An apple a day…………………………

Everyone wants a sense of belonging. I am no different. I have always been very proud to call myself a Welshman, and being able to speak my mothers tongue. Being part of the British Army for 18 years cemented the foundations in belonging to something. When I left the forces in 2012, moving to Southwell, I am now proud to say that I have lived in one of the most glorious places in the country. Steeped in history, from the famous Southwell Minster, The workhouse and the Bramley Apple, Southwell is just a fascinating place with a little something for everyone. A point to note, I call it “Southwell” as in “South”, but lets not get into that argument………!

Saturday, 20th October 2018, saw Southwell host the Bramley Apple festival within the walls of the grand Minster. If you had the chance to pop along, it was truly spectacular. From food to craft, all to celebrate the Bramley Apple. This year was the festivals 25th anniversary too!

Personally, I love an apple. A great Welsh proverb is ‘An apple a day, keeps the doctor away’, but what health benefits do apples provide? Do they actually keep the doctors away?

The Medical News Today, I read that apples are an excellent source of antioxidants which help to get rid of free radicals. Free radicals are damaging substances within the body and they cause undesirable effects such as the ageing process and some diseases.  In the same article, they state that studies have found that an antioxidant (polyphenols) might extend lifespan, that’s gotta a be a good thing, right?

Researchers at Florida State University, explained that when testing older women who started eating apples daily, they reduced levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) by as mush as 23%.

Low-Density Lipoproteins (LDL) are formed by the interaction of cholesterol and protein. LDL’s contain a considerable amount of cholesterol to protein with a sticky composition, making them easier to deposit on the artery walls, increasing the risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension (High blood pressure) and heart disease.

Another form of cholesterol is the High-Density Lipoproteins, (HDL) which are formed much the same as LDL. However, they contain more protein, giving them greater density. They are often considered the ‘good’ cholesterol and help to reverse atherosclerosis by removing deposited cholesterol plaque from the arteries.

Other benefits of eating apples I found out whilst devouring into my crunchy ‘Pink Lady’, was that apples improve neurological health. Researchers found that Quercitin, an antioxidant found in apples, was a compound that assisted in the reduction of cellular death that is caused by oxidation and inflammation of neurons. Memory can also improve by the juice, as it increases the production of acetylcholine, essential neurotransmiter, which can assist people with Alzheimer-like symptoms.

A study which spanned over 28 years with men, concluded that the risk of stroke was lowered in those who ate apples. The research concluded that the consumption of apples decreased the risk of thrombotic stroke which links very well to the reduction in LDL’s.

Apples do contain a number of different nutrients and minerals. Some affect the good gut bacteria of obese individuals, therefore helping to reduce weight. The fruit contains almost no fat, sodium or cholesterol, but do contain the following key nutrients:

Vitamin C – Helps in the growth and repair of bodily cells, collagen formation in connective tissues, haemoglobin and red blood cell production and it is a potent antioxidant.

B Complex (Thiamin, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine) – Helps in the normal function of nerves, brain and muscle cells. Promotion of healthy skin, hair and eyes. Metabolism of carbohydrates and the synthesis of amino acids.

Fibre – Fibre plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy digestive system and aids the exertion of waste and toxins from the body which helps in keeping a healthy gut and reduced risk of diseases.

Minerals – (Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorus)These minerals play different roles within the body. Calcium and phosphorous helps maintain bone density and healthy teeth. In addition, calcium is essential for blood clotting, cramp prevention and maintaining a healthy heart rhythm. Potassium is an electrolyte and is crucial for maintaining heart function and also plays a key role in the contraction of skeletal and smooth muscle tissue.

Phytonutrients – Occurring naturally in plant foods, polyphenolic compounds are rich within apples. These nutrients help the body to protect against the detrimental effects of free radicals. These are organic molecules that cause ageing, tissue damage and many forms of disease.

With benefits comes the risks too! Yes even with apples…………..So what are the risks?

Research has determined that there are no serious side effects from eating apples. Apple seeds do contain cyanide, a poison, no less! Consuming too many apple seeds could potentially be fatal, how many? The Healthline article suggests you would need to eat 200 apple seeds to cause death. My advice, don’t eat them. Keep to the delicious bit……….

