Could an apple a day keep the dermatologist away?

Whilst the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ is based on an old proverb, recent studies suggest there may be some truth in it. Not only do apples contain important antioxidants, flavonoids, and dietary fibre, but they also harbour a diverse set of microbes – and that apple bacteria could be good for you!

The importance of our microbiome has only been recognised fairly recently and is thought to impact a wide range of conditions from gastrointestinal conditions, autoimmune diseases to mental health and skin conditions. So the concept that eating apples could impact our microbiome may not be so wild after all.  

But what type of apple? What part of the apple? And how?

A new study[1], published in Frontiers in Microbiology, even shows that organic apples harbour a more diverse and balanced bacterial community than conventional apples – making them a healthier option for you and for the environment. Whilst both types of apple had a similar number of bacteria, approximately 100 million per medium sized apple, organically grown ones had a larger variety of bacterial species. With previous studies suggesting that fresh produce with more diverse microbiomes limits human pathogen abundance, opting for organic could have more benefits than originally thought. 

Research suggests that to gain the full benefits, you should eat the whole apple – stem, peel, flesh, seeds and all. In fact, if you discard the core, you lose approximately 90 million bacteria! 

So how might this impact our health? Our gut microbiome has been shown to affect almost every aspect of our overall health, including our skin. And what we eat seems to play an important role in the composition of our microbiome. So, could the humble apple play a role in keeping us, and our skin, healthy? Only time (and more research) will tell. 

There are lots of other foods beyond apples that your gut microbiome will love – and we’re not just talking about probiotic yogurt. Even festive treats like eggnog can be given renewed health benefits with new recipes – and added bacteria. Keep following out blog for more insights on the latest research around the microbiome.

[1] Science Daily – An Apple carries about 100 million bacteria – good luck washing them off

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