If you were to take a look at some of the trends popular among the natural health community, you would see that vinegar rates very highly among them. Specifically, apple cider vinegar is quite the buzzword, touted for its numerous benefits and practical uses. As a matter of fact, a closer inspection of the matter would reveal countless people swearing by the stuff, almost making it appear as some sort of nature’s cure-all.
And when you dig deeper into this topic, you will find that it’s really not surprising that apple cider vinegar has this kind of a reputation. It turns out that the reasons for the illustrious status it enjoys come from two sources.
On the one hand, vinegar has had a long and storied history of being used as a folk remedy. It is possible to trace the origins of this all the way back to Hippocrates, the man whose enduring contributions to the field of medicine have earned him the prestigious title of its “Father”. More than 2000 years ago, he would use vinegar in the treatment of his patients. This popularity has persisted ever since and remains strong to this day.
But on the other hand, there have also been modern research efforts which have validated some of the reputed health benefits of apple cider vinegar. While studies in this area are certainly not overwhelming in number, they are also not nonexistent – giving credible evidence to some of the claims.
It is precisely these kinds of benefits, the ones backed by research, that will be the focus of this text. But before we get to them, it is important to quickly explain the process behind the creation of apple cider vinegar.
How Apple Cider Vinegar Gets Made
The making of apple cider vinegar requires a two-step fermentation process. The first step involves crushing a number of apples and introducing yeast to the resulting liquid. This creates alcohol from the sugars.
The second step is to turn that alcohol into vinegar. For this, a specific type of bacteria is required. Acetobacter, to be precise. The result of exposing alcohol to this bacteria is the creation of acetic acid. Aside from water, this acid is the chief component of apple cider vinegar. It gives the vinegar its recognizable sourness and plays a key role in many of its applications.
The Health Benefits
As mentioned, there are a lot of claims out there regarding the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. But the following four stand out.
1) Blood Sugar
Out of all the health benefits of vinegar, the one which has received the most acclaim is its effect on lowering the levels of blood sugar and combating diabetes (particularly type 2). As a matter of fact, research efforts have noted several potential upsides.
One study found that vinegar could improve insulin sensitivity, while another concluded that ingesting vinegar shortly before going to sleep could have a favorable impact on glucose levels after waking up for people suffering from type 2 diabetes. Yet another study found that vinegar could be used as a way to help manage blood sugar levels.
As such, there is clear potential for apple cider vinegar to be useful for people who have diabetes or need to keep their blood sugar in check for different reasons. For example, people who are at a higher risk of developing this illness can use it as a preventive measure.
Of course, there are two very important caveats. One is that apple cider vinegar is not a cure for diabetes and certainly cannot replace other treatment. What it can do is help manage the condition.
The other is that you need to be very careful if you are already taking medication for blood sugar. Check with your doctor before you increase the amount of vinegar you consume – maintaining the correct balance is crucial.
2) Antibacterial Properties
Vinegar is good at killing microbes – people have known that for a long time. And now, research has confirmed this.
One study looked at how apple cider vinegar would fare against three different microbes and found positive results in all cases. The conclusion was that the substance had potential for therapeutic use. Two more studies examined the effect of vinegar on food-borne bacteria (particularly Escherichia coli). Once again, vinegar demonstrated its bacteria-killing properties.
Apple cider vinegar can thus be useful for food preservation and for battling harmful bacteria in general.
3) Weight Reduction
Apple cider vinegar can also help with weight loss. One study found that adding vinegar to a meal increased the feeling of satiety among participants. This is useful in reducing the total amount of food consumed.
Another research effort looked at how obese subjects would respond to the intake of vinegar over a 12-week period. The results showed improvements in a number of categories such as body weight and waist circumference, prompting the conclusion that vinegar could help reduce obesity.
Naturally, apple cider vinegar alone is not enough to produce truly noticeable results. Weight loss requires effort on a number of levels, from exercise to diet. But, it showed definite promise as a way to aid that process.
4) Cholesterol and Blood pressure
Finally, studies on rats showed that vinegar could reduce cholesterol and blood pressure. This benefit is not as conclusive as the previous ones because it is yet to be confirmed on humans, but there is definite potential.
Combined with the findings from the previous studies, these results indicate that heart disease may be another area where apple cider vinegar is beneficial.
The list of potential health benefits of apple cider vinegar does not end here. There is anecdotal evidence linking it to many other uses, but this would require further research to ascertain for sure.
Still, there is no doubt that this ingredient has proven upsides. It is not the wonder drug or elixir of youth that some make it out to be, but it can do its part in a number of areas if consumed moderately. And when it comes to your health, every little bit helps.