Some media outlets are promoting apple cider vinegar as a miracle cure. Wishful thinking, unfortunately. Miracle cures are rare. That being said, there is some research that supports the use of apple cider vinegar in certain conditions. So, let’s dive deep into the (albeit limited) science of this aromatic liquid.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)?
Vinegar can be made from a variety of fermentable carbohydrates, such as grapes, berries, rice, and apples. During fermentation, yeast converts food sugars into alcohol. If acetic acid bacteria (acetobacter) are present, the alcohol turns into acetic acid.
Many commercial vinegars are made by rapid fermentation. Slower, more natural methods produce slime, which consists of yeast and bacteria that can be seen at the bottom of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Yes, it sounds gross, but it could be good for you. (See also The 5 Best Healthy Drinks.)
Along with acetic acid, vinegar contains vitamins, mineral salts, amino acids, polyphenol compounds (with antioxidant properties), and volatile organic acids. In the United States, vinegar products must contain a minimum of 4 percent acetic acid per 100 mL, as determined by the Food and Drug Administration.
Potential Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) can help with a variety of conditions including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes. It is believed to help reduce or treat infections. However, as with many other treatments, research on its effectiveness is lacking.
The reason for the lack of research? For one thing, researchers had little money; Another is that the studies conducted are small and lack statistical power.
However, there are some results to consider.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Blood Sugar
Carol Johnston, a nutritionist in Arizona State University’s Department of Nutrition, has studied vinegar’s effects on blood glucose for years. Johnston’s research shows that vinegar can help lower blood sugar levels in healthy people and people with prediabetes and type 2 (late-stage) diabetes. “What the acetic acid is doing is inhibiting the absorption of starch,” he theorized.
If you have diabetes, it’s important to tell your doctor because apple cider vinegar may interfere with your medication.
According to data collected by another research team, consuming vinegar before bed “has a positive effect on waking glucose concentrations in type 2 diabetes … but more work is needed to determine whether vinegar is a beneficial adjunctive therapy for people with diabetes.” .”
Apple Cider Vinegar is an anti-bacterial
A 2017 study looked at the effects of apple cider vinegar against two common harmful bacteria, E. coli and S. aureus, and the yeast infection C. albicans. They concluded that “ACV has multiple antimicrobial properties with clinical therapeutic effects.”
However, further research is needed.
Is Apple Cider Vinegar a “supplement” for weight loss?
A common use of apple cider vinegar is weight loss. Some people believe that ACV suppresses appetite and makes you feel full faster because it slows stomach emptying.
One study involved 175 obese Japanese adults. The researchers found that “body weight, BMI, visceral fat (abdominal fat), waist circumference, and serum triglyceride levels were significantly lower in both vinegar groups than in the placebo group.” However, weight loss was minimal – 2-4 pounds over 12 weeks.
Research shows that apple cider vinegar can be a helpful supplement to diet, healthy eating, and regular exercise for weight loss.
Apple Cider Vinegar: Effects on Skin and Hair?
Austin dermatologists Adam Mamelak, MD, and Miriam Hanson, MD, recommend using apple cider vinegar as part of your skin and hair care regimen.
Dr. Mamelak explains that ACV “helps remove bacteria and excess oil from the skin that contribute to acne.” He explains that it can help smooth the skin, treat dandruff, yeast infections, insect bites, scrapes, abrasions, and warts.
Dr. Mamelak and Dr. Hanson caution caution; ACV is acidic and can cause skin and scalp irritation in some people. They also recommend that you test your reaction to ACV with a “patch test” on the skin on the inside of your arm. ACV should not be applied to sensitive genital skin as it may cause chemical burns.
Other potential uses of ACV
There is evidence—albeit poor quality—that apple cider vinegar may be beneficial for a number of health conditions.
Heart disease. Studies in rats have shown that ACV can reduce blood pressure, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and oxidative stress.
Cancer. Another study showed that vinegar can inhibit the growth of human cancer cells in the laboratoryh and sore throat. See sidebar below.
Safety of Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV is pretty safe, if taken in small doses and diluted. According to one report, there are rare reports of adverse reactions. ACV is acidic by nature and can cause acidic injuries and inflammation of the back of the throat, esophagus, stomach, and skin. It also can erode the enamel of the teeth, so if you drink it, rinse your mouth thoroughly with water and wait 10 minutes before brushing your teeth. ACV should not be used for teeth whitening as it may cause serious damage to the teeth.
Final Verdict on Apple Cider Vinegar
Most of the claims about apple cider vinegar’s health benefits are not supported by compelling research. Even so, ACV may be considered as a complementary therapy to traditional medicine in weight loss, minor sore throats, and coughs, and in pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes (only with your doctor’s consent).
If taken in small amounts, in a diluted form, as a drink or in salad dressing, ACV is pretty safe. Just remember to rinse your mouth to prevent damage to tooth enamel.