Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle or Myth
The other day a client asked me if apple cider vinegar would help her to lose weight. The reason for her question is the multitude of claims on the internet and many advertisements in our health magazines.
According to these sources, apple cider vinegar is a powerful natural health product. It’s claimed to do everything from controlling diabetes to lowering cholesterol and of course helping with weight loss.
Made by fermenting crushed apples, the vinegar is also touted to prevent constipation, ease arthritic joints, reduce heartburn, banish acne and treat eczema among numerous other health benefits.
So I decided to do my own research and see how valid these claims actually were and what they were based upon.
I found only one small study, published in 2009 that tested the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar on weight loss in people. The results were less than impressive.
For the study, 175 obese but otherwise healthy Japanese adults, aged 25 to 60, were assigned to drink, once daily, a 500ml beverage that contained either one tablespoonful of apple cider vinegar(low dose) two tablespoons (high dose) or no vinegar (placebo) for 12 weeks.
At the end of the study, participants who consumed the vinegar drinks achieved greater weight loss than those who drank the placebo drink. Also those who took 2 tablespoons lost more weight than those who consumed the lower dose.
After 3 months the high-dose vinegar group lost 4.1 pounds compared with the low-dose vinegar group who lost 2.6 pounds. Very small weight loss and 4 weeks after the study nearly all participants had gained back the weight.
Apple cider makes you feel less like eating because it causes a queasy stomach from drinking the solution. Mice studies showed that it prevented the buildup of body fat by activating fat-burning genes but this could not be duplicated with humans.
It may not help you but if you have a fat mouse around the house you may slim it down with a little apple cider vinegar.
Blood Glucose Levels
There is promising evidence to support the claim that apple cider vinegar helps lower blood sugar. It seems to be effective in people with pre-diabetes or mild sugar resistance.
If you have pre-diabetes, your blood glucose level is higher than normal, but high enough to be diagnosed as Type 2 diabetes but you are at risk of developing the disease.
Ina study published in the Journal Diabetes Care (2004), researchers from Arizona State University asked people with pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes to consume 20 gm of apple cider vinegar (about 4 teaspoons) diluted in water immediately before eating a high carbohydrate meal.
Doing so blunted the after-meal rise in blood sugar. It also improved how the body used insulin, the hormone that clears sugar from the bloodstream. These improvements were significant in participants with pre-diabetes but only slight in those with diabetes.
Acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is thought to slow the digestion of starch-e.g. carbohydrates in pasta, bread, rice, quinoa, oats, potatoes and other starchy foods—preventing some of it from being absorbed into the bloodstream and raising blood glucose levels.
All vinegars, though, contain acetic acid and can dampen the rise in blood glucose after eating a starchy meal. That means balsamic, red wine, white wine or flavoured and distilled white vinegars, will do the same thing.
Prevents Heart Disease, Stroke, Cancer
Studies in rodents fed a high fat diet have demonstrated that apple cider vinegar can help lower blood cholesterol, blood triglycerides and blood pressure. Once again, it works on rats and mice but not on humans.
Also there is not one study anywhere in the literature that can substantiate the claim that apple cider can prevent cancer.
Furthermore, there is not a stich of evidence anywhere that a daily dose of apple cider vinegar or any vinegar for that matter guards against arthritis, digestive upset, acne or eczema.
Is it worth taking?
If you really are concerned about blood sugar, weight control or blood pressure, do not short-cut your efforts with apple cider vinegar. You must focus on a healthy diet, one that includes salads with healthy dressings of different types of vinegars and daily exercise. If you insist on taking apple cider daily then at least add it to a very healthy home -made salad dressing rather than taking it alone.
Apple cider is sold filtered and pasteurized or unfiltered and unpasteurized. The unfiltered is cloudy and retains the “mother” bacteria that fermented the apples, which some experts contend is full of beneficial probiotic organisms.
Do not drink apple cider vinegar straight. Undiluted vinegar—in liquid or pill form—can irritate the throat and esophagus and increase stomach acidity. Sipping it plain can also damage tooth enamel.
Prolonged large doses of apple cider vinegar can lead to dangerously low potassium levels in the body.
Since apple cider vinegar may reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, it could potentially amplify the blood-sugar lowering effect of anti-diabetes drugs. In this case you should talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you decide to try apple cider vinegar.
Some people with diabetes have delayed stomach emptying, a disorder caused by high blood sugar levels. Apple cider vinegar could make this problem worse.