Apple cider vinegar has been in use since a long time; it’s only that now its benefits are being highlighted and spread virally. There is no doubt to the fact that apple cider vinegar or ACV as it is sometimes known is very beneficial for the overall health. Before moving on to discuss the various aspects of apple cider vinegar, let us first talk about its history and facts.
History & Facts
The presence of apple cider vinegar dates back to even before 5,000 B.C. Apple juice was fermented to form vinegar and there are records to prove this. In the earlier times, apple cider vinegar was used for a variety of purposes including purification of blood, detoxification of the liver, boosting the immunity and cleansing of the nymph nodes.
There are even records that show that apple cider vinegar was used by Hippocrates to cure colds and cough as he mixed it with honey. In the later years, around the 17th century, apple cider vinegar found its use in the medical field as well. It was used in preparing antiseptics and syrups. People even gargled with ACV to kill the oral germs.
In the present times, apple cider vinegar has once again come to the limelight and its advocates are professing the several benefits that it provides. Apple cider vinegar today is not only being used as a potential health-promoting potion but is being used as a disinfectant and household cleaner as well.
How is Apple Cider Vinegar Obtained?
Apple cider vinegar is obtained by fermenting apple cider. ACV formed after fermenting apple cider contains very less sugar and calories than the apple juice. This potion obtained after fermentation is full of health-promoting enzymes(1) and probiotics. You can achieve the benefits of apple cider vinegar by consuming only two tablespoons which contain minimal calories and sugar. In addition, you can use the potion for some other uses like soothing sunburns, cure acid reflux and cold symptoms and remove acne scarring.
Here are the health benefits of apple cider vinegar in detail:
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
- Regulate Blood Sugar Levels
The prime benefits of apple cider vinegar that have been studied intently include regulation of the blood sugar levels. As per the studies, apple cider vinegar is known to decrease the levels of blood sugar by 31 percent on an average. Studies conducted on animals and specifically diabetic rats indicated that their blood sugar levels were significantly reduced when they were given apple cider vinegar for about a month.
Apple cider vinegar is also beneficial for those that develop insulin resistance. This causes diabetes and high sugar levels. With proper consumption of apple cider vinegar, you can achieve better insulin sensitivity(2). As must be known, the hormone that transports sugar which is used as fuel by the tissues is insulin and when the body develops resistance against it, the sugar level in the blood rises causing diabetes. Apple cider vinegar in this respect provides relief as it increases the sensitivity of insulin and stimulates it to carry out its functions properly. In fact, studies have shown that ingestion of vinegar has helped in improving the insulin sensitivity by nearly 34 percent in patients that suffered from insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes(3).
The ideal way to consume apple cider vinegar to lower the blood sugar levels is by taking one or two tablespoons in 8 ounces of water. This potion must be consumed before meals for maximum benefits. During the period when you are taking apple cider vinegar for controlling blood sugar levels, you must also increase fiber and protein consumption while lowering the carbohydrate intake. You must also engage in regular physical activity to ensure that the lower blood sugar levels remain low.
- Helps in Weight Loss
Another of the benefits of apple cider vinegar is that it enhances weight loss. Fitness experts and nutritionists are praising the contribution of apple cider vinegar in helping you drop your weight quickly. As per the studies conducted on apple cider vinegar’s efficacy in reducing weight, it was found that it helped in reducing the weight by nearly 4 pounds when took for nearly 12 weeks. The amount of apple cider vinegar consumed during this time was two tablespoons per day with no other changes in the lifestyle or diet.
It is also seen that apple cider vinegar helps in increasing satiety or fullness which reduces food intake and helps in reducing weight. When you consume apple cider vinegar daily, it helps in decreasing the daily calorie intake by nearly 275 calories.
However, you must understand that apple cider vinegar aids in weight loss and should not be considered a shortcut to losing weight. If you are only drinking apple cider vinegar and not making any changes to your diet or lifestyle, you are not going to achieve the results as desired. Therefore, it is important that you follow an active lifestyle and follow a good and healthy eating pattern.
- Helps in Lowering Cholesterol
When there is increased cholesterol in the body, it leads to blocking of the arteries. This leads to pressure on the heart and the blood as it has to find its way through these narrower arteries. Continuously high blood pressure takes a toll on the heart. If you want to maintain good heart health, you must consume apple cider vinegar. You can check the high levels of cholesterol by consuming apple cider vinegar.
A study conducted on rats showed that apple cider vinegar promotes the formation of HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol while lowering bad or LDL cholesterol(4) in the body. You can also reduce the cholesterol in your body by minimizing the consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar and including healthy dishes in your diet.
- Improves Skin Health
An effective health benefit of apple cider vinegar is in treating acne. The development of acne is due to the presence of certain strains of bacteria in the body and particularly the face. Vinegar has antibacterial properties that help in reducing the effect of harmful bacteria.
Apple cider vinegar is known to have components like citric acid, acetic acid, succinic acid and lactic acid all of which help in controlling the growth of the specific strain of bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes which cause acne. The best part is that these very components in apple cider vinegar also help in reducing scars caused by acne. When the scars are treated with lactic acid for a period of at least three months, there is marked improvement in the texture, appearance and pigmentation of the treated skin. The scars too get lighten during the treatment.
Some other home remedies that you can try for treating acne include using toners and healing masks. In addition, you must keep the skin well moisturized to keep it free from acne.
