An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

an apple a day

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Do you believe it?  I do.   Apples are an incredibly easy, inexpensive, and delicious way to add fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your diet.

Apples have been around forever, since the days of Adam and Eve. What have we learned about the correlation between apples and good health?

The Health Benefits of Apples

Apples are fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, low in sodium, and full of fiber (with the peel on), pectin, vitamins, flavonoids, minerals and antioxidants. One apple contains approximately five grams of fiber and just eighty calories.

Which Minerals are Abundant in Apples?

Apples are full of magnesium and potassium which help control your blood pressure.   Quercetin is a flavonoid found in apples that protects your artery walls as well as your lungs.  Boron, a trace mineral that is absorbed from the soil, is also found in apples. It has been shown to be beneficial for your joints. 

Antioxidants Prevent and Stop Cancer

Research has proven that antioxidants are helpful to prevent disease and even to stop the growth of cancer cells once they are present in your system.

Apples Alleviate Constipation

Doctors have suspected for years that constipation is at the root of many illnesses. Constipation is caused by insufficient fiber in the diet. Conditions such as appendicitis, varicose veins, diverticulitis, hernias and hemorrhoids are all thought to be caused by strained bowel movements.

Most people know that fiber can alleviate these strained bowel movements. An apple a day can go a long way to keeping your body regular and free from constipation. My children can attest to the fact that anytime they complained of a stomach ache, I would always ask them when the last time they had a good poop. I would then prepare them a large bowl of sliced apples (with the peel still on) sprinkled with cinnamon.

See a previous post all about what your poop will tell you.

Pectin in Apples Stops Diarrhea

Pectin is a carbohydrate found in apples that helps our intestines when diarrhea is a problem.  This is because pectin causes food to congeal, just as it does when you use it to make jam or jelly. 

Most mothers are familiar with the BRAT diet recommended when their children have diarrhea. It consists of bananas, rice, unsweetened applesauce and toast. Most of these ingredients are bland and easy on the stomach.  The applesauce (apples without the fiber of the peel) is primarily included in this diet because of the pectin.

Now that you know just how good apples are for you, be sure to eat an apple a day to stay healthy or get healthier.

Starting today!

photo credit

Modified Keto Diet

modified keto diet: cauliflower pearls

Many people (especially us older folks) have a hard time understanding how the popular keto diet can be healthy. Most of us have been warned about cardiovascular disease, so a high-fat diet seems contrary to what we have been taught for years.

Original Keto Diet

The original Keto diet cuts back on carbohydrates and increases fats and proteins. There is not much specification on the source of carbs, fat, or protein. That’s the part requiring modification, in my opinion.

Food items like pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, crackers, and snacks contain high amounts of net carbs, so you should learn to avoid them. A great alternative to pasta and rice is cauliflower. You can purchase it (conveniently) already cut up in “pearls” (like the bags I buy, pictured below) or you can cut up a fresh head yourself.

modified keto, cauliflower pearls
cauliflower pearls have low net carbs, great for a modified keto diet!

As indicated on their label, these pearls of cauliflower contain a mere 2 grams of net carbs (4 total carbs minus 2 fiber) per 3/4 cup. This is a huge difference between pasta and rice. For example, pasta contains 62 grams of net carbs per 3/4 cup, brown rice contains 22 grams per 1/3 cup and white rice contains 32 grams per 1/3 cup. When you are limiting your net carbs to 25 grams per day, those numbers are quite significant. These cauliflower pearls can even be incorporated (with cheese) into a pizza dough!

Another great substitute for the high-carb perils of pasta and rice is zucchini spirals. Purchase these already cut up, or buy them whole and cut them up yourself. I’m all about convenience. If an ingredient is easy to prepare, I will be much more likely to use it in a meal. Use spaghetti squash as a substitute for starchy pasta.

The crunchier the vegetables (generally) the less net carbs (carbs minus fiber) they contain. When counting macros on the keto diet, macros are important.

What is my Modified Keto Diet?

The good news is, there are many versions of a modified keto diet. I have created one for myself by cutting way back on refined carbohydrates like sugar, potatoes, rice, bread, and pasta. Diagnosed with an allergy to wheat years ago, I switched to gluten-free bread and pasta, but even they contain not so good for you net carbs.

