An Apple a Day


by Andy Pierron BSPharm R.Ph., Compass Community Health Care Center Director of Pharmacy Services

Historically speaking an apple a day keeps the doctor away. This saying originates in the 1800’-s when most patients were seen by doctors to treat episodic illness more than chronic disease. The term and adoption of preventative care was for the most part unheard of, uncommon, and not considered.

A study performed this past year by Dartmouth Medical School found this saying is not as accurate as it may have been in the past. The study followed 8,000 people for several years. Dartmouth found an apple a day no longer seemed to keep the doctor away however, it may keep the pharmacist away!

To clarify, individuals participating in the study that ate an apple a day did not seem to avoid their primary care provider but did take fewer prescription medications. Experts who reviewed the study felt the correlation between apple eaters other good health habits, such as lack of tobacco use and having completed higher education was probably significant to the study’s findings.

Another tendency I find in my practice is those compelled to eat healthier are more reluctant to take prescription medicine. These patients usually are doing a number of things very well; they not only choose healthier foods, they typically eat less calories, and are more likely to exercise. However, I also find that if and when these patients are diagnosed with an illness, they can be more reluctant to follow suitable medication regimens. Sometimes what “got them here” won’t “get them there”! In other words, sometimes what has worked in the past, unfortunately, won’t work in the future.

So, what can we take from the study? Well, it seems that if we avoid tobacco and eat healthier, we still need to see our primary care provider (to receive immunizations for instance, and early diagnosis of disease). If we stay connected to our primary care provider and have regular wellness checkups, our primary care provider is less likely to find a reason to prescribe or prescribe for a long period of time.