Vinegar: The Key to a Healthier Gut and Blood Sugar Control?
By now you've probably read (or at least noticed) numerous articles touting the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar daily. As an old folk remedy-turned trendy "superfood," apple cider vinegar has been credited for curing everything from bad digestion to bad breath. The natural health community has even dubbed it the "magic elixir" and swears on the stuff.
But is it really liquid (rose) gold?
Though apple cider vinegar can potentially aid in promoting good health in some ways (think improved gut health, better blood-sugar control, possible modest weight loss, and more) many of the exaggerated and, unfortunately, widely-accepted health claims we hear about are not substantiated by firm research--which is why you'll typically see words like "may promote" and "could help improve" when reading on the topic. In reality, there are more erroneous claims than factual evidence surrounding the subject. So what are you supposed to believe? First, let's look at the the real story; then, we'll tackle the misnomers.
Here are cider vinegar facts that have been validated:
1. It helps support good digestion and our immune systems. Studies show that fermented foods, like vinegar, inhibit the enzymes that help you digest starch, leaving enough starch to feed and encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria--which is what you want (think better digestion and stronger immune systems).
2. It helps keep blood sugar levels in check. Multiple studies have shown that drinking ACV improves insulin sensitivity to high-carb meals, which slows the rise in blood sugar levels and helps lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
3. It improves nutrient absorption. The acetic acid in vinegar can increase your body's ability to absorb important minerals from the food you eat.
4. It promotes healthy cholesterol. Several risk factors of cardiovascular disease may be slightly improved by daily cider vinegar consumption.
5. Helps heartburn and acid reflux. Though it seems counterintuitive, for some, acid reflux is the result of too little stomach acid. If that's the case, ACV introduces more acid into the digestive tract and can help with heartburn and acid reflux. #science
1. It's the magic bullet for weight loss. In one study surrounding vinegar and weight loss published in Japan in 2009, subjects lost only 2-4 pounds in 12 weeks. Point being--even if you go chugging the stuff, don't expect to start magically shedding pounds.
2. Any apple cider vinegar will do. You need to grab a bottle of organic, unfiltered cider vinegar (the cloudy kind) that still has the mother in it. Filtered or pasteurized vinegar kills all the bacteria found in the mother, and any potential probiotic benefits are lost in that process.
3. It has to be ACV. The key ingredient to lowering the glycemic response is acetic acid, which is found in all vinegars. So feel free to try red wine vinegar or white distilled vinegar, if you prefer the taste. Apple cider vinegar just happens to have the best marketing behind it, and is the most palatable to many folks.
4. It is a gold mine of vitamins and minerals. Contrary to popular advertisements, there is no significant amount of vitamins or minerals in apple cider vinegar.
5. It's perfectly fine to drink it straight. Please don't. Vinegar is a potent acid that can burn the tender tissues of the mouth and esophagus if consumer the wrong way. Instead, dilute a few tablespoons in water (and continue reading to learn the best way to drink it).
6. It balances pH levels. This can boost metabolism, strengthen immunity, and slow the aging process. Sounds too good to be true, right? It is. No research verifies these claims.
7. It cures acne. No, no, no. The acid in the vinegar can actually irritate your skin.
8. It whitens teeth. Acid can actually erode enamel off your teeth or stain it like red wine. Sorry.
Still interested in achieving some of the possible benefits of apple cider vinegar? If you want to drink it, at least make sure you're doing it right. Here's how:
Dilute 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar in 8 ounces of water and drink it right before a meal, once or twice a day.
As for me, I'll stick to using it in my salads.