Apple cider vinegar has long been touted as a cure all for a number of different ailments – it is easily produced with apples (or apple scraps), water, sugar and time.
You may have heard of good quality apple cider vinegar containing the ‘mother’. This is the strands or sediment you might see in the bottle that is made up of beneficial proteins, enzymes and bacteria that give the liquid a murky look. The main compound of apple cider vinegar is acetic acid, which has a number of health benefits.
Lowering blood pressure
Regularly taking apple cider vinegar can result in lower blood pressure. It is thought that apple cider vinegar works by reducing an enzyme present in the body called renin. Renin is responsible for regulating the body’s water and blood pressure levels and therefore lowering blood pressure. Acetic acid can also help with nutrient absorption, particularly calcium which also helps to lower blood pressure.
Prevents acid reflux and heartburn
Generally, people that suffer from acid reflux actually have stomach acid with a higher pH than necessary (i.e. it is not acidic enough), so drinking apple cider vinegar can help increase this acidity and therefore the digestion of food, preventing the awful symptoms of heartburn. Medications such as omeprazole may soothe symptoms, but are actually exacerbating the root cause by reducing acidity in the stomach.
Managing blood sugar
The acetic acid present in apple cider vinegar improves insulin sensitivity, significantly lowering blood sugar levels. It can be used safely by people with diabetes, pre-diabetes (metabolic syndrome) or those that just want to manage their blood sugar levels for other reasons.
Acetic acid helps to stop body fat accumulation and liver lipids, effectively changing the body’s response to how fats and lipids are processed. It also significantly improves digestion and can help with appetite management.
Regularly taking apple cider vinegar helps to increase HDL (high density lipoprotein, or ‘good’ cholesterol) while lowering LDL (low density lipoprotein, or ‘bad’ cholesterol) and triglycerides because it contains a strong antioxidant that helps to break these lipids down.
Apple cider vinegar can promote healthy liver and lymph function, therefore helping your body to detoxify and process excess toxins.
Apple cider vinegar is best taken prior to meals, especially breakfast. When taking liquid apple cider vinegar, it is important to mix this with water, as straight vinegar can damage the enamel on your teeth. Ideally, a dose of between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon, mixed into a glass of water should be taken a minimum of once daily. If you find it too strong, start with a lower dose and add a touch of honey for sweetness, however make sure that you don’t use hot water, or this will kill a lot of the beneficial bacteria. A much easier option is to take apple cider vinegar capsules, or even use apple cider vinegar to make delicious salad dressings, which would be another way to incorporate it into your daily diet.
If you suffer from stomach ulcers or oesophageal lesions, it is best to avoid additional vinegar in your diet as this may exacerbate the symptoms.