The marvelous vinegar

Apple cider vinegar – the list of what it can’t help with is probably shorter than the one of the numerous things it can do – it’s a truly marvelous medicine! It has little science to back it up, but there are thousands of years of anecdotal reports claiming it’s many ‘powers’.

Some add it to warm water and lemon juice in the morning as an alkaliser and immune supporter, whilst others use a diluted amount to bathe eye infections. It also has benefits for urinary infections and thrush.

The list seems endless with other areas including:

  • weight loss assistance
  • lowering blood pressure
  • stabilising blood glucose
  • anti-inflammatory
  • slowing aging
  • controlling head lice
  • getting rid of warts
  • fixing up stomach upsets
  • assisting with skin complaints

Oh…and you can use it to clean your kitchen and bathroom.

Not bad for a humble vinegar!

It’s medicinal uses date back to the father of medicine – Hippocrates (approx. 400BC), he is reported to have used it for bacterial infections (a rudimentary antibiotic). And it is said the Egyptians used it for preserving food.

The word ‘vinegar’ comes from the French words ‘vin aigre’, meaning sour wine. Vinegar is often made from grapes but it can be made from any fruits or grains – anything that is fermentable!

In the making of vinegar, the first fermentation occurs when yeasts convert the natural food sugars to alcohol — cider in the case of apple cider vinegar. The second fermentation, acetic acid bacteria (Acetobacter) convert the cider to acetic acid. The bacterial culture grows slowly over weeks or months and produces a cloudy sediment known as ‘the mother’. The mother benefits come from the live culture as well as the acetic and other acids and include antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.

Blood glucose & type 2 diabetes
Several studies have shown vinegar to be useful in lowering the glycaemic response in healthy adults and those with either insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. In one study, 20mL of white vinegar in salad dressing reduced by 30 per cent the glycaemic response to a mixed meal containing 50g of carbohydrate. Even substituting a fresh cucumber with one pickled in vinegar has been shown to have a similar effect.

In 2004, a study published in Diabetes Care found that taking vinegar before meals significantly increased insulin sensitivity and dramatically reduced the insulin and glucose spikes that occur after meals.

Weight loss
Using vinegar for weight loss has been a theory kicking around for years. More recently small studies have been published that give this theory a little more substance.

In a double-blind Japanese study, obese adults were separated into three groups based on similar body weights, body mass indexes (BMI) and waist measurements. Each group drank a 500mL drink containing 30mL, 15mL or no vinegar every day for 12 weeks. All groups consumed a similar number of calories and did the same amount of exercise.

Those in the vinegar-drinking groups had modest weight loss, averaging 1.2kg in the 15mL group and 1.7kg in the 30mL group. They also had lower BMI, visceral fat area, waist measurement and serum triglycerides. The conclusion was that vinegar consumption may reduce obesity.

To further back up the cholesterol theory, some studies have shown that consumption of apple cider vinegar may increase ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) and reduce triglycerides. The Japanese researchers mentioned above, concluded that the acetic acid reduced serum total cholesterol and triglycerides

Blood pressure

An analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study, a very large and long-running study of women’s health, noted a very strong association between consumption of oil-and-vinegar salad dressings 5-6 times a week and a lower cardiovascular risk. However, whether it was the oil or vinegar or the combination of the two, is not clear.

It has been suggested that the potassium in apple cider vinegar balances sodium levels, which may help maintain blood pressure within healthy limits, and that the magnesium in vinegar helps to relax blood vessel walls and thereby lower high blood pressure.

How much to take

As there is little in the way of studies looking at various doses of ACV , there is no recommended dosage. As a general tonic, many people down a tablespoon a day, either mixed in water or in salad dressing. Never take it undiluted as it can damage tooth enamel and burn on its way down, and don’t add it to hot water as it kills the beneficial properties.

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