A Cook's Diary

Why prunes and apples are my tummy’s best friends

When Sam and Alex were very young, apple juice and prune juice were practically staples in our house. Sam often had problems digesting anything too oily while Alex… Well, see by the time that Alex was a year old, Sam could already eat chocolates and potato chips and we didn’t know she would give Alex the tips of Kisses and bits of potato chips. Apparently, Alex would ask for more, Sam would give her more and there were times when diarrhea followed. There were also times that Alex would eat too much and be unable to digest her food properly.

Ergo, per their pediatrician’s instructions, we gave them apple juice (or the boiling liquid of rice — is it spelled as am or ahm? — or latundan bananas, in the alternative) and prune juice, whichever the occasion called for. That’s one thing I liked about their pediatrician. While it would have been so easy to prescribe medication or suppositories, she prescribed natural remedies. And I really appreciated that because what mother would prefer to stuff their young children with medication when natural food can remedy the problem equally well if not better?

Of course, I belong to that generation of mothers. When I was a kid, the pediatrician had all sorts of medicines for every imaginable condition — from the common cold to lack of appetite. My brother, who was rather sickly as a child, would endure tablespoonful after tablespoonful of bottled vitamins and he gave the yayas such a hard time. The yaya would pour the liquid vitamins into a spoon, hold it in front of him and my brother would complain that the spoon was either too far that he couldn’t reach it or too near that he was getting cross-eyed. Sometimes, the content of the tablespoon would already be dripping down the floor because the yaya‘s hand would be shaking from fatigue. Without exaggerating, the top of the refrigerator was covered with bottles of my brother’s vitamins and an assortment of medicines.

It was a hatable mindset that my mother’s generation suffered from. And it’s a mindset that many of them carried through their old age. Too much medication that the medicines would sometimes contradict each other’s purpose. Which is probably why I took the extreme opposite attitude. We don’t have a medicine cabinet in our house. Not one. We do have a medicine kit with band aids and bandages and a few Advils and Biogesics. But the only bottled pills you’ll see here are Sodium Bicarbonate and Ascorbic Acid.

Which now brings me to prunes and apples.

I never forgot the things I learned from the girls’ pediatrician. When I feel constipated, I eat prunes. If it’s the opposite situation, I eat apples or drink apple juice (I’m not a fan of bananas). To be truthful, I prefer apple juice to apples and I can’t tolerate prune juice although I love eating prunes.

I Googled some and found out that apple as a cure for diarrhea was discovered by accident. From a 1934 edition of The American Journal of Nursing:

I also came across the BRAT and BRATTY diets for those suffering from diarrhea. No kidding.

As for constipation, the remedy, of course, is insoluble fiber From FYI Living:

To maximize insoluble fiber intake, eat your fruits and veggies with the skin (when possible) and have plenty of whole grains. Prunes, in particular, are a natural bowel irritant that can improve constipation. Vegetables with high fiber content include carrots, cauliflower and broccoli.

More about prunes and its additional health benefits from Foods Healing Power:

The insoluble fiber in prunes also provide food for “good” bacteria in the large intestine. When the good bacteria use this insoluble fiber, they produce butyric acid, which is a short-chain fatty acid that is the primary fuel for intestinal cells to maintain a healthy colon.

These bacteria also form other short-chain fatty acids, such as acetic and propionic acid, that are used as cellular fuel in the liver and muscles.

Prunes also contain soluble fiber, that helps lower cholesterol and with it the risk of heart disease. Prunes may also decrease the damage of cholesterol on the arteries through the action of phenolic compounds, such as neochlorogenic and chlorogenic acids which act as antioxidants to “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Isn’t that nice? Not only will the constipation be relieved, you get so many extra benefits too.

The stock photo is from Pixabay.

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