begin with something as simple as eating an apple every day. The old adage, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is still quite popular, and the latest data suggest that it is quite true. Indeed, epidemiological studies have linked the consumption of apples to reduced risk of asthma, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers.1
Apples contain a variety of phytochemicals, including quercetin, catechin, phloridzin and chlorogenic acid, all of which are strong antioxidants. In the laboratory, apples have been found to have very strong antioxidant activity, inhibit cancer cell proliferation, decrease lipid oxidation, and lower cholesterol.
Concerning cholesterol, the use of statin drugs may propose a significant health risk for many patients.2 And, it has been estimated that the United States will spend 30 billion dollars per year on cholesterol treatment by statin drugs.1 An apple a day and some coenzyme Q10 may turn out to be an extremely helpful option for these patients.
The Antioxidant Power of an Apple
When antioxidants are the subject of conversation, it is very common for people to think of vitamin C and E. The amount of vitamin C in an apple is only about 6 mg; however, the total antioxidant activity of apples with the peel is equivalent to approximately 1,500 mg of vitamin C.1 This speaks to the importance of getting our antioxidants, specifically as phytochemicals, from our fruits and vegetables. The only supplement that rivals eating fruits and vegetables would be a “green drink” whose powder was derived from fruits and veggies. In this regard, consider the following:
Rats fed apple juice had a decreased level of malondialdehyde (MDA), a marker of lipid peroxidation and free radical damage. Quercetin, a major flavonoid in apples, had no effect on lipid oxidation when ingested by rats, suggesting that quercetin alone is not responsible for the apple’s ability to inhibit lipid oxidation.1
Eating the entire apple is important. While the fruit contains phytochemicals, the peel is where they concentrate.
While antioxidant and phytochemical supplements can help, they do not replace the consumption of fruits and vegetables…this is a simple law of nutrition that we all must deal with. Alas, it would nice if we could live on cake and take a magic supplement to make up for it, but we can’t.
Nutritional Adjustment Recommendations
Ultimately our patients, and we as their doctors, should drop the consumption of all packaged foods, as well as grains and grain/flour products. With this effort, we will reduce the over consumption of pro-inflammatory trans fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids.
Our food focus should be vegetables, fruits, grass-fed beef (and lamb, etc.), chicken, wild game, omega-3 eggs, and fresh fish. Foods should be cooked in coconut oil, and coconut oil can be added to smoothies. Olive oil should be used to make salad dressings. Green tea should be the non-water beverage of choice, and we should drink about ½ gallon or so of water per day. I also suggest supplementing with a multivitamin, magnesium (500-1000 mg/day), maybe calcium (500-1000 mg/day), EPA/DHA (1-2 grams/day), and coenzyme Q10 (100 mg/day).
For many patients and doctors, adhering to such a regimen can initially be difficult, partly because many individuals have adopted the notion that they “live to eat.” Ideally, we should be “eating to live,” and adopting this motto can help provide the needed will power to avoid temptation.
For those patients who struggle with food, get them to try eating an apple or two every day. Make this their first anti-inflammatory and nutritional adjustment dietary goal. If you, the doc, also struggle with food, then go for it with your patients. If you and your patients don’t take supplements then, at least, begin with a multivitamin/mineral and work up to taking magnesium, EPA/DHA, and coenzyme Q10.
Dr. Seaman is the Clinical Chiropractic Consultant for Anabolic Laboratories, one of the first supplement manufacturers to service the chiropractic profession. He is on the faculty of Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida and on the postgraduate faculties of several other chiropractic colleges, providing nutrition seminars that focus on the needs of the chiropractic patient. Dr. Seaman believes that chiropractors should be thinking like chiropractors, while providing nutritional recommendations. Doctors and patients who follow his programs report improved feelings of well-being, weight loss, dramatic increases in energy, and significant pain reduction. Dr. Seaman can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].
1. Boyer J, Liu RH. Apply phytochemicals and their health benefits. Nutr J 2004, 3:5, published May 12, 2004. http://www.nutritionj.com/content/3/1/5
2. Seaman, D, DC. Statin drugs: a cause of muscle pain in many patients and nutritional alternatives we can offer, The American Chiropractor, 2004; 26(6)-50.