Thursday, 2 February 2012

An Apple A Day

The apple, a fruit some might describe as sinful. Plucked from a tree, it tempted Adam and Eve; even Snow White found its rosy red flesh hard to resist. Others too strayed from the path, convinced of its virtuousness. The commonplace phrase, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, turned this fruit into a symbol of goodness. Coughs and the common cold warded off if you followed this sound advice. A clean bill of health. No need to summon the doctor. Folklore, old wives' tales; call it what you like. Consider this: what if they were right?

A 19th century approach to healthy eating. When this proverb was coined, the word “apple” referred to any round fruit. An early equivalent to the NHS “5-a-day”. The health benefits addressed without the research we have today. Evidence suggests coloured fruits and veg are a rich source of antioxidant compounds. Reducing the risk of colon, prostate and lung cancer. Diminishing heart disease. Killing bacteria. Controlling weight loss and cholesterol. Yet some experts now say this is not enough. We need to dose ourselves up with synthetic, chemically based preparations. Just-in-case medication.

Pills. Blister-packed, tamper-proof bottles, a sachet of powder. Available over-the-counter or placed strategically in wellbeing aisles. Guaranteed to make you feel better, even if nothing is wrong. The insurance plan drug companies love. There as a back up in case of a sniffle, sore throat, or sneeze. The person next to you has gone down with flu or has an upset stomach. Chewed, dissolved on the tongue. Swallowed or mixed with water. One little pill; a precautionary remedy. Numerous appointments made with the GP. Our expectations met; an illegible prescription handed over. No faith in our own defence against contracting illness or disease.

There are those who would say an apple a day is the same principal: it too is an insurance policy. True, but an apple, or any fruit and veg is wholesome and natural. Grown. Less chances of adverse effects, and your mind and body reap its other benefits. An energetic fix; an immune booster. Cells deployed, to fight foreign invaders. This won't happen if immunity is constantly suppressed. Good bacteria killed off, internal systems on stop, go, stop, go. The body's rhythm interrupted. Why can't we adopt food-based medicine on the national health? Pills derived from nature. No synthetic binders, fillers, and man-made ingredients. An integrated measure.

What do the government want? Us to supplement or not? The need for extra nutrients flatly denied. Popping vitamin pills is harmful. Public health at the expense and in the hands of pharmaceuticals. The proverb above forgotten. Amended to “An aspirin a day keeps the doctor away and earns the drug reps their bread.”