Apple cider vinegar has long been a staple found towards the back of your condiment cupboard. It can be used in household tasks and cooking, more recently it has become known for its health benefits.
Vinegars are well known for their sharp taste and preserving properties, but cider vinegar has now been scientifically linked to benefits such as weight loss, gut health and even lowering blood sugar and cholesterol.
However, it is also an acid and used incorrectly can be damaging to skin, teeth and general health. Let me take you through the benefits and show you some easy ways to reduce the side effects and enjoy its benefits worry free.
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made from apple juice in a two step process. First, yeast and the sugar, from the juice, is used to create alcohol. Then bacteria are added to break down the alcohol and create the acidic vinegar.
The unfiltered product contains a cloudy substance called ‘mother’. It is believed that this could be what brings the benefits from the vinegar. It contains a range of enzymes, proteins and bacteria.
You will probably have heard of apple cider vinegar used as a culinary ingredient or even as a cleaning product. It is a fresh tasting dressing as well as a great pairing with pork and even a great way give an extra tang to vegan recipes.
Why should I take it?
It lowers blood sugar
Many studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can improve the response and sensitivity of insulin supporting it to quickly reduce blood sugar levels. Taking it in the evening can reduce your fasting blood sugar levels lowering them by up to 4%. A high carb meal will usual leave your blood sugar levels at a peak but a dose of apple cider vinegar before the meal can reduce them by 30%.
High blood sugar can be caused by type 2 diabetes, but it can also be as a result of your diet or even aging. If you’ve already been prescribed medicine for your blood sugar levels speak to your doctor before using vinegar.
It could help you lose weight
Apple cider vinegar itself is only 3 calories per spoonful so is a light addition to your routine or meal. The addition of the vinegar to your diet may reduce your bodies uptake of calories and promote a full feeling earlier on. This has been found to reduce weight when used regularly over a period of a few months.
When making any changes to your diet the best results come when it is administered alongside a healthy balanced diet.
It can boost your heart health
Animal studies have given a strong indication that apple cider vinegar can improve heart health by reducing cholesterol and triglycerides. Rat studies have also yielded results indicating that there may also be a link to lower blood pressure. The evidence so far is inconclusive but indicates that there is a correlation between apple cider vinegar and the improvement of these symptoms.
It could improve your digestion
The cloudy ‘mother’ contains healthy bacteria which helps your gut to work properly. This makes it gut friendly allowing you to digest food effectively. It may also reduce other gastrointestinal problems by neutralises stomach acid and its antibacterial properties can fight harmful bacteria.
It could boost your immune system
The healthy bacteria found in raw apple cider vinegar may also play a role in the recovery from illness. They act as a probiotic which have been found to boost the immune system. It is particularly good for cold recovery and can thin out throat mucus. It is also rich in vitamin c, antioxidants and potassium.
The side effects and how to avoid them
The problem-Vinegar taken regularly can slowly break down the enamel in your teeth and cause long term damage.
Solution 1- If you choose to take it regularly, dilute it with water. Add one or two tablespoons to a glass of water and drink on an empty stomach.
Solution 2- Combine it with other foods or use it in your cooking.
The problem- Even though it contains a small amount of potassium, apple cider vinegar can reduce the amount in your body.
Solution 1- Introduce high potassium foods to your diet. Use this handy nutrient search to find the potassium value of your favourite foods.
Solution 2- If you are taking regular medication, check with your doctor. Some medications also reduce potassium levels leaving you at risk of potassium deficiency (hypokalemia). If you already have low potassium it is not a good idea to start a high vinegar diet.
Blood sugar changes
The problem- Apple cider vinegar has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels which can be great. However, if you already suffer from unstable or low blood sugar or are already on medication a high vinegar diet could be a be a risk.
Solution 1- Speak to your doctor or dietician to construct a diet plan that will minimise blood sugar drops.
Solution 2- Talk to your doctor about any medication that you are on or that you might need. Talk to them about possible interactions.
How to take it
Start of with small amounts of less than a teaspoon (5ml) a day. Over time slowly increase it to an amount that you feel comfortable with. Don’t exceed two tablespoons (30ml) a day.
In your cooking– A great way to take apple cider vinegar is in your food. Mix it into salad dressings or add it to dishes in small amounts after the cooking process.
– Adding some to a large glass of water first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day. Try drinking it before you clean your teeth and then you will be able to reduce the risk to your tooth enamel.
Used in combination with a healthy balanced diet, apple cider vinegar has the potential to bring many benefits. It is a worth while addition with a unique flavour that will make it easy to add to your favourite dishes.
To get a vinegar that contains the mother find organic unfiltered brands. This will give you a full range of probiotics and nutrients at only 3 calories per teaspoon.