apple cider vinegar healthy

Imagine a substance that is cheap and easy to make, can be taken internally for a variety of ailments, can be applied topically to heal a rich assortment of problems, can be used as a cleanser in the home, and has a shelf life of a thousand years. Enter our featured foodstuff today: is apple cider vinegar good for you?

Medicinal use of apple cider vinegar can be traced back to Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, who used it to treat wounds. In the 10th century, Sung Tse, the founder of forensic medicine, recommended use of apple cider vinegar, also known as ACV, together with sulfur to protect from infection when conducting autopsies. In recent times, popularity of ACV has been on the rise. [1]

Origins of Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apples for several weeks or months. The sugar in apples is first fermented to alcohol and later to acetic acid, the main active ingredient in apple cider vinegar. During the second phase of fermentation, acetic acid bacteria, also known as acetobacter and some beneficial yeast grow in numbers and accumulate to form a non-toxic layer of slime on the surface of the vinegar. This layer of slime is called mother due to its richness in nutrients and health benefits.

In ACV, we find the concentrated essence of the best of apples coupled with limitless by-products of bacterial fermentation, including acetic acid. Vinegar was probably first discovered over 10,000 years ago, when our ancient ancestors found that some foods  ferment into alcohol, with the next fermentation step creating vinegar. Vinegar was first mentioned for its medicinal value in Babylonia around 7000 years ago.

Vinegar holds a rich place in history and is mentioned often throughout the Bible. It has been said that God is always trying to make vinegar and it’s the winemaker’s job to interrupt the process at wine.

How Acidic is Apple Cider Vinegar

The word acid is derived from acetum (Latin, “vinegar”). Bases were substances that were usually soapy to the touch and that could react with acids in water to form neutral salts. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, one is a common base or alkaline agent in your kitchen. Vinegar or lemon juice is a common acid used in the kitchen.

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pH (potential hydrogen atoms) ranges from one to 14. One is a very strong acid. 14 is a very strong base. Water is neutral at pH 7. Human blood is slightly acidic at 7.41. Vinegar is a strongly acidic solution with a pH of around two, which is why Cleopatra was able to dissolve a pearl in glass of vinegar. I have not tried this experiment.

What Can Apple Cider Vinegar Do

Several studies in animals and humans have found that acetic acid and apple cider vinegar may promote fat burning and weight loss, decrease blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and improve cholesterol levels externally for all kinds of cosmetic and disinfectant purposes, and can be used in so many jobs around the house that it merits the name: “panacea”.

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What is in Apple Cider Vinegar

A substance known as ‘the mother’ (or vinegar mother) forms during the vinegar-making process. The vinegar mother is made up of proteins, enzymes and ‘good’ bacteria – all things good for you. It may look like strands or cobwebs in the vinegar or it may be like a gelatinous blob. This gives ACV its cloudy-brown appearance. ‘The mother’ can be used to kick-start further batches of ACV because it triggers the fermentation process. ‘The mother’ is recognized as being the primary substance that’s responsible for the health benefits of apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is filled with many nutritional elements. While not high in vitamins or minerals good quality products contain additional amino acids and antioxidants.

  • Pectin
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B6
  • Biotin
  • Folic Acid
  • Niacin
  • Panthonthenic acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Polyphenol
  • Amino Acids

How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Work?

The very important but confusing aspect of eating an acidic food, like vinegar or lemon juice, is that it creates an alkaline environment in the body. What happens is the acid gets to the small intestines, where the pancreas detects acid in the gut, then releases a bicarbonate buffer into the bloodstream. The bloodstream of a healthy adult has a pH which is mildly alkaline, about 7.41.

Benefits of “Post Biotics”

Take milk as the “prebiotic”. Add lactobacillus as the “probiotic”. The the resulting fermented milk is yogurt, which is rich in metabolic byproducts of fermentation, aka “post biotics”. Same thing happens with cabbage to sauerkraut. Same thing happens when we eat plant fiber, aka resistant starches, and feed our friendly bacteria in the gut, who then produce a bewildering array of useful/essential post biotics, such as butyrate and hydrogen.