Not Just any Fats

For calories formerly taken up by bad carbs in my daily diet, I increased my intake of fats, although I stick to good fats. Yes, believe it or not, there is such a thing as good fats. I don’t like the way so many animal fats (processed and fatty meats, butter, cream, lots of cheese) recommended on the original keto diet make me feel. Constipation and stomach cramps are no fun!

Therefore, to get my fat macros (that’s the keto term), I consume more plant-based omega 3s. Fats like avocado, olive oil, almonds, almond milk, flax seeds, and coconut oil are my favourites. It is easy to replace the fats suggested in keto menus with healthier versions. For example, I substitute almond milk for full-fat cream and olive oil for butter.

Low Net Carb Choices

Also, make sure to have lots of crunchy salad ingredients on hand to throw together a quick lunch option. Make leafy greens, broccoli slaw, seeds, avocado, tomatoes, and cucumbers (all contain low net carbs) as well as a variety of low carb salad dressings mainstays in your fridge. These choices of good carbs have always been staples in my diet, often incorporated into a morning smoothie.

Lean Protein Choices

My protein intake remains about the same. Protein consumption is important to retain muscle mass, especially for post-menopausal women like myself. I have always leaned (pun intended) towards lean meats and fish for sources of protein, so that aspect needed no modification.

For four weeks now I have been following this modified keto version. I have lost a few pounds, but weight loss was not my primary goal. More importantly, I have noticed increased muscle tone in my abdominal area. These are the muscles I have not seen in many years, not since before my kids were born. That is impressive (I think) since those four weeks included one week of vacation (lots of margaritas) as well as the holiday season during which tempting goodies were hard to resist.

Poop: Pay Attention to What Yours is Telling You


I realize the title sounds gross, but you can tell a lot from your bowel movements! When my sons were small and came to me complaining of a tummy ache, the first thing I would ask them was “have you had a good poop today?” If they said no, I would cut up some apples, sprinkle them with cinnamon and serve them up this healthy, nutritious, full-of-fiber snack with a large glass of water. This trick worked every time (except when one son actually had appendicitis, but that’s another story). More often than not, within an hour or two they would have a good poop and would then feel much better…

Now that my sons are grown up and rarely tell me about their stomach (or other) ailments, I use the information for myself.  If you look at the Bristol Stool chart below that categorizes poop with pictures, you will see shapes and consistency from one extreme (constipation) to the opposite (diarrhea). Stage three or four is ideal; your bowel movements should not cause pain, the poop should come out easily, without straining, and in the shape and firmness of a sausage (their words, not mine) or a snake.


Regularity is the key, one of these bowel movements a day or every second day is normal.

If you do not fit into the “normal” category indicated in the chart, try increasing your daily intake of water by the glassful or by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables. Taking a pill or other forms of medication (laxatives) to soften your stools or increase their frequency is only a band-aid fix that can land you in more trouble by causing serious side effects and dependency on the medication. The same thing applies to diarrhea; medication should be a last resort, especially if you suspect the diarrhea is caused by something you have eaten or taken.

Constipation can and does happen to anyone and everyone, young and old, but some people more readily than others. Too much sugar, too little water, too much fat, too much protein, and too little fiber can all cause problems or irregularity with your bowel movements. Medications, allergies, and food sensitivities can also wreak havoc on your body, causing constipation or diarrhea. Constipation and diarrhea are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong and a warning that you should change your habits. Of course, if either condition lasts longer than a day or two, you should see your doctor as it could be a sign of more serious problems.

If your children automatically look for a snack as soon as they come in the door, consider having cut-up fresh fruit or vegetables readily available, with or without a dip. Fresh fruit and vegetables are loaded with fiber and contain a large amount of water, both great for keeping their bowel movements in the healthy zone. Another trick I used when my children were young was to add water to their juice cups. (half and half) They would probably tell you now that it tasted awful, but it worked.  Years later, I still encourage them to drink more water and eat more fiber to maintain their health.

Although I usually eat fairly well, I like everyone else, do like to indulge in things that are not so good for me.  It does not take long for my body to react to things like junk food, excess alcohol, and lack of exercise.  Adding fiber and water back into my diet works wonders in getting me back to the right category of the chart.