A more prevalent risk is the damage to teeth from eating apples. According to Professor David Bartlett at the Kings Dental Institute, apples can be up to four times more damaging than carbonated drinks……..Wowzers! However, it’s not what you eat, it’s how you eat it is important. Eating an apple a day is good, but taking all day to eat the apple can damage teeth. So, just be careful of indigestion.

Average Nutritional Value of a typical 100g Apple


I personally don’t have an apple every day and I love apples. I have one very frequently and I also add them into my meals as a base or part of salads etc. They are an easy go-to snack at times and they contain so much water by its weight which means that they can fill you up without the calories. Win, win!

Have a little think next time your eating that delicious Granny Smith, apple-eye (sorry! :)) the knowledge!

Ken x


Shall We celebrate with a beer?

Setting myself challenges and goals gives me a great buzz. I challenge myself to keep fit and healthy. No matter what I do, I always give it my best. I train hard for any event that I do. Earlier this year, I completed the Spartan ‘Super’ Obstacle Course Race (OCR) which is a gruelling 16km rugged terrain run with 29 obstacles to overcome. If you fail any obstacle, then you complete 30 burpees before you move on! I was chuffed to bits when I came in 1st in my age group and 6th/1302 runners. To celebrate jumping the last obstacle which was the fire jump, crossing the line, I was given my ‘Super’ medal, some healthy snacks and treats and a nice cold beer. This got me thinking………

The Spartan ‘Super’ OCR was the 18th race which I have taken part in and after each one, I have been provided with a beer to celebrate crossing the finish line. I love a beer, don’t get me wrong, but is this the best thing to drink after putting your body through these tough endurance races?

My most recent OCR was the Spartan ‘Beast’, 26km of gruelling terrain, 30 obstacles and to make matters even worse, the wind was sideways and the rain fell down heavily throughout. It was a true mind over matter scenario to get a good time. Again, true to form, awaiting me at the end was a cold beer! The last thing I wanted to be honest, whilst shivering uncontrollably, teeth chattering away and covered in good old mud.

So why a beer?

Proponents argue that beer provides the body with carbs and electrolytes, which both are needed after a tough endurance race or high intensity workout. Whilst others say that it’s a way to celebrate with friends so that keeping fit and healthy is a regular occurrence. So having a beer has nutritional benefits and being social, all in one? Erm….Not exactly!

Hanah Abdulaziz Feeney said “ Having a beer after a workout is not hugely detrimental as long as it’s with water and food, but it is absolutely not positive or beneficial”. Well, at least I did get some healthy snacks after crossing the finishing line to complement my beer.

It is true that beer has some electrolytes, which regulate the fluid balance and assists in muscle contraction, carbs, the body’s preferred energy source, and also polyphenols, anti-inflammatory & antioxidant compounds. The electrolyte contained within most beer is potassium and you don’t deplete much of this during your workouts. What is depleted in larger quantities is sodium chloride through sweat. And guess what? Beer cannot provide it!

I was once told that a beer is like having 2 slices of bread. So a great carb source! However, the drink puts strain on your liver and other organs to metabolise the alcohol by the use of the body’s nutrients. Oh, not such a great carb source! The nutrients wasted in metabolising the alcohol could be put to better use by helping your body to repair muscles and support glycogen production from the food we eat.

With further research, gone are the days where you hear someone saying, “I’ll have a pint of Stella to quench the thirst!” Why? Because alcohol is dehydrating which is the opposite effect you want after a long jaunt across the beautiful countryside. Recovery will take longer to occur and your fitness level will result in slower adaptations. A study I read on Plos One detailed that consuming beer reduced Muscle Protein Synthesis, repairing and building muscle after exercise, by 24-37%. This report did take place with a high amount of alcohol.

So the evidence is there. If you want to reap the benefits of your training, workouts or recovery then having a beer might not be the best idea.

However, the practice of handing out a beer after a race like the OCR’s that I compete in, or having one or two post workout beers with your friends has very little harm in my mind. I am not a super human athlete. I am not a professional sportsman. I am merely an ordinary guy who loves to train hard, play sport, and compete in OCR’s including having a few beers with family and friends. So having a beer after my run? Yes please! I have worked damn hard for it!


Ken x