Vinegar is French for sour wine. Pretty aptly named don’t you think? Apple cider vinegar, which I guess could be considered sour apple wine, is one of those things I put in the MacGyver category of products. Along with baking soda and coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, like MacGyver, does so much with so little. So next time you have to keep a train from derailing, diffuse a bomb, or perhaps become stranded in France, be sure to have these three little miracle products on hand.
So what is this stuff?
Apple cider vinegar is a simple concoction of crushed apples that have had the liquid squeezed out of them, to which bacteria and yeast are added. This makes alcohol through the fermentation process. It veers off from alcohol through a second fermentation process, in which the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria (acetobacter). And voila, you have fabulous apple cider vinegar! Magnifique!
Not just found in France:
While I have been a bit on the French kick here, that doesn’t mean this stuff is an expensive French import or can only be found in quaint French markets. In fact it is easily found in most grocery stores and the cost is relatively low. Apple cider vinegar can be used for cooking, cleaning, beauty care, and for health benefits. The health benefits are what I am going to address here today.
Top 5…drum roll please!
- Keeps you from wasting money on antacids: While you may think an overproduction of acid is why you, and many others, suffer from heartburn, acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in reality having too little acid in the stomach can result in these problems. So while meds, like antacids and proton pump inhibitors (i.e. omeprazole/Prilosec) relieve the symptoms, they not only fail to address the disease, they can actually exacerbate it by lowering stomach acids levels further. Therefore, bumping up your production of acid by taking apple cider vinegar will help heal your stomach issues.
Other digestive issue:
Gastroparesis (slowed gastric emptying) sufferers have found relief from the uncomfortable symptoms it produces by adding apple cider vinegar to their daily diet.
Eating disorder recovery can be digestively painful. Those on the mend have found that consuming 1-2 tablespoons per day of apple cider vinegar alleviates some of the discomfort of reintroducing food consumption through structured eating plans.
- Being the boss of your blood sugar: To regulate blood sugar levels, whether you are a diabetic or not, is critical to good health and feeling good. When your blood sugar swings out of control it can make you insulin resistance, resulting in many diabetic conditions. Plus, anytime your levels swing high or low, this can cause you to feel pretty awful. We have all felt the “crash” after a sugar laden dessert and all we can think about is sleeping. However, those swings not only make us feel tired, they also make us pretty crabby and can give us some flu-like symptoms. Apple cider vinegar helps to keep our blood sugar levels (and mood) at an even keel, even after a carb heavy meal (which I recommend avoiding the carb heavy meal, vinegar or not).
- Become a Sleeping Beauty: Ever had trouble sleeping? Yeah, silly question huh? Of course you have…we all have. Well that splendid MacGyver-esque vinegar we have been talking about helps in the sleep arena as well. Remember how I mentioned it aids in digestion? Well, this comes into play here. Apple cider vinegar breaks down fatty acids and releases tryptophan (yes, think Thanksgiving turkey). This handy dandy essential amino acid has a neat little habitat of converting to serotonin, which in turn is metabolized into melatonin (this is how 5-HTP works), which helps us sleep. So grab some turkey (or really any animal product or nuts and seeds) and chow down with a dose of apple cider vinegar, and sleep well tonight mes amis!
- Slaying the nutrients: Even if you consume all the right vitamins and minerals, in exactly all the right doses, if your body can’t absorb them, then it doesn’t matter. Nutrients are often not absorbed because they are not released from the food we have eaten or are blocked by inhibitors. When it comes to nutrients like iron (or as we saw before with tryptophan) apple cider vinegar helps the food you consume breakdown and/or release those much needed nutrients. When it comes to things like calcium, absorption can be blocked by oxalates. Apple cider vinegar can break down those oxalates and therefore improve calcium absorption. Plus the magnesium in the vinegar helps the calcium absorb too. As an added bonus, apple cider vinegar offers small doses of potassium too!
- Burn some fat and drop some poundage: As mentioned before this sour little wonder helps regulate blood sugar. Some of this benefit comes from its ability to promote the uptake of glucose in the liver and muscles. This helps glucose from being stored as fat. Some of this is achieved by 5′ AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) which is an enzyme that plays a role in cellular energy homeostasis and is boosted by apple cider vinegar. So very simply put, apple cider vinegar, via AMPK, can help the body use up glucose, burn fat, and boost metabolism. Plus as a side benefit, the vinegar can act as an appetite suppressant.
Beyond the party of 5
There are many other health benefits to consuming apple cider vinegar that I didn’t go into detail on that include:
- Decreasing inflammation
- Reducing joint pain
- Boosting immunity
- Fighting cancer and chronic disease
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease
These (and lots more) are amazing benefits to apple cider vinegar. However, I only went into the Top 5, as I think these relate to the whole assortment of benefits apple cider vinegar offers in one form or another.
What vinegar do I take?
To reap as many health benefits as possible from apple cider vinegar, it’s best to use organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Purchasing organic products will reduce your exposure to herbicides and pesticides. Buying raw and unfiltered will provide you with the beneficial enzymes, minerals, and antioxidants (catechin, gallic acid, caffeic and chlorogenic acids) that can be destroyed during pasteurization of other vinegars. If you are worried about the E-coli factor because the vinegar uses unpasteurized apples, no need to be. Vinegars are too acidic for those guys to survive. Hence the reason vinegar is used as a cleaning product. A good brand to buy is Bragg’s. Or you can always make your own!
For dosing of apple cider vinegar, aim for 1 tablespoon 2-3 times a day. Drink with water as the vinegar taken straight can sometimes cause a bit of discomfort. You can also add it to a fresh green salad or other raw dishes. Just don’t cook it as it may lose some of its health benefits.
As with anything, too much of a good thing can have harmful consequences. So don’t go crazy drinking this stuff. Stick with the dosage recommended above and you will see the benefits without any undue harm.
Take Home Points:
- Buy organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar
- Drink 1 tablespoon 2-3 times a day (with water), and don’t OD
- Take apple cider vinegar to:
- Aid digestion
- Stabilize blood sugar
- Help with sleep
- Boost nutrient intake
- Promote weight loss
There you have it, the Top 5 ways you can be the MacGyver of apple cider vinegar. So grab a quality bottle of the stuff, drink up, be healthy, diffuse a bomb (results may vary), and as the French say, pour ta santé!
Bragg.com. Apple Cider Vinegar FAQ’s. http://bragg.com/products/bragg-organic-apple-cider-vinegar-FAQ.html
Kresser, C. March 29, 2010. ChrisKresser.com. What Everybody Ought To Know (But Doesn’t) About Heartburn & GERD. https://chriskresser.com/what-everybody-ought-to-know-but-doesnt-about-heartburn-gerd/
McCarty, M. April 2014. American Aging Association 2013. AMPK activation—protean potential for boosting healthspan. V: 36(2). Pages: 641-663. doi: 10.1007/s11357-013-9595-y. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4039279/