is apple cider vinegar all hype or a health

This article was contributed by Debbie M., MS, RD

Apple cider vinegar is advertised as a medicinal treatment for a variety of conditions. Though, many people experience mild health benefits, most claims are overstated or unfounded. Simply put, there is little human research on the ingestion of this natural liquid despite its presence for over 1000 years—It was primarily used topically as an antimicrobial.

Myths vs. Evidence…

Currently, drinking apple cider vinegar is purported to reduce cancer risk and many tout improvement in arthritis, digestion, blood lipids, weight and glucose control. Only the latter has had significant scientific support. Those with elevated blood sugar* take note!

The insulin-sensitizing effects of vinegar have been known for years and are evidenced in recent human studies. One effect it has is the delay in gastric emptying which creates a slower rise in blood sugar from a meal. Although the exact mechanism of vinegar’s anti-glycemic action is not known, several possibilities have been proposed [including suppression of enzyme activity, chromium regulating insulin action, enhanced glucose uptake in the periphery and conversion to glycogen, and raised glucose-6-phosphate concentrations in skeletal muscle]. The pH changes it induces may also contribute to some of its actions.

What does this mean for you? Well, improvements in blood sugar stability require less insulin, an anabolic hormone that stimulates glycogen and fat storage. Without as much insulin circulating you can possibly burn more stored fat. Sounds good to me!

Think twice before drinking apple cider vinegar…

Acidity is the main reason why you shouldn’t drink it straight. Apple cider vinegar can damage your esophagus, as it is 5% acetic acid — which is responsible for its sour taste and pungent smell. Keep in mind that vinegar kills E coli and is regularly used as a surface sanitizer! There have been cases of dental erosion of tooth enamel from regularly consuming small amounts of apple cider vinegar.

To minimize these worries, it’s best to dilute a couple of tablespoons in big glass of water to drink with a meal. It can also easily be used in dressings for salad/coleslaw and in condiments such as aioli.

Note: it’s likely that the raw, unfiltered and organic apple cider vinegar may host more natural elements than the clear pasteurized liquid version at the grocery store. The web-like “mother” (similar to the “mushroom” of kombucha tea) contains many living nutrients, enzymes and healthy bacteria that pasteurizing destroys along with the brown cloudiness. The pasteurized type will have fewer microbes, which may be more suitable for pregnant or immune compromised individuals.

As an inexpensive, safe (when diluted) supplement that may improve insulin sensitivity, apple cider vinegar is a tasteful addition to your diet.

*Consult with your physician before using apple cider vinegar as a supplement.

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Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect. Johnston CS, Gaas CA. Medscape General Medicine. 2006;8(2):61.
Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.



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