Apple Cider Vinegar: the 4-1-1

The new superfood? The new weight loss fix? What is apple cider vinegar and why is everyone all about it?! I get a lot of questions from patients asking “If I drink apple cider vinegar, will it help me lose weight?” I always answer this question on the side of caution, only because it’s been shown to help people lose weight in studies, but isn’t really studied enough to say one or the other that it will do the trick. So if you want to know more about apple cider vinegar (what it is, why it’s useful and how to consume it), read on! I’ll be explaining all that and more to put the rumors to rest!

So first thing’s first; what the heck is apple cider vinegar? Vinegar is made by converting sugars to alcohol with yeast, and then converting the alcohol to acetic acid using bacteria. By bacteria, I mean the good, gut-health inducing bacteria. In addition to the good bacteria, the vinegar that’s made has high phenolic and flavonoid content which helps fight free radicals (lowers cancer risk). Just to show it’s age, apple cider vinegar was used as far back as 400BC as an antibiotic, a healing solution to treat scurvy and pneumonia, upset stomach, and wound healing. It’s got A LOT of health benefits, as long as you use it right!

Speaking of health benefits, why are people all of a sudden consuming apple cider vinegar? Well of course there’s health benefits, but what are they really? The first benefit is that it’s an antioxidant. Antioxidants help with many things, one of them being cancer. Apple cider vinegar contains phytochemicals, polyphenols, flavonoids, and phenolic acids which are all antioxidants. They can have positive affects on diseases such as cancer because they prevent free radical formation (the cancer-causing cells). Not only does apple cider vinegar provide you with great antioxidants, it can help with blood sugar as well.

In previous studies, consuming apple cider vinegar has been shown to lower blood sugar levels after eating because it blocks some of the starch digestion after a meal. Having less starch absorbed into the bloodstream will keep blood sugar levels lower and also improve insulin sensitivity in those with Diabetes. Not only does it help with blood sugar, but it’s also been shown to help with lowering total cholesterol, LDL (bad cholesterol), and your triglyceride levels. So not only can it help with blood sugar stability, but also with heart health as well.

While health is obviously important, a lot of people have been correlating apple cider vinegar to weight loss. I wasn’t sure why, so I did the research to see what the hype was all about. The reason apple cider vinegar has been linked with weight loss is because many people who would drink it daily would start to lose weight. The most common speculation as to why is because consuming it before a meal will promote satiety with meals and increase the acetic acid level in your body (causing you to get fuller quicker).

I have to say this with emphasis: There is NOT enough evidence out there to say that apple cider vinegar will make you lose weight!!

There has only been ONE study done in Japan to test this theory. Participants in this study were split up into two groups; one that would drink apple cider vinegar before each meal and the other group drank water before each meal. The group that was drinking the vinegar did indeed lose 1-3 pounds over the course of the study, but as soon as they stopped the study they gained their weight back. It did seem to help with fat utilization in the body which is why people were losing weight. However, even with this study in place, apple cider vinegar still isn’t the answer to weight loss. Is it beneficial? Absolutely. But it’s not an answer for weight loss without also increasing exercise and eating right in general.

Still interested in trying it out? I encourage you to! As I said, it’s not a weight loss method, but still has many health benefits. Something to consider is you want to make sure you’re getting the right type of apple cider vinegar. There are many forms out there and you want to make sure you’re using the right one. If you haven’t heard already, Bragg’s apple cider vinegar is the most natural and best for you. It contains “the mother” which is a murky, cloudy blob that sits in the bottle. The “mother” is beneficial because it’s made up of strands of proteins, enzymes, probiotics and good bacteria for your gut health. It can also help with immune support and constipation. So when in doubt, always get an apple cider vinegar with “the mother” in it. Otherwise, you won’t be getting all the benefits from it!

So you found the right stuff, but how do you consume it how often? You need to be careful with apple cider vinegar because it’s extremely acidic. If you take a straight shot of it, you can really do damage to your esophagus and intestines. It can also break down the enamel on your teeth and lower potassium levels ultimately affecting bone mineral density. It’s also important to note that if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not recommended to take it only because there is not enough evidence to be deemed safe.

In order to ingest apple cider vinegar without compromising your insides, you always want to dilute it into water. You might have heard that people drink it with water, lemon, and cayenne or make their own cocktail every morning. You can make up whatever fancy cocktail you want, but for every ounce of apple cider vinegar, be sure to dilute it with 8oz water. Try this out 1-2x a day and see how you feel! Again, this may not be something you necessarily “feel” but it’s promoting heart health, blood sugar stability, lowering cancer risk, and satiety with meals which are all bonuses in my book!

As always, consult a doctor if you have any pre-existing medical condition and you’re not sure if this is something you may benefit from. While it may not be the new “superfood”, apple cider vinegar is definitely something that can help us with gut health, heart health, and overall health in general. Is it something I would suggest everyone do immediately? Not necessarily, but I also wouldn’t rule it out. Everyone benefits from things differently. My goal with this blog entry was to provide more information on this topic and hopefully get people more educated about it! I hope you enjoyed and now know more about apple cider vinegar than you did yesterday!