Clayton's Health Facts: Apple Pectin.

Clayton South, SPN (ISSA), is a recognized expert in the bodybuilding / fitness industry with over 150 bodybuilding, fitness and nutrition publications to his credit.

1. What is it and where does it come from?

Apple pectin and pectin in general is classified as a soluble fiber. It has a gel-forming effect when mixed with water. Since it is a dietary fiber, Apple Pectin is helpful in maintaining good digestive health. Pectin is defined as any of a group of white, amorphous, complex carbohydrates that occurs in ripe fruits and certain vegetables. Peaches, apples, currants, and plums are all fruits rich in Pectin.

The amount of pectin in the fruit depends partly on how ripe the fruit is. If the fruit is unripe, it has what is called Protopectin, which is converted into Pectin as the fruit ripens. When put in water, Pectin forms a colloidal solution, and gels on cooling. If the fuit is overripe, the Pectin becomes pectic acid, which does not form jelly with sugar solutions. If the fruit is just right and the acidity is optimum and the amount of Pectin is sufficient, the fruit can be cooked with the right amount of sugar and be made into jams and jellies.

The food industry uses pectin as a gelling agent. It is mainly used in fruit based foods such as jams and jellies. It does have some pharmaceutical applications too. Chemically, Pectin is a linear polysaccharide. It contains about 300 to 1,000 monosaccharide units. The principle monosaccharide unit of Pectin is D-Galacturonic acid.

Pectin also has some neutral sugars present in it. D-galacturonic acid residues are linked together by Alpha-1, 4 glycosidic linkages. These residues can be esterified with methyl groups. If more than 50% of the galaturonic acid residues are esterified, the Pectin is called high methoxyl or HM Pectin. If it is less than 50%, the Pectin is called low methoxy or LM Pectin.

2. What does it do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?

Since Apple Pectin is an indigestible, soluble fiber, it is a general intestinal regulator. It is used in many medicinal preparations, especially as an anti-diahrrea agent. Does "An apple a day keep the doctor away"? Nutritional scientist are trying to find evidence that verify how apples are good for our health. Researchers have found that apples are the richest of fruits in Pectin.

Many studies have been done on Apple Pectin and the results are promising. Due to the fact that Apple Pectin is a soluble fiber, it is effective in lowering cholesterol levels. One study shows that it acts as an antioxidant against the damaging portion of cholesterol in the blood stream. Some researchers think that people should drink apple juice if there meal consisted of fatty foods.

Another research that was done in Japan found that Apple Pectin can decrease the chances of colon cancer. Apple Pectin cleanses the intestinal tract with its soluble and insoluble fibers, helping to maintain an intestinal balance. Apple Pectin tends to increase acidity in the large intestines, and is advocated for those suffering from ulcer or colitis. It is also good for regulating blood pressure.

Pectin has also been found to cause a regression in, and prevent, gallstones. Some effidence suggests that Apple Pectin can actually lessen the severity of diabetes. It has also been suggested that fiber-depleted diets actually help cause diabetes mellitus. Other studies show that the regular consumption of Apple Pectin can actually lead to a permanent reduction in insulin requirements.

Apple Pectin may also be used to remove unwanted metals and toxins, and reduce the side effects of radiation therapy. It is suggested that it is bactericidal to infectious intestinal bacteria such as E. coli.

According to an agricultural institute in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture, an apple a day can protect you from allergies. Researchers at the National Institute of Fruit Tree Science under the National Argricultural Research Orginization conducted a study with 14 men and women. They asked them to consume 8.4 grams of refined apple pectin per day, which is the equivalent of six apples. According to their research the levels of histamine in the blood of the test subjects had fallen considerably in 11 of the 14, after just three weeks of use. Five of them saw their histamine levels cut in half. When the subjects stopped taking Apple Pectin their histamine levels returned to their previous levels.

3. Who needs it and what are some symptoms of deficiency?

Just about anyone could benefit from supplementing Apple Pectin. However, because it is not an essential nutrient, true deficiencies do not occur. One might want consult their professional health care provider before supplementing Apple Pectin into their diet.

4. How much should be taken? Are there any side effects?

There is still more studies that need to be done and no typical dose for Apple Pectin supplements have been set yet. Studies for cholesterol-lowering effects in hypercholesterolemic individuals used doses of 10 to 15 grams daily. Plenty of fluid should be consumed when supplementing with Apple Pectin. If you are going to supplement Apple Pectin into your diet, follow the directions on the container.

Apple Pectin may cause a decrease in the absorption of minerals such as zinc, copper, iron, calcium and magnesium if used concomitantly. It may also cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as flatulence, cramps, gas and diarrhea. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should avoid supplementing Apple Pectin unless otherwise directed by their professional health care provider.

5. Where can I get it?

There are different brand names that manufacture supplemental Apple Pectin.