Gut health - benefits of pectin

Close up of lemon or lime slices

Cooked apples are my go-tos at the moment! Stewed with ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg! I add them to smoothies, muffins, my gluten-free bircher muesli.. a wonderful substitute for sugar and eggs! Bam! Double goodness!

One of the reasons I love using fresh apples is due to their naturally high content of pectin.
Pectin is a non-starch polysaccharide that's indigestible due to a lack of pectin enzymes in our gut. This dietary fibre is wonderful! It delays gastric emptying (so we stay full for longer after our meals), and is turned into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by our gut bacteria. SCFAs promote diversity in our gut bacteria, and provide energy for bacteria that stop by and say hi for a while :).

Gut bacteria are essential to gut health. I believe a lack of friendly gut bacteria are one of the major reasons we see so many health conditions on the rise today! Anything gut and immune related. Such as allergies, autism, ADHD, anxiety, depression, behavioural disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel disease, SIBO, other digestive issues and nutritional deficiencies.

Pectin's production of SCFAs stimulate the growth of gut-lining cells, thereby reducing intestinal permeability, and increasing colonic absorption. These are important things to reduce diarrhoea incidence, leaky gut, diseases that damage the lining of the gut like inflammatory bowel disease.

One study showed pectin stimulated the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacillus in vitro. In children, pectin was found to effectively reduce acute intestinal infections, significantly slow diarrhoea and improve small intestinal permeability. Pectin acts as a binder for toxins like heavy metals. It's a useful agent in detoxification :).

Rich sources of pectin are the peels of citrus fruits such as lime, lemon, orange and passionfruit. As well as apples (particularly apple pulp, the stuff left over from juicing). Pectin levels decrease with fruit ripeness. Go for fresh, sour apples like Granny Smith. Other fruits that are reasonably high include; blackberries (sour), cranberries, currants, loganberries, plums and lemons.

A wonderful resource for making your own apple pectin :). Turn all your organic apple scraps (peels and cores) into wonderful gut healing pectin! *

*It's ideal to use organic apples as opposed to conventional apples that are particularly high in pesticides :(. Otherwise ensure you scrub your apples with a brush under running water!