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Apple Cider Vinegar: Myths and Facts About Benefits and Vinegar Basics Vinegar is an acetic acid solution that results from a fermentation process when yeast and bacteria are added to any number of foods and beverages that contain carbohydrates including wine, apples, pears, berries, melons, honey, beer, molasses, sorghum, coconut, beer, potatoes, maple syrup, grains, whey, beets, and malt. Yeast is first added to these foods or beverages, and the microorganisms turn the sugar in them into alcohol. The next step in the process involves the addition of a bacterium called Acetobacter, which converts alcohol to acetic acid. Many people like the idea of using all-natural, non-toxic apple cider vinegar as a home remedy for various ailments because it is inexpensive and generally considered safe when used appropriately. Vinegar has proven health benefits for some conditions, but it is ineffective for others. It is an ancient remedy. Hippocrates used vinegar to fight infections, treat wounds, and help alleviate coughs. It Can Help You Lose Weight Apple cider vinegar (ACV) can help you lose a little weight. In a study of overweight adults, those who drank 1 or 2 tablespoons of vinegar diluted in a beverage lost weight more quickly compared those who did not drink vinegar. They also reduced belly fat. But the effects were modest. If your goal is weight loss, drinking a couple of tablespoons of vinegar diluted in warm water may help nudge you in the right direction. But remember, the cornerstones of any effective weight loss plan are to eat a reduced calorie diet and to increase your level of physical activity. ACV Lowers Blood Sugar Apple cider vinegar has been proven to help people who have diabetes improve blood sugar levels after a meal, and it improves Hemoglobin A1c level, a measure of blood sugar control for the past several months. ACV is said to have an antiglycemic effect. Chronically high blood sugar damages tissues and increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and blindness. Have a couple of teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in warm water at mealtimes or use it to make salad dressing to help keep your blood sugar within a healthy range. Keep Insulin in Check Results of studies suggest that vinegar helps reduce insulin levels after you have eaten. Insulin is the hormone the body uses to move sugar from the bloodstream into cells where it is used for energy. Insulin levels that are too high are dangerous because a condition called insulin resistance may result. This condition makes your body less sensitive to insulin. This, in turn, may lead to the development of type 2 diabetes or if you already have diabetes, it may make the condition worse. If you are insulin-resistant and have either type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, ask your doctor if you can safely add vinegar to your regimen without side effects. Helps with your digestion system As I already mentioned, apple cider vinegar improves digestion. Drinking apple cider vinegar for digestion can… • get rid of heartburn; • reduce bloating; • improve digestion overall. Let me just say that discomfort and pain are not normal. When we experience pain and discomfort after a meal, we should listen to our bodies and realize that something is not exactly right. Maybe we ate too much or maybe our digestive system doesn’t work properly. Proper digestion means proper acid levels in the stomach so the nutrients in our food can be absorbed. When there’s not enough acid, food is not properly broken down and the nutrients are not assimilated which can lead to digestive issues like the ones I mentioned. Or more serious ones. Drinking apple cider vinegar for digestion means increasing acid production. And that leads to proper digestion. Simple, right? Vinegar Kills Some Germs Apple cider vinegar does have some antiseptic properties. It may help kill bacteria on produce. Salad dressings containing vinegar may have some ability to kill E. coli, salmonella, and other microorganisms that are on produce. Vinegar is not effective against all microorganisms though, so wash your produce thoroughly before eating. And do not try to use apple cider vinegar to disinfect a cut or a wound because the acid can burn skin. ACV and Your Teeth Vinegar does whiten and brighten teeth, but at a price. Vinegar is acidic (low pH level) so it erodes enamel, the hard outer layer of teeth. Since vinegar softens teeth, wait at least 30 minutes after consuming or drinking vinegar before you brush your teeth. If your smile is more yellow than you would like, use a whitening toothpaste. Look for over-the-counter products approved by the American Dental Association. If you need stronger treatments, see your dentist, who can recommend professional treatments to make your smile whiter. Apple Cider Vinegar hair rinse Ideal as a treatment for dry and dull hair, Apple Cider Vinegar can help to restore shine and bounce to each strand as well as encourage healthy hair growth. Dilute the ACV with water and run through hair from roots to ends in between shampooing and conditioning. Be sure to rinse well! A Boon to Gut Health Apple cider vinegar is a fermented product that contains some probiotic organisms like Lactobacillus. These microorganisms are visible in ACV as the "mother." This stringy, cloudy material is made of fermenting bacteria and their harmless byproducts. Apple cider vinegar must remain unpasteurized for these microorganisms to survive. In addition to containing some helpful probiotic microorganisms, apple cider vinegar also contains some prebiotic pectin, a type of soluble fiber found in fruits and vegetables. Beneficial bacteria that reside in your gut feast on pectin, so ACV may encourage a healthy gut microbiome. Raw honey is also a prebiotic food that may promote healthy gut flora. An Antioxidant Boost Apple cider vinegar contains antioxidants called polyphenols that fight damaging free radicals in the body. This free radical damage plays a role in cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many other conditions. Anti-inflammatory polyphenols are found in apple cider vinegar, fruits, vegetables, coffee, wine, and chocolate. While researchers are certain that apple cider vinegar contains polyphenols including galic acid, catechins, ferulic acid, caffeic acid, and others, it is not known if ingesting ACV provides significant antioxidant protection that may help prevent disease. More studies are needed to determine the effect of polyphenols in ACV on disease risk. An elixir made from apple cider vinegar, called switchel, may help ease pain and inflammation. ACV May Help Control Appetite In some studies, people who ate white bread or a bagel and orange juice along with vinegar for breakfast felt more satisfied after the meal compared to those who ate these foods without vinegar. People who consumed vinegar also had reduced post meal blood sugar levels compared to those who did not consume vinegar with breakfast. Researchers have yet to determine how vinegar exerts its anti-glycemic effects. Vinegar does not appear to slow stomach emptying, which was one proposed mechanism. At any rate, if you are going to eat something high-carb, have a little vinegar with your meal to help you feel full and keep blood sugar levels steady. Reduced Inflammation Some people suggest taking apple cider vinegar as a treatment to manage symptoms in inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), multiple sclerosis (MS), and ankylosing spondylitis (AS). One explanation is that the vinegar may reduce inflammation and lessen symptoms. However, there are no studies that directly explore ACV as a therapy for RA, MS, or AS. Where ACV may be useful is for possible relief from some gastrointestinal symptoms, which may occur in people with these health conditions. Taking vinegar may also help improve gut bacteria, which may affect inflammation, but research needs to be done to explore this possibility. Talk to your doctor if you have one of these conditions before trying ACV.