Unpasteurized vinegar not only contains these post biotics in abundance, but a rich assortment of probiotics, primarily concentrated in the “mother”. All of which is good for the gut, digestion, the microbiome, blood glucose, and metabolic pH. Remember “death begins in the gut”. Keep your gut healthy as a frontline defense against diseases and premature aging.

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Science backed benefits of apple cider vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar is becoming increasing popular as a home remedy and a one-stop medicinal aid. There are many reasons to include it in your daily routine and research shows ACV has many healthful properties.

Known for its ability to control blood sugar

One of the most studied benefits of ACV is its ability to regulate blood sugars for both diabetics and those without diabetes. Some researchers believe that high blood sugar levels are a major cause of aging and chronic disease. A recent study showed vinegar consumption to have a glucose-lowering effect in patients with glucose abnormalities. A mixture of vinegar and olive oil is a common salad dressing used in the Mediterranean diet. The main constituent of vinegar is acetic acid, which gives vinegar its characteristic taste and smell. The consumption of vinegar with meals was used as a folk medicine for the treatment of diabetes before any pharmacologic glucose-lowering therapy [12] Additionally, vinegar ingestion at bedtime has been shown to decrease fasting glucose levels in humans with type 2 diabetes. Apple cider vinegar helps to stabilize blood sugar levels. It also reduces the glycemic index of food. It has been suggested that ACV works similarly to metformin, a drug used by diabetics to control blood sugar level. But because apple cider vinegar is more of a food than a drug, it doesn’t pose the side effects posed by drugs like metformin. [4]According to this study [5], taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar at bedtime can reduce fasting glucose levels by 4-6 percent.

This study [6] found that eating breakfast containing vinegar can decrease blood glucose levels by up to 55 percent.

May reduce blood pressure

A study in 2001 found that the acetic acid itself, the main component of vinegar, significantly reduced both blood pressure and renin activity compared to controls given no acetic acid or vinegar. The same study reported a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure (approximately 20 mm Hg) in spontaneously hypertensive (SHR) rats fed a standard laboratory diet mixed with either vinegar or an acetic acid solution as compared with SHR rats fed the same diet mixed with deionized water.

Anti-tumor activity

One of the less known benefits of apple cider vinegar is its potential in fighting cancer. According to a number of studies, consumption of apple cider vinegar could help in the prevention and treatment for cancer.

This study [2] found that acetic acid, the main ingredient in apple cider vinegar, kills stomach cancer cells. While the study involved the application of acetic acid to stomach cancer cells in test tubes, the study seriously suggests that apple cider vinegar has potential as a treatment for some types of stomach cancers.

Additionally, there are other studies that suggest that consumption of vinegar could offer some level of prevention from esophageal cancer [3]

At 40 days post-inoculation, vinegar-fed mice in both experimental groups had significantly smaller tumor volumes when compared with their control counterparts. Vinegars are also a dietary source of polyphenols, compounds synthesized by plants to defend against oxidative stress. Ingestion of polyphenols in humans enhances in vivo antioxidant protection and reduces cancer risk.

It is worth to note that cancerous cells produce lactic acid as they grow. It is also worth noting that the ideal blood pH ranges between 7.35 – 7.45. Deviation from this pH range can negatively impact many functions in the body. In general, the body has mechanisms to tightly control blood pH. Actually, some acid foods, like lemon juice and vinegar, have an “alkaline tide” from their potassium content that helps to stabilize blood pH.

Kills harmful bacteria

Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria. Vinegar is a food preservative and can inhibit E. coli in foods. ACV has a history of use as a disinfectant.

Supports the immune function

Apple cider vinegar has powerful detoxifying properties including liver detoxification and toning the lymphatic system. Additionally, ACV is rich in antioxidants which help reduce free radicals in the body and ultimately reduce oxidative stress. Detoxification and reduction in free radicals help to improve homeostatic balance. [7, 8]

Studies have also shown that ACV is antimicrobial. This means that ACV can be a healthier alternative to chemical medications. And because it is a food product, it can help keep away various microbes and therefore minimize infections. For instance, ACV can kill mycobacterium tuberculosis which is otherwise resistant to most disinfectants. [9]

ACV can therefore support the immune function by preventing various infections. This is especially helpful in people with compromised immunity.

