Apple Cider Vinegar Remedies: Do They Work?
What Is Vinegar?
It’s made when bacteria feed on sugars and alcohol in fruit juices, wine, honey, and similar liquids. The result is an acetic acid solution that may have other nutrients, too. Apple cider vinegar starts with juice made from apples. There doesn’t seem to be anything special about its health benefits, compared with other types of vinegar. Perhaps the milder flavor and smell have helped boost its reputation.
In one study, overweight people who drank vinegar (diluted with other liquid) lost weight at a slightly faster rate. And they lost belly fat. But there’s no evidence that lots of vinegar will help you drop lots of pounds, or do it quickly.
Lower Blood Sugar
Vinegar can help someone with diabetes control the amount of glucose in their blood after a meal as well as their A1c, a measure of “average” blood sugar for the past few months. A couple of teaspoons in water or food at mealtime works best. High blood sugar over time can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and blindness.
Vinegar can also help keep insulin levels lower after you eat. Your cells need this hormone to take glucose from your blood to use for energy. But too much insulin released too often can make your body less sensitive to it — a condition called insulin resistance that can lead to type 2 diabetes or make it worse.
Apple cider vinegar — any vinegar, really — will kill some germs because of the acetic acid in it. It works best in your food — to clean up bacteria lingering on your salad leaves, for example. It’s not very good at disinfecting a cut or wound. And because it’s an acid, there’s a chance it could chemically burn delicate skin.
Yep! Tuck a bottle of vinegar into your beach bag. It stops the work of the special jellyfish cells (nematocysts) that deliver the venom — the stuff that makes a sting hurt. When you get home, dunk the wound in hot water. That stops the venom itself from working.
That murky, thicker liquid that collects at the bottom of some vinegars, called the “mother,” is made up of the fermenting bacteria and their harmless waste. Most brands warm vinegar to kill the bacteria before packaging, but mother can develop once air hits the product. Some say the mother gives vinegar more health benefits because the live bacteria act as “probiotics,” but there’s no scientific evidence yet.
Protect Your Cells
Polyphenols are chemical compounds in fruits, vegetables, wine, coffee, and chocolate. They’re antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage linked to cancer and other disease. There’s no reason to think the polyphenols in apple cider vinegar can’t be just as helpful, but we need more studies to be sure.
Curb Your Appetite
When vinegar was served with white bread for breakfast, people said they were more satisfied afterward. But when vinegar was served with cream of wheat, made from a more complex grain that takes longer to digest, it made less of a difference, and the fuller feeling didn’t last very long. Stay tuned on this one.
More Is Not Better
Usually, 1-2 tablespoons a day is plenty to drink. There’s little evidence that more can help, and too much can cause stomach problems, wear away your teeth, and lower potassium levels. It can also affect the way some drugs work, including water pills (diuretics), laxatives, and medicines for heart disease and diabetes.