Apple cider vinegar has been on our shelves for years. But in the last few years, it’s become the hottest supplement in town. Health claims abound – but is it something you should get on board with?
We’re sold on the benefits of apple cider vinegar! But before you start splashing it on everything, it’s good to understand what it is, how it works, and how to use it.
Read on for your ultimate beginner’s guide to apple cider vinegar.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Far from being a new health craze, apple cider vinegar has actually been used as a home remedy for centuries.
Like its sweet cousin apple cider, it’s made from crushed apples that have fermented. A second fermentation allows the yeast and bacteria in the mix to team up and create vinegar.
If you’re thinking fermentation equals alcohol, you’d be right! But that alcohol is then converted into acetic acid by the bacteria in the ‘mother’. Once this process has finished, apple cider vinegar contains around 5% acetic acid. This varies from brand to brand.
Where Does the ‘Mother’ Come In?
A quick glance at the apple cider vinegar section in your local supermarket will show you two main types. There is a crystal clear, filtered version. The second version is called ‘with the mother.’ This means that the vinegar is raw, unpasteurized, and still contains the yeast and bacteria that helped it to ferment.
The ‘mother’ is perfectly safe to eat and even has some health benefits. This contains acetic acid bacteria. This is thought to be a probiotic, which could support a healthy gut. The key apple cider vinegar benefits, though, come from the acetic acid.
What’s In the Final Product?
Apple cider vinegar retains a lot of the goodness of apples. It contains vitamins, including vitamin C and certain B vitamins. It can also include minerals such as sodium, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Different producers use different types of apples as their main raw ingredient. That means each brand’s product will contain slightly different components. It primarily contains acetic acid and also contains citric acid, and malic acid.
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits
The Internet is awash with the purported health benefits of apple cider vinegar. With so many claims and plenty of neigh-sayers, it can be hard to know what to believe. So what does apple cider vinegar do?
Apple cider vinegar is not a medicine or a full treatment for any condition in its own right. However, there is both scientific and plenty of anecdotal evidence to support the following health claims.
Helps With Blood Sugar Management
People who have type 2 diabetes have high blood sugar levels. They are caused by either insulin resistance or an inability to naturally produce insulin in their bodies.
Some individuals may have insulin resistance but are not yet diabetic. In this condition, the cells are not able to use insulin properly. This means that the cells cannot absorb glucose easily.
Blood sugar levels are higher than they should be in healthy people. However, the pancreas can continue making enough insulin to keep blood sugar levels in the healthy range. If this continues, over time, you could develop type two diabetes.
Apple cider vinegar can help us whether we are diabetic or not. A 2004 study gave apple cider vinegar to a range of people, some of whom were insulin resistant or had diabetes. They drank 20 grams of apple cider vinegar before eating a meal that was high in carbohydrates. Their insulin sensitivity was then tested after eating.
The result was improved insulin sensitivity after eating for insulin-resistant participants. Other small-scale studies have also shown that apple cider vinegar reduces blood sugar after eating. Consuming apple cider vinegar before bed also seems to be beneficial for fasting blood sugar levels.
If you are diabetic, discuss this with your doctor. It could be dangerous to take apple cider vinegar alongside medications designed to lower your blood sugar.
Clearly, further large-scale research is needed into how effective apple cider vinegar is and who should use it. But early evidence supports the claims that it has a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels.
Supports Weight Loss
No one would claim that apple cider vinegar is the single answer to losing weight. However, some studies bear out that it may help in a couple of important ways.
Firstly, a 2014 study revealed that acetic acid can help reduce appetite. Acetic acid is made of short-chain fatty acids called acetate. The study found that this acid reduces appetite via a central homeostatic mechanism.
Further studies have also shown that vinegar can also promote a feeling of satiety or fullness. This could be due to the acid slowing the rate food leaves your stomach.
While it’s great that apple cider vinegar can support you to achieve your weight-loss goals, other factors are more important. These include calorie intake, eating a range of healthy foods, and keep activity levels up. That said, a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar contains only about three calories. Supplementing this will not greatly impact your daily calorie intake.
May Lower Cholesterol
Human studies have not yet been conducted, but rat studies are encouraging. One study gave obese rats a daily dose of apple cider vinegar. Results showed reduced levels of total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol.
As mentioned earlier, the ‘mother’ is thought to be a probiotic, which supports a healthy gut. Additionally, many people who suffer from indigestion and heartburn take apple cider vinegar to gain relief.
It might seem crazy to take an acidic ingredient for heartburn! But it is thought that apple cider vinegar actually helps to neutralize stomach acid and fight harmful bacteria.
How to Take Apple Cider Vinegar
Clearly, nobody wants to drink apple cider vinegar shots. But there are plenty of tasty ways of incorporating it into your diet.
It can be used anywhere that you would normally use another acidic ingredient. If you use lemon juice to add a little zing when cooking, try using ACV instead. You can also use it in salad dressings.
Many people find that diluting a tablespoon or two in a glass of water makes a refreshing drink. Some brands are more fruity and palatable than others – shop around to find one that suits your tastes. Just be careful not to drink it neat – more on that below. There is no set dose, but most people take one to two tablespoons each time.
As we’ve seen, studies have shown that 40ml of apple cider vinegar before meals lowers blood sugar levels after eating. That’s why many people, whether they are diabetic or not, take a couple of tablespoons before meals.
Many advocates encourage having two tablespoons in water about 20 minutes before eating. This can help to reduce bloating and get the blood sugar control benefits mentioned earlier.
If you’ve started incorporating intermittent fasting into your life, apple cider vinegar can be a helpful substitute. Some fasts may recommend having nothing but plain water. But if your plan allows you a little leeway, having a small amount in your morning water may help you feel fuller and have an easier fast.
Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements
Some people find that taking apple cider vinegar, even mixed with water, causes them nausea. If you would like to get the benefits without the taste, there are various alternatives on the market.
Tablets and even gummies are available that give you a dose while avoiding the unpleasant aftereffects.
Cautions with Apple Cider Vinegar
As with other acidic substances, it’s important to use apple cider vinegar carefully so that it does not cause harm. Here are a couple of areas to consider.
Protecting Your Skin
Some have claimed that apple cider vinegar can help cure skin problems. This is because it has some natural antibacterial properties. However, apple cider vinegar can actually cause skin irritation.
If applied undiluted to the skin, it can even cause burns. Be very careful and do thorough research before trying any suggestions for using apple cider vinegar on the skin.
The acid in apple cider vinegar is strong enough to do damage to your tooth enamel. That’s why it’s better not to take it neat. Prepare an apple cider vinegar drink that dilutes 1-2 tablespoons in a glass of water. To be extra safe, you can also rinse your mouth with water after drinking it.
For even more protection, take the apple cider vinegar drink through a straw. This will bypass the teeth and avoid direct contact with them.
Should I Supplement With Apple Cider Vinegar?
We believe in apple cider vinegar as a health supplement. It might be as old as the hills, but the benefits of apple cider vinegar are still as powerful as ever!
Follow our guide to apple cider vinegar, and you can experience help with weight loss. You can achieve greater control over your blood sugar and can even soothe some stomach issues.
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