Helps to reduce weight

Regular consumption of apple cider vinegar can help in losing excess weight. ACV is believed to work by regulating appetite and satiety. [10]

According to a number of studies [11, 12, 13] ACV interferes with the working of some enzymes involved in synthesis of carbohydrates and thereby controls blood glucose levels. ACV also helps the liver to better deal with lipogenesis and synthesis of fatty acids. This leads to healthier cholesterol levels. ACV also helps in detoxification which improves liver functions. All these play a part in supporting weight loss and overall health.

Regulates the body’s pH

A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, cross-over research studied tested the efficacy of the organic apple cider vinegar on alleviation of the heartburn symptom related to Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Can prevent heart disease

Studies show that apple cider vinegar can help improve cardiovascular health in a number of ways. Regular consumption of ACV helps to lower cholesterol levels in blood. This leads to a lower incidence of high blood pressure and ultimately heart disease. [14, 15, 16]

Most of the available studies have been conducted on laboratory animals. However, there are human studies that have shown that ACV can control blood sugar levels and therefore help manage diabetes. Diabetes complications can lead to high blood pressure and ultimately, heart disease. Another human study conducted on women subjects found that, eating salads containing vinegar led to a significant reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. [17]

Preserves food

Apple cider vinegar has been used successfully to preserve foods for ages. This method of food preservation is making a serious comeback. And while distilled vinegar is used in conventional home pickling, use of apple cider vinegar has been growing steadily especially with health conscious individuals. The only downside is that ACV can discolor fruits and veggies. [18]

Besides preserving food, the antimicrobial properties of ACV also come in handy when it is used to wash fruits and vegetables. Even the FDA has confirmed that vinegar, besides lemon juice, are readily available, effective household sanitizers. [19]

Reduce pain for insect bite, stinging nettle, poison ivy, jelly fish

Immediate vinegar application at the site of jellyfish stings is practiced at various coastal locations around the world because vinegar deactivates the nematocysts.

Other apple cider vinegar  benefits

While there aren’t reliable scientific studies proving it, according to folklore apple cider vinegar has many more health benefits. From various reports, ACV can help treat heartburn, dandruff, warts, relieve sore throat and cough, and soothe sunburn.

Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV mixed with water, juice, or another liquid is safe to drink, and it’s fine to use it on food. However, with a pH between 2.4 and 3.3, vinegar is acidic enough to erode tooth enamel, inflame the esophagus and stomach, and trigger nausea and acid reflux.

It may also interfere with some medicines, including diabetes medicines and diuretics (fluid tablets). Always check with your doctor before starting any new supplements, especially if you take regular medicines.

Should I Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar is one of the most versatile, tasty, and health additions to any kitchen. Because of its acid content, vinegar is able to tenderize, meats, add tartness to flavors, curdle milk, and preserve foods· from bacterial infection. Regular consumption and use is good, but don’t expect it to cure all ailments. Always consult with your health professional.

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe

You can buy apple cider vinegar, but it’s also easy to make from scratch. It costs next to nothing since apple scraps are typically discarded when using apple in other recipes.

Ingredients

  • Apple peelings or cores
  • Sugar (1 tablespoon per one cup of water
  • Filtered/Non-Chlorinated Water
  • Glass jar (a quart is a great place to start, but you can definitely make larger quantities, too, in which case, use a half gallon jar.)

Directions

  1. Submerge apple scraps in water and mix in a little sugar.
  2. Cover jar with paper towel or coffee filter.
  3. Allows to sit for 2-3 weeks.
  4. After 2-3 weeks, strain. Remove apples.
  5. Allow vinegar to sit at room temperature for 1 month.
  6. When fermenting is complete, store vinegar in airtight container at room temperature.
  7. Can keep for 6 months. May deteriorate if left longer at 6-12 months.

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