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organic food, healthy food, fruit, apple   2020. March 2. News

An organic apple a day keeps our gut flora okay

Not that many people know that besides being an excellent source of fibre and vitamins, apples also contain lots of beneficial microorganisms, mostly bacteria. Bacteria that we ingest when we eat raw foods can stay in our bodies for a certain amount of time, and the microbial composition of apples has a direct effect on us via our gut flora.

Every apple is a bit different on the inside

Just like human gut flora, the microbial community living on apples is individual and continuously changing. According to a publication from 20191, the cultivation technology used by the owner of the orchard also affects the microbial community of the apple in question.

When studying the Arlet apple variety, researchers concluded that with each apple you consume approximately 100 million bacteria, regardless of whether the fruit was grown through organic or conventional methods. This means that there is no significant difference between the number of bacteria. However, the devil is in the detail, and the difference lies in the diversity and the different composition of species. It does not matter if the number of bacteria is the same, if their quality is different. When analysing the apple microbiome on taxonomic level, the variation is quite apparent. The difference between bacterial orders and genera detectable from conventional and organic apples is 40%, which means almost half of taxa are different in some way: they are either not present at all in one fruit or the other, or if they are, their amount is different.

Generally we can say that the organic apples harbor a more diverse and more even microbiota, than conventionally managed ones. In addition, Enterobacteriales described to contain taxa responsible for food-born infections, were present in larger amounts in apples grown in the conventional way. One of the reasons for this is supposedly that the higher diversity of the microbiome is favourable for the growth of Lactobacillii, which in turn inhibit the growth of foodborne pathogenic microorganisms via competition.

Considering that to be healthy overall you need healthy gut flora, supplementing beneficial bacteria is essential for your body. Therefore, organic apples are not only a better choice than conventional ones because of the environmental sustainability and the absence of chemicals, but also because of their more diverse and balanced microbial composition.

So we came to the same conclusion again:

Eat organic product if possible, especially when it comes to raw fruits or vegetables.

Did you know?

Bacterial hot spot of both organic and conventional apples is the seeds , while the peel and the fruit pulp are the parts of the apple with the highest bacterial diversity.

The microbiome, the gut flora, and apples

It is true not only for humans but also for animals and plants that their healthy tissues include thriving microbial communities with individual structures and compositions. This is called the microbiome. The most well-known microbial community in humans is the gut flora, but microorganisms are present on our skin and even in our brains as well. (And this is all normal, in fact you would get sick if those microorganisms weren’t there.) Despite microbiomes related to a host often being embedded deeply in a specific part of the host’s body, they are actually an open ecosystem interlinked with other microbiomes as well. The connection between plant microbiomes and the gut flora is special because fruit and vegetables that are consumed raw (such as apples) are currently the most important sources of living microbes comprising the healthy gut flora.
The more we know about the gut flora, the clearer it becomes that their role in maintaining human health is more important than we ever thought.2

Maintaining the microbial diversity is just as important as the agrobiodiversity presented in our previous article. What’s more: it is an organic part of that.

1. An Apple a Day: Which Bacteria Do We Eat With Organic and Conventional Apples? Wassermann et al.
2. Vulnerability of the industrialized microbiota. Sonnenburg and Sonnenburg 2019.


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