Apple pectin is a type of soluble fiber found in apples, among other fruits. It helps improve digestion, gently cleanses the bowels and can help you lose weight. Besides being an excellent source of fiber, it promotes higher levels of good bacteria in the gut, which improves digestion, nutrient absorption, immunity and more. Apple pectin can help treat several chronic digestive ailments, including irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis.
Pectin is a fiber occurring in the cell walls and tissues of all plants in varying amounts. The pulp and peels of apples contain a particularly high concentration of pectin, which is why apple-derived pectin is available as a dietary supplement to give you the health benefits of this special fiber. Pectin is a soluble fiber, which means it absorbs water to form a gel, which helps improve digestion and weight loss efforts. Soluble fiber has also been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes . Besides being a soluble fiber, pectin is also a prebiotic, which means it boosts friendly bacteria levels, which in turn provide a host of health benefits. Here are X health benefits of supplementing with apple pectin.
1. Provides a Great Source of Fiber
Women need 25 grams of fiber a day, and men need 30 grams, but without eating enough fruits, vegetables, beans, and legumes every day, you aren’t getting enough fiber. Fiber helps with weight loss by helping you feel full and satisfied for longer so that you can consume fewer calories in the day. It puts light pressure on the walls of the stomach and hitting nerve receptors in the digestive tract that signal to your brain that you’re full. It also absorbs water from your digestive tract to form a gel, which gives you a feeling of fullness while slowing digestion so that you don’t need your next meal for a while longer .
In a study, eating pectin for two days was shown to slow the emptying of the stomach and reduce appetite in obese participants . Finally, it helps remove cholesterol from food before the body absorbs it by binding to it and pulling it through the intestines and out the body. This not only helps with weight loss but also with heart disease prevention .
2. Relieves Constipation
Pectin isn’t a laxative, but it helps prevent and relieve constipation by absorbing water in the digestive tract, which bulks up the stool. However, taking too much pectin without water can cause constipation from too much water absorption. With the right amount of regular use, it will keep you stay regular. In one study on 80 participants with constipation, taking 24 grams of apple pectin a day effectively reduced constipation .
3. Acts as a Prebiotic
Besides delivering a great source of fiber, pectin also acts as a prebiotic, which is a substance known to increase populations of friendly bacteria in the gut. This has a cascading effect of providing health benefits throughout the entire body, from mental health to better immunity. Beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics, help the gut digest food and absorb nutrients. Antibiotics, chemicals, too much stress, and excessive alcohol consumption can put the population of good bacteria at risk. In a 6-week study, 24 grams of apple pectin a day was shown to increase friendly bacteria in the colon . In another study, the oligosaccharides in apple pectin were shown to inhibit the proliferation of harmful colon bacteria while boosting good bacteria populations .
4. Alleviates Diarrhea
By promoting beneficial bacteria growth and absorbing fluid in the intestines, apple pectin can help prevent and relieve diarrhea. In 2 studies on a total of 119 children with ongoing diarrhea, apple pectin was found to effectively alleviate symptoms [6, 7].
5. Helps with Ulcerative Colitis
Ulcerative colitis is an inflammatory bowel disease characterized by inflammation, pain, cramping, and diarrhea. Apple pectin has been shown to help ease the symptoms of this condition by improving gut microbe balance and overall digestive function in the intestines. In a study on 20 ulcerative colitis patients, 20 grams of apple pectin a day improved ulcerative colitis symptoms .
6. Improves Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Irritable bowel syndrome is a widespread condition that involves abdominal pain and diarrhea or constipation, and is often linked to stress, anxiety or depression, or associated with intestinal infection. In a study on 87 people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), apple pectin was shown to reduce IBS symptoms after six weeks of supplementations with 24 grams a day. It also markedly reduced numbers of harmful bacteria in the gut while boosting probiotic levels .
7. Reduces Heartburn
Apple pectin can also reduce heartburn or acid reflux. In a 4-week study on patients with chronic heartburn, a pectin-based agent taken daily effectively reduced heartburn after 15 days .
8. Boosts Iron Absorption
Iron is an essential mineral your red blood cells require to carry oxygen from your lungs and deliver it around your body. A lack of iron causes low hemoglobin levels, which can cause headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath and excessive fatigue . In a study on rats, pectin combined with iron supplements was shown to improve iron absorption compared to iron supplements without pectin. If you’re anemic or iron deficient, you might consider coupling pectin with iron supplementation or simply adding pectin to your diet to increase the assimilation of iron from food .
Too much apple pectin at once can cause constipation. When you first begin taking it, try starting with a smaller dose and work your way up to the amount required that keeps your bowels regular, or the dosage recommended on the product label. The soluble fiber in apple pectin combines with water as it navigates the bowels, so it’s important to drink more fluids when you take apple pectin as a supplement.