Could Apple Cider Vinegar Be a Cure-All?

In recent years, apple cider vinegar has gained recognition as having a wealth of health benefits. However, is this recognition founded? At base, apple cider vinegar is just apple juice with yeast added to it. This live yeast feeds on the sugar in the apple juice, fermenting it and turning the sugar into alcohol. Then bacteria turn the alcohol into acetic acid, which is what gives apple cider vinegar its distinctly vinegary smell. This fermentation process also reduces the high concentration of sugar within the apple juice, making it much healthier. But it is not just the reduced amount of sugar in apple cider vinegar that gives it its health benefits; the fermentation process also adds a whole host of other healthy byproducts.

Photo by Daniel Sarché

The fermentation of apple juice creates a vast array of probiotics, which contribute to our gut microbiome, aiding gut health. Recently, scientific inquiries into the relationship between our gut microbiome and our health have demonstrated that it can be a major contributor to the overall health of our bodies. One case by Nega Alang and Colleen Kelly, “Weight Gain After Fechl Microbiota Transplantation,” documents a lean woman with a healthy exercise routine and diet who received a gut bacteria transplant from an obese woman. The lean woman, with the microbiome of the obese woman, suddenly became obese as well, even though she stuck to her same diet and exercise routine. This finding demonstrates the importance of a healthy gut microbiome—in this case, apple cider vinegar may lend a hand.

The combination of healthy probiotics and acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has been shown to have some amazing positive effects. One study out of the University of Milan in Italy found that vinegar consumption decreased blood sugar levels by an average of 31 percent after eating white bread. Moreover, when diabetic rats were given apple cider vinegar for four weeks at the Ahvaz Jundishapour University of Medical Sciences, they found a significant increase in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and a significant decrease in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. It is a common myth that cholesterol is bad for you; cholesterol is necessary for your body to function normally. In this animal study, apple cider vinegar was shown to increase levels of the good cholesterol, HDL, and reduce bad LDL cholesterol. LDL cholesterol is harmful because the low density makes it more likely for the cholesterol to get caught inside an artery and eventually lead to a blood clot, whereas HDL cholesterol’s high density makes it much harder for this to happen.

Apple cider vinegar has more benefits than just helping your body maintain healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels; it is also great for weight loss. One Japanese study in 2009 from Biosci Biotechnol Biochem found that after 12 weeks of drinking 15 or 30 milliliters of the vinegar every day, “body weight, BMI, visceral fat area, waist circumference, and serum triglyceride levels were significantly lower in both vinegar intake groups than in the placebo group.” Why did this happen? Apart from the benefits of acetic acid on insulin resistance and cholesterol, apple cider vinegar has also been shown to increase satiety. One 2005 study at Lund University in Sweden found “there was an inverse dose-response relation between the level of acetic acid and glucose and insulin responses, and a linear dose-response relation between acetic acid and satiety rating.”

It is incredible how an often-overlooked food item such as apple cider vinegar can have such a profound effect on one’s health. And the best part is, it tastes great! Apple cider vinegar could be a positive addition to your diet. Give it a try, and your body may thank you.

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