THE BLOG
04/22/2013 01:17 pm ET Updated Jun 22, 2013

Can an Apple a Day Really Keep Fatigue Away?

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We've all heard the old adage that an apple a day can keep the doctor away; but can an apple a day really give you energy and build endurance? New research suggests that eating apples may improve endurance for the average adult. It's not just the apple, but the flavonoid called quercetin contained within the apple, that has caught the researcher's eye. Interestingly, one of my Spin students saw a post from my Doctor Lynn Facebook page where I mentioned the research and quercetin. Her husband is a research doctor at UCLA and is presently researching quercetin and its effect on energy and endurance. She asked me if I thought one apple a day would do the trick. My answer was no, it would take a lot of apples to get a full allotment of quercetin, but every little bit helps when it comes to your health. However, it is important to note that as a Naturopathic Doctor I subscribe to eating whole foods for their synergetic effect. Why? Because it is the synergistic effect of whole foods that gives us the health benefits and not one isolated element.

An example would be the discovery of the synergistic effect of flavonoids and vitamin C by Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the Noble prize winner who discovered flavonoids. When trying to treat a patient with blood problems, he gave the patient a solution that was not pure vitamin C. The solution worked very effectively. Later, when he administered the solution of 100 percent pure vitamin C, he did not get the same results. What he found was that there is a synergistic relationship between vitamins and flavonoids. They support the effort of each other when it comes to antioxidant activity.

Quercetin is a flavonoid. Most flavonoids function within the human body as antioxidants. As antioxidants they fight free radicals from damaging parts of cells. This powerful natural antioxidant (quercetin) boosts the power of the mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) in muscles and the brain. This boost of power gives us a boost of energy.

Research at the University of South Carolina's Arnold School of Public Health points to a significant boost in endurance capacity from the compounds and more specifically querentin found in fruits and vegetables. Red apples, as well as deep dark red and purple fruits such as red grapes, blueberries, red cherries and blackberries are great sources of quercetin. Even a glass of red wine will provide the body with a boost of endurance enhancing quercetin.(1)

Mentioning a glass of red wine makes most people smile. We've all heard about resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red wine. It has been suggested that the reason the French have such a low rate of cardiovascular disease is because they consume large amounts of red wine. Now we can add quercetin to resveratrol, making a glass of wine even more significant when it comes to our health.

But wait! There is a conundrum. We would need to consume large amounts of wine and bushels of apples to get all the resveratrol and querentin that we need. So scientists have tried to isolate the flavonoids into supplements that will provide us with a powerful dose. However, when scientists studied the effects of resveratrol, they ran into a bioavailability problem. For a nutrient to be effective it must be bioavailable, meaning it must be absorbed by the digestive tract and released into the bloodstream. Then, it must survive long enough to get to the tissue and organs. Resveratrol poses a problem. Although it is well absorbed by the gut, its bioavailability is nearly zero. It seems it is metabolized at such a fast rate that it does not make it into the blood stream.

Perhaps resveratrol depends upon other compounds found in the natural state of foods for its bioavailability. Naturopaths believe there is a synergistic effect between the total compounds in whole foods and it is this synergistic effect that works to deliver the nutrients to the body. Grapes, and thus wine, contain polyphenolics, which coexist in nature with both resveratrol and quercetin. So perhaps rather than extracting, the best source for resveratrol and querentin is to let them work synergistically by letting Mother Nature do her work. In their natural state, red wine, apples and other fruits and vegetable are the best source when it comes to bioavailible antioxidants such as resveratrol and quercetin.

Eating a whole food well-rounded natural diet is best when it comes to providing the body-mind with the nutrients it needs to work efficiently and effectively. As well as red wine and apples, dark red berries, grapes, onions, broccoli and green leafy vegetables are good sources of both resveratrol and quercetin.

Will an apple a day and a glass of red wine suffice when it comes to getting your resveratrol and quercetin? No, but every little bit helps, and a "whole" lot of little bits adds up to big healthy rewards! So, add an apple a day and a glass of red wine, and Cheers to your Health!

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