Healthy or Hype: Apple Cider Vinegar

You may be wondering to yourself, why are all these people taking shots of VINEGAR? What could possibly possess someone to voluntarily gag down this acidic, acetic, golden liquid known as Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)?

apple-cider-vinegar-salad-dressing-015Apple Cider Vinegar Salad Dressing

As it turns out, there is actually some evidence to support this hyped up ingredient! But, not as much as you might think. Research on natural health products are few and far between. Think about it – vinegar is readily available and CHEAP, where’s the money in that for researchers and manufacturers?

… Exactly.

According to Bragg, arguably the best quality and most popular apple cider vinegar product on the market, the main reasons people use ACV is for culinary uses, health and wellness purposes, and as a beauty aid.

Great Flavor for Foods and Recipes

One of the simplest ways I incorporate ACV into my daily routine is by sprinkling it over my salads and vegetables. Since getting away from prepared salad dressings, I have relied on it more and more to bring more flavor dimension to the oodles of veggies that I eat every day. ACV works especially well in dressings (like in the recipe linked above), dips, and marinades.

It can also be added to soups and smoothies and to make vegan buttermilk in cooking (1 cup almond milk + 1 Tablespoon ACV – let sit 5-10 minutes). I have also used ACV in baking as a baking powder replacement by combining with baking soda as a leavener. This will allow baked goods to rise and you saved yourself from having to stoop to using that box that has been open in the back of the fridge since you moved in (you know you’re supposed to replace that right? And NOT eat it!?).

Natural Beauty Aids

Apple cider vinegar is said to help your skin look healthy, vibrant, and youthful. I’m not so sure about all of that. Your skin is a complex organ (yes, it is considered to be an organ) and can have problems for a number of reasons, with diet and hormones only being part of the equation. If my skin better than it used to be? Possibly. Has it also been better than it is now? Definitely. Take that how you want.

I have not tested this out, but ACV is supposed to be effective as a skin cleanser and toner and can sooth sunburns. I don’t think I’ll be getting a sunburn in the middle of March in the Midwest, but I may have to keep that one in mind for the summer months if I ever let my porcelain skin be touched by the cruel light of day (jokes, people, although I am pretty pale).

ACV may not contain high levels of very many nutrients, but it is high in acetic acid. Acetic acid is a natural antimicrobial, meaning it kills bacteria and pathogens, which may be why it can be effective as a skin cleanser if that is indeed what it causing your troubles. Some have used ACV topically to treat nail fungus, lice, warts, and ear infections. Other accounts claim it helps condition hair, eliminate dandruff, and can even replace deodorant and freshen breath.

DSC_0637Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies

Health and Wellness

This section is probably the reason you decided to read this post.

Most of the actual research done on vinegar has looked at its effect on insulin and blood sugar levels, and results are promising, especially for those with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes:

  • Improvement in insulin sensitivity during a high-carbohydrate meal by 19-34% and significantly lowered blood sugar and insulin response
  • Reduction in blood sugar by 24% when eating 50 grams of white bread
  • 2 tablespoons of ACV before bed can reducing fasting blood sugar by 4% or 1 tablespoon with meals twice a day may also reduce fasting blood sugar (even more than daily metformin, an oral diabetes medication)

Given the high cost of diabetes treatment and management, the low investment of vinegar may be well worth the self-experimentation. Will it cure your diabetes? No. Is it an easy lifestyle change that may better help you manage your blood sugar as part of an overall healthy diet, exercise, and medication plan? I believe so.

Some studies also show that vinegar may help you lose weight! Taking into account its effects on insulin and blood sugar, this observation is not surprising. Several studies suggest that vinegar can increase satiety → eating fewer calories → eventual weight lost on the scale over time. One study of obese individuals showed daily vinegar consumption led to reduced belly fat (central adiposity being associated with higher risk of chronic disease), waist circumference, lower blood triglyceride levels, and weight loss. ACV is also believed to inhibit the digestion of starch → fewer calories absorbed.

Heart health benefits, too!? Given that cardiovascular disease is currently the world’s leading cause of death, are you really going to refuse to add a tablespoon of vinegar to your day?

Personally, I feel like my digestion is improved when I get my daily dose of ACV. Enzymes, acetic acid, and fiber (in the form of pectin) can help the body better absorb minerals from food and allow for healthy bowel movements. If you’re going to learn anything about me through the course of this blog, know that I’m a little obsessed with gut health. I’m not alone either. Many others find that starting their day with an ACV cocktail helps get digestion (and the bowels) going. Pectin is also what is known as a prebiotic – meaning that it helps feed the probiotics (good gut bacteria) in your body. Being someone with a history of gut issues, I’m always in favor of less bloating!

3-healthy-drinks-2ACV Drink

What to Look For

Bragg Organic Apple Cider Vinegar is almost commonplace among grocery store shelves nowadays, and I do try to pick up that brand when I can actually get my hands on it. I was pleasantly surprised to find another brand while searching for that elusive ACV that Simple Truth (Kroger) also had a product! Bragg often gets sold out in my local supermarket, but Simple Truth was still on the shelf! Thrive Market also sells their own brand at an even more affordable price.

(plus tons of other great stuff, referral link)

I look for “unfiltered” or “with the Mother” on the label (which both Bragg and Simple Truth brands included). If you have ever noticed a cloudy mixture settling on the bottom of your ACV bottle, that’s what I am referring to. This cloudiness contains the beneficial enzymes and bacteria that give ACV its well-earned hype. Pasteurized vinegars do not have these same benefits.

Tried it and didn’t like the taste? Well, you’re in luck! ACV is also great for an all-natural cleaner for around the house! Polish wood, dissolve dirt, kill shower mildew, degrease hard-to-clean pots and pans, kill weeds, fertilize your garden, and unclog your drains! Have a cat that’s going through a phase? ACV can supposedly help neutralize ammonia odors from a cat who has sprayed on any and all linens. Did your dog bring in unwelcome guests? Fleas hate the taste of ACV.

How to Use and Words of Warning

Personally, I add about 1-2 tablespoons to the water that I sip on throughout the day. If I have a salad, I will use 1 tablespoon on the salad and 1 in my water. However it happens, I do try and get those 2 tablespoons in somehow.

For the most part, apple cider vinegar seems to be safe. I highly recommend that you dilute the ACV before use! Because of its acidity, ACV may erode tooth enamel. I mix 3 cups water with 1 Tablespoon ACV (or 1 cup per teaspoon). You may look like a badass taking that shot of straight ACV, but prolonged use of undiluted vinegar over time can lead to aggravation of your esophagus.

In some cases, ACV can interact with certain medications and decrease potassium levels in the body. That’s kind of an important electrolyte in the body. Some, especially those with type 2 diabetes, may experience abnormally low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) due to its ability to reduce blood sugar levels. This may be especially problematic in those who are taking glucose-lowering medications, such as insulin.

As with most anything else out there, ACV is not a miracle food that will make all of your hopes and dreams come true. It will also not erase the effects an otherwise unhealthy lifestyle and give you free rein to never exercise, get poor sleep for months on end, and eat french fries for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Tell me how YOU ACV!
Shots? Dressing? Tonics? Cleanser?


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