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An Apple a Day Really Does Keep the Doctor Away: Michelle Obama Is Right

Eating fresh fruit daily can improve your life. A recent article from investigators in Beijing, China, and the University of Oxford, England has shown how much this simple change in your diet can help you.
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Eating fresh fruit daily can improve your life. A recent article from investigators in Beijing, China, and the University of Oxford, England has shown how much this simple change in your diet can help you.

In the clinical trial performed between 2004 and 2014, the China Kadoorie Biobank Study recruited an amazing 512,000 Chinese people ages 35 to 74 who were interviewed about their diets, physical activity, health habits, and socio-demographic characteristics. Blood pressures and blood glucose levels were measured. Cardiovascular and stroke incidence was then followed.

The results were stunning. Among the 18 percent of people who ate fresh fruit (such as apples, citrus fruits, and pears) daily, the occurrence of death due to cardiovascular illness was 40 percent lower, the likelihood of a heart attack was 34 percent less, and the chance of stroke was 30 percent lower. Also, blood pressure was lower and glucose levels were less indicating a reduced risk of diabetes.

If your doctor were to offer you a drug that could lower your risk of death from heart disease by 40 percent, you would probably beg to get a prescription for it. Now, we see good evidence that fresh fruit, indeed just an apple a day, can extend your life (and keep the doctor away, at least for some time). Fresh fruits appear to be the prescription for lowering your risk, and you do not even need to see a doctor to get a "scrip."

Remember, heart disease and stroke are common causes of death! Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the USA, with 614,000 deaths each year, and stroke is number 5 with 133,000. So knowing a simple change, eating fresh fruit daily to prevent or delay these deaths, is a big deal.

Indeed, eating more fruit is what our first lady Michelle Obama has been endorsing and promoting during her time in the White House. She has promoted a good diet as well as exercise, and her efforts led to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) signed by the president on December 13, 2010. This put more fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, on the lunch plates of schools around the country. It was a good start in training kids to eat more fruit, and 80 percent of Americans supported it. Although the HHFKA was not reauthorized in 2015, the principles of HHKA are still improving school lunches and attitudes towards healthier diets in America.

Also, Michelle has promoted better diets in her Let's Move program. This is designed to reduce obesity by improving access to healthy affordable foods (including fruits), putting healthy food in schools, providing a healthy start for children, empowering parents, and increasing physical activity.

So regardless of your political affiliation, you want to live a longer and healthier life. Fresh fruits will help you to accomplish this, and they even taste good too!

Here are Dr. Cary's tips for your health:

• As I promote in by book Surviving American Medicine, discuss you diet and health habits with your primary care physician and get advice on how to improve your lifestyle.
• Eat fresh fruits daily, and eat nuts daily. I advise my patients to eat at least 5 helpings of fruits, vegetables or fruit juices daily, and reduce red meat to once weekly. Do not forget to use whole grains and nuts, and limit alcohol intake. Don't smoke. Follow the national guidelines for good diets.
• Eating fresh fruits daily lowers blood pressure and glucose levels. So be sure you know your blood pressure and glucose levels and understand from your doctor if these are in the healthy range.
• In these times when doctors do not give you much time during your office visit, make certain you have your doctor answer all your questions about diet and nutrition before you leave the office. See my website and book Surviving American Medicine to see how you can get the time and attention to keep you healthy and prevent disease.

An apple a day can keep your doctor away. Make sure you, your family and children are empowered by shopping for fresh fruits and keeping them available for snacks and meals.