Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits Claims
Supported by Evidence, May Be and Unsubstantiated

What's the scientific truth behind the apple cider vinegar benefits? I look at what the preliminary scientific studies are telling us.



Vinegar is a popular health tonic, but is apple cider vinegar all it is cracked up to be?

As with many beneficial natural products, some people do make exaggerated claims. Apple cider vinegar is not a cure for cancer or the key to eternal youth. However, it has known to be a healthy beverage since the beginning of human civilization.

Dr. Carol Johnston of the University of Arizona offers the following examples of the traditional uses of vinegar:

Hippocrates (420 BC) used vinegar medicinally to manage wounds. Cleopatra (50 BC) dissolved precious pearls in vinegar and offered her love potion to Anthony. Sung Tse, the 10th century creator of forensic medicine, advocated hand washing with sulfur and vinegar to avoid infection during autopsies.

There have not been many scientific studies conducted to date, but there have been some promising results. In this article, I group the various benefits claims to three categories:

  • Supported by Evidence

  • May Be

  • Unsubstantiated


Supported by Evidence

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits #1:
Stabilize Blood Sugar

Vinegar may help balance your blood sugar, especially if you are at risk of becoming diabetic.

A 2007 study performed by researchers at Arizona State University showed that participants who took 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime had lower blood sugar levels when they woke up than a control group.

Another 2004 study found that it increased insulin sensitivity by 34 percent in pre-diabetic test subjects and 19 percent in subjects with type 2 diabetes

If you have type 2 diabetes and you are managing it with diet only, vinegar may help, but talk to your doctor first.

One study conducted in Sweden concluded that apple cider vinegar can delay gastric emptying and make it more difficult for diabetics to predict how their blood sugar will fluctuate after meals.

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits #2:
Promote Weight Loss

Apple cider vinegar has been touted as a weight loss cure.

A 2005 study conducted by Lund University in Sweden showed that people who had vinegar with a piece of white bread felt fuller for longer than a control group that ate bread alone. To quote the scientists:

Three levels of vinegar (18, 23 and 28 mmol acetic acid) were served with a portion of white wheat bread containing 50 g available carbohydrates as breakfast.

Supplementation of a meal based on white wheat bread with vinegar reduced postprandial responses of blood glucose and insulin, and increased the subjective rating of satiety.

The results indicate an interesting potential of fermented and pickled products containing acetic acid.

So, drinking a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in water may help you control your eating habits and lose weight faster.

Some people claim it increases your metabolism, however, this has not been conclusively shown.

Apple Cider Vinegar Weight Loss Secrets According to Science


May Be

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits #3:
Balance PH

Some alternative health practitioners believe that apple cider vinegar can help adjust the PH balance of your body.

According to them, the body naturally has a ph of around 7.35 and 7.45, slightly alkaline, or basic. However, many of the foods in the modern diet produce acid when they are metabolized, throwing the body out of balance.

These practitioners say that apple cider vinegar produces alkaline by-products as it is metabolized, restoring the body to the proper ph balance. Supposedly, this alkalinizing property is what makes it an effective remedy for colds and flu.

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits #4:
Sooth Indigestion

Given that apple cider vinegar is composed mostly of acetic acid, the idea that it could help with indigestion seems to fly in the face of logic. However, this vinegar has been used as a digestive tonic for years, and many people report relief from indigestion after drinking a small amount of vinegar in water.

There are different theories as far as why it would work.

Some people believe that indigestion is actually caused when the body does not produce enough stomach acid, and that apple cider vinegar helps correct this.

Other people believe that indigestion is caused when the PH balance of the body as a whole is out of whack, and that apple cider vinegar helps balance it.

More study is definitely needed. I was skeptical, but tried drinking 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in water with honey, and was surprised to find that my stomach settled almost immediately.

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits #5:
Improve Heart Health

If you have high cholesterol, it may help you control it. According to a 2006 Japanese study, rats that were fed apple cider vinegar showed a reduction in blood cholesterol levels.

Another 1999 study conducted by Hu reported that women who consumed oil-and-vinegar salad dressings frequently (5-6 times or more per week) were 46% less likely to die from heart attack compared to those who rarely consumed them.

