Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Apple Cider Vinegar: Is It All Hype?

Many of the claims about apple cider vinegar are hyped up. But there is a nugget – or core – of truth to some of them. But if you’re expecting apple cider vinegar to miraculously melt away the pounds or cure your diabetes, you will be disappointed. So far, there is no evidence that apple cider vinegar helps with digestion, balances your pH (which your body does on its own anyway), or reduces heartburn. In fact, some studies have shown that it can worsen heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.

However, it might help a little bit with blood sugar control and weight loss.  Let’s look at what the studies show:
  • A few very small studies have shown that in people without diabetes or with pre-diabetes have shown some benefit. Drinking ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 1 ½ ounces of water with a meal had lower blood sugar after the meal than people who drank the placebo drink.
  • Apple cider vinegar studies in people who have type 2 diabetes have been mixed. One study showed a slightly lower blood sugar level in the morning after drinking apple cider vinegar with a snack before bed.
  • There have been two pretty good studies showing that drinking apple cider vinegar might help modestly with weight loss. The biggest study was done in Japan. Men and women who drank 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar diluted in a cup of water twice a day after breakfast and dinner lost a little over 4 pounds over 3 month compared to no weight loss in the placebo group.
So while the benefits of using apple cider vinegar aren’t huge – who wouldn’t want a few extra pounds of weight loss just from drinking some in water? There can be some risks. If you don’t dilute it or you drink too much, it can damage the esophagus (the food pipe) or cause heartburn. So be sure to follow these tips:
Tips on Using Apple Cider Vinegar Safely: 

·         Don’t Buy Apple Cider Vinegar Supplements: All of the studies with apple cider vinegar have used apple cider vinegar in liquid form. It’s the stuff you can get in the grocery store for a little over a dollar for a bottle. Apple cider vinegar pills don’t have any studies backing them up and they vary widely in the actual amount of acetic acid they state they have. Don’t waste your money on them.

·         Buy Liquid Apple Cider Vinegar in the Grocery Store: Organic vinegar with “the mother” still in them (that’s the stringy clump of fermented yeast and bacteria and cellulose that ferments the apple cider) are more expensive. We don’t know if they are better, so for right now, don’t feel like you have to spend the money on them. The cheap fermented regular brands may work just as well!

·         Dilute the Vinegar! Don’t drink it straight up or you could damage your food pipe or erode your tooth enamel.

     Take the Right Dose: For blood sugar control, try ½ tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 1 ½ ounces of water with meals. For weight loss, take 1 tablespoon diluted in a cup of water after breakfast and dinner. 

So, give it a try if you're working on weight loss or controlling your blood sugar. But also do all of the other things that we know have a bigger impact on these health challenges - like eating healthfully, not eating too much, and exercising! 

Beth Kitchin PhD, RDN
Assistant Professor Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham


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