Get Healthy from the Inside Out with Fruit
By Diana Kerwin, M.D., North Dallas LIVING WELL Magazine
Turns out an apple a day (or banana, kiwi or peach) really can keep the doctor away. Fruits are nutrient–rich foods, high in fiber and water. By eating a variety of colorful fruits as part of your balanced diet, you can combat the aging process and help your body rejuvenate.
“My practice is dedicated to promoting the health of individuals through education on how to improve brain health by making the right food choices––a nutrient-dense diet is a big part of the prescription for my patients,” says Diana Kerwin, M.D., medical director of Texas Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice in Dallas, and board member for the Alzheimer’s Association. “As a specialist in cognitive disorders and brain health, I’m always interested in studies that show how the brain changes as we age and what steps we can take to keep it healthy. Fruits definitely play a role.”
Dr. Kerwin points out that the benefits of fruits are plentiful and go far beyond brain health to also include:
- Immune support as an antioxidant
- Heart health
- Digestive help as a detoxifier
- Mobility and strength
- Skin, hair and nail health
“We’re drawn to fruit’s natural sweetness because sugar is our brain’s preferred fuel source––not white table sugar, but glucose which your body processes from the sugars and carbohydrates we eat. Sugar can enhance alertness and offer a short-term boost, but we have to go easy because it can also cause us to gain weight,” adds Dr. Kerwin.
So, how much is enough? According to researchers, two or three palm-sized portions of fruit are all we need.
Which ones? Individual tastes vary, and so should your choices. If your diet lacks essential nutrients, it can hinder your concentration. Eat different fruits to absorb as many of the vital nutrients as you can. Here are a few super fruits which top the charts for nutrients:
Avocados often get a bad rap because of their high fat content, but it is healthy monosaturated fat, which includes vitamins A, B, C and E. Avocados support the production of collagen which is vital for skin, bone and muscle revitalization. Instead of a banana, add an avocado to a fruit smoothie. When mixed with other fruits, its fat content slows the release of sugars.
Bananas provide quick, quality fuel and are a great source of potassium and vitamin C. They help kidney function and eliminate fluid retention.
Blueberries, blackberries and purple grapes may protect the brain from damage caused by free radicals and may reduce the effects of age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. Eating them can improve both learning and muscle function. They support heart health and may help prevent breast cancer.
Peaches contain the minerals magnesium and phosphorus, used by the nervous system for optimum brain and muscle function. The high boron content promotes new bone growth and reduces the risk of prostate cancer in men. Their gentle laxative effect helps maintain bowel regularity, ensuring the removal of aging toxins.
Raspberries have one of the highest antioxidant, anti-aging profiles of any fruit. They support circulation, aid memory and heart function, and contribute to healthy hair, skin and veins. Studies suggest raspberries have positive effects on mood and concentration. Always choose the darkest berries.
Apples may slow the uptake of glucose and help you maintain healthy blood sugar levels. They’re also a super source of potassium, antioxidants and vitamin C.
Kiwi contains more vitamin C than oranges. Eating the edible seeds is extremely beneficial as they contain all the nutrients and enzymes needed to grow a plant. Kiwis may relieve symptoms of respiratory conditions, such as asthma and coughs. Eating them whole with the skin on means you get the vitamin C, plus insoluble fiber and antioxidant content.
Fresh is best. Choose organic whenever possible. If you’re watching your budget, choose organic for fruits without skins such as berries, grapes and apples. Good nutrition is the key to a healthy body so choose wisely by consuming foods that come straight from nature. They will give your body optimal health from the inside out.
Diana Kerwin, M.D., is the chief of geriatrics at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and medical director of Texas Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice. She may be reached at 214-345-4449 or www.TexasAlzheimersandMemoryDisorders.com. Physicians employed by Texas Health Physicians Group practice independently and are not employees of the hospital or Texas Health Resources.