The scientists speculated that because oil and vinegar dressings are a major dietary source of dietary alpha-linolenic acid, an antiarrhythmic agent, the acid may be responsible for the improved heart conditions.

In a 2001 study conducted by Kondo, rats that were fed vinegar had significantly lower systolic blood pressure (approximately 20 mm Hg).

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits #6:
Increase Calcium Absorption

Some people claim that it is beneficial because it contains many vitamins and minerals.

This is not quite true.

It does have vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals like potassium, but not nearly as many as real fruits and vegetables do.

But, the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar makes it easier for your body to absorb nutrients, including calcium.

It is especially valuable as a salad dressing, since the calcium in many dark, leafy greens is difficult for your body to absorb. Simply drinking it as a tonic before a healthy meal can help your body make the most of the nutrients you are giving it.

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits #7:
Prevent Cancer

It is no cure for cancer, but it may help prevent certain types. In petri dishes, vinegar is able to slow down and even kill cancer cells.

However, your body is not a petri dish, and human studies have had mixed results.

A study conducted in Linzhou, China, demonstrated that vinegar was associated with a decreased risk for esophageal cancer. However, it was associated with a 4.4-fold greater risk for bladder cancer in a Serbia study.


Unsubstantiated

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits #8:
Remove Toxins

Vinegar beverages are often used as part of detox program. They are included in fasts or are sipped with specially planned "detox diets," often consisting of raw fruits and vegetables.

As far as detox drinks go, as long as you don't overdo it, it is one of the safer methods to detox. There are few side effects, and these are easy to manage.

Try drinking 1-2 teaspoons in a full glass of water once or twice a day.

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits #9:
Clear Up Acne

Drinking apple cider may help clear up acne. This particular health benefit has not been extensively studied, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of it working to help get rid of pimples.

The theory is that in some people, acne can be a response to toxins picked up from food, unhealthy skin care products and the world around us. Apple cider vinegar works as a detox to help flush toxins from your body. Once the toxins are gone, your skin should clear up.

Many people on the acne.org forums felt that it had helped them. It may not work for your acne, but other than the taste, which takes some getting used it, it would not hurt to give it a try.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Acne Recipe

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits #10:
Arthritis

It is a popular folk remedy for arthritis, although there are no studies supporting its use.

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence from people who say they've been helped, but since arthritis can flare up and then subside, there is no way to tell whether it was the apple cider vinegar that helped them or whether their disease just subsided temporarily.

Most alternative practitioners claim that it works against arthritis by dissolving acid crystals that cause joint pain and stiffness.

However, crystals are only associated with certain types of arthritis, mainly gout and psuedogout.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, caused by inflammation of the joint due to past damage or wear and tear. Since the "crystal theory" would only involve a small percentage of arthritis sufferers, if vinegar works for arthritis there must be another mechanism that has not yet been discovered.

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References

Carol S. Johnston, PhD, RD and Cindy A. Gaas, BS (2006). Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect. MedGenMed. 2006; 8(2): 61. Published online 2006 May 30.

White AM, Johnston CS (2007). Vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 11: 2814-2815.

Ostman E, Granfeldt Y, Persson L, et al. (2005). Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 59;983-988.

Fushimi T, Suruga K, Oshima Y, Fukiharu M, Tsukamoto Y, Goda T (2006). Dietary acetic acid reduces serum cholesterol and triacylglycerols in rats fed a cholesterol-rich diet. Br J Nutr. (2006) 95.5: 916-924.

Kondo S, Tayama K, Tsukamoto Y, Ikeda K, Yamori Y (2001). Antihypertensive effects of acetic acid and vinegar on spontaneously hypertensive rats. Biosci Biotechnol Biochem. 2001;65:2690–2694.

Hu FB, Stampfer MJ, Manson JE, et al (1999). Dietary intake of alpha-linolenic acid and risk of fatal ischemic heart disease among women. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69:890–897.

Apple Cider Vinegar (as a drink) Reviews. Acne.Org. http://www.acne.org/apple-cider-vinegar-as-a-drink-reviews/455/page1.html

Alleman, Gayle A. Health Benefits Of Vinegar. HowStuffWorks.com. http://recipes.howstuffworks.com/the-health-benefits-of-vinegar.htm

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