Apple Cider Vinegar has been around a long time as a health food; my Mum says her Mum used to take it every day when she was younger, but it's had a bit of a resurgence recently. So today we're looking in to why this is make such a big impact in the health world.
According to Reader's Digest, and other articles, Apple Cider Vinegar has been claimed to have the following benefits: Aids weight loss, helps manage blood sugar and reduces the risk of diabetes, fades bruises, cures bad breath, whitens teeth, helps fight colds, boosts energy, helps fight acid reflux and digestion problems, fights acne, gets rid of sore throats, fights cancer and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure (to name a few). That's a lot of benefits!
So how does it do that? They claim the acid in the vinegar kills off germs and fights bacteria, and also interferes with the digestion of starch and sugar in the stomach, meaning it's difficult for the body to absorb these. They also say the acid in the vinegar also helps to suppress your appetite and boosts your metabolism, helping you to lose weight, whilst giving you energy. To fight acne, the antibacterial properties of the vinegar apparently help cleanse the skin whilst also softening it and reducing scarring, killing bacteria and rinsing dirt away to prevent breakouts.
I researched the the effects on weight loss and found on WebMD that it seems it hasn't been found to have too much of a significant effect on it's own, (about 1-3lbs over 3 months without any diet or exercise), but it has been shown to have much greater effects on blood sugar, proving over many years of research to have a big impact on the absorbtion of starch and sugar. This could be a great help to a lot of people with diabetes. I also found an article on Cosmopolitan that highlighted a number of 'claims' of apple cider vinegar aren't proven, including that it clears up acne and whitens teeth, highlighting that all the acid could actually damage your enamel and lead to staining, and could cause damage to your skin if used neat. However, they did corroborate the positive effects of the vinegar on the absorbtion of carbohydrates when taken with water just before a starchy meal, but warned not to think you have a free pass to eat sugar and carbohydrates in abundance! Damn!
The problem with most 'health food' claims is that there is often little research to support it, and is a great way of selling more of a product. I tested out using apple cider vinegar on a cold sore recently and definitely noticed that it dried up a lot more quickly than when I've had them before, and when combined with coconut oil, it went in two days, but I'm no health expert and I can't guarantee that it's because of either of these products. I can also vouch for the positive effect on acid reflux, and have had no symptoms since I started using the vinegar, where as before it was a regular problem, however, some claims state that this depends on the cause of the reflux, so be sure to check with a doctor first if you have any serious stomach or gastro problems.
So whilst there isn't a lot of scientific research to back up most of the claims, there is however lots of evidence to support the effect on blood sugar that I have found, and this could be the most useful benefit of apple cider vinegar.
So here's how it is recommended you use it:
Dilute 2 tbsps of apple cider vinegar (preferably organic, with 'the mother') in a large glass of water and drink first thing in the morning, and before a large meal. You can add honey to the mix to make it taste nicer, and get the anti bacterial benefits of the honey too. Be careful not to over-do it in a day, too much acid in your system can cause more harm than good.
Dilute the vinegar with water on a cotton pad and use to cleanse your face (or anywhere you want to treat the skin). Be sure not to use straight undiluted vinegar on your skin; burning!
You can buy apple cider vinegar in most health food shops and some supermarkets these days, but watch you aren't buying the stuff meant for cooking and condiments! In order to get the best benefits, look out for organic unpasteurised raw apple cider vinegar with 'the mother'. I've found Biona's to be a good and affordable option.