- Reduces Blood Pressure
As must be known, high blood pressure is the primary reason for heart diseases. As the arteries get narrow due to the deposit of cholesterol in them, there is increased blood pressure and the heart has to work harder to pump the blood. This causes the weakening and deterioration of the heart muscles(5), which in course of time cause heart attacks and other heart-related problems.
In this regard, apple cider vinegar proves to be quite helpful as it reduces the levels of blood pressure and eases the burden on the heart. Studies on laboratory rats have proved that acetic acid, which is the vinegar’s main components, reduces blood pressure. In one of the other animal studies, it was seen that the actions of the main enzymes that led to the raising of the blood sugar were effectively blocked by vinegar.
In addition to consuming apple cider vinegar to lowering blood pressure, you can include potassium and magnesium in your diet. You can increase your fiber intake and switch over to whole foods instead of taking processed and saltier foods.
- Relieves Acid Reflux Symptoms
Many people suffer from the problem of GERD or gastro oesophagal reflux disease. This is a condition that is characterized by the backflow of the acid from the stomach to the oesophagus causing problems like nausea, belching and heartburn.
It has been seen that people that have lower levels of acid in the stomach usually suffer from the problem of acid reflux. Therefore, having apple cider vinegar proves to be helpful as it introduces more acid into the stomach and the symptoms of acid reflux are eased.
The best way to avoid the problem of acid reflux is by drinking a glass of water that has two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in it, before the meals. Additionally, you should bring certain changes to your diet and include healthy fats, vegetables and fermented foods to ease the symptoms of acid reflux.
Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar
Besides having a number of health benefits, apple cider vinegar is very useful in some other ways as well. Here are some other uses of apple cider vinegar.
- Soothes Sun Burns
Having a dry and sun-burnt skin can be very painful. Apple cider vinegar can be very helpful in this regard as it provides a natural remedy for the problem. You can make a mixture of 1/ 4 cup coconut oil and a cup of apple cider vinegar and add some drops of lavender oil to this. You can then add this potion to lukewarm bathing water and soak the sunburnt area to get relief.
- Boosts Gut Health
If you want to improve your gut health, then you must include apple cider vinegar in your diet. However, you must choose the organic and raw variant of the vinegar to get the desired benefits. This will introduce good bacteria(6) to your system and improve your digestive system and offer other benefits like better immunity and improved ability to absorb and digest nutrients. You can choose to have one to two tablespoons of the vinegar daily to get the benefits. Along with this, you can include fermented foods like kefir or kombucha to get the best results.
- Fights Fungus
Apple cider vinegar is very helpful in fighting and curing fungal infections(7) such as jock itch, toenail fungus, yeast infections and athlete’s foot. The vinegar is used by way of an antifungal spray. When combined with other ingredients that fight fungus, apple cider vinegar provides relief quickly and reduces symptoms.
- Regulates Blood Sugar
As mentioned earlier, apple cider vinegar helps in regulating the blood sugar levels in the body. It also helps in increasing the insulin sensitivity in the body which helps in better management of sugar levels. You can mix one to two tablespoons of the vinegar in a cup of water and drink this water before meals. Regular intake of the water along with additional precautions will keep the blood sugar levels controlled.
- Better Skin Health
Those suffering from acne and other skin problems can find relief by consuming apple cider vinegar. The vinegar has antibacterial properties that heal the skin problems. It also has the ability to kill certain strains of bacteria that cause acne and other skin problems. You can also use the apple cider vinegar toner to improve skin health and reduce scarring.
- Treats Warts
In addition to improving the skin health, apple cider vinegar is known to treat warts. You can soak a cotton ball in the vinegar and put this cotton ball directly on the wart and cover it with a bandage for the night. The wart might not be removed in the first attempt. So you can try this remedy few times before the wart finally falls off.
- Enhances circulation
Patients suffering from varicose veins can find some relief from the symptoms by using apple cider vinegar. You can combine vinegar with witch hazel and use the mixture to scrub the area in a circular motion. This will not only improve the circulation but will also alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins.
- Heals Poison Ivy Rash
Rashes caused by poison ivy can be easily treated by using apple cider vinegar. The itch caused by poison ivy can be soothed by the natural apple cider vinegar as it contains potassium. The swelling that is caused by poison ivy gets reduced when the vinegar is directly applied to the area. The treatment must be repeated a few times daily until the rash goes away completely.
- Kills Fleas and Bugs
Pets like cats and dogs are often plagued by pesky bugs and fleas. Instead of using the chemical based flea killers, you can make your own homemade remedy to provide relief to your pets. Mix equal parts of apple cider vinegar with water and put this mixture in the spray bottle. Application of this mixture on the fur of the animals once a day will help in getting rid of the fleas. The spray can also use by humans to keep off bugs and insects from your skin.
- Relief from seasonal allergies
Seasonal allergies can be easily kept at bay by consuming apple cider vinegar. The vinegar is known to contain healthy bacteria which promotes immunity and helps in healthy lymphatic draining. This keeps the allergies and sniffles away. You can dilute the vinegar in water and consume the mixture as soon as feel that the allergies are catching up.
- Natural Deodorant
If you have a strong body odor and want to get rid of it, then you can try apple cider vinegar. Having powerful antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar proves to be a natural deodorant. The armpits are the spot that breed bacteria and it is this area that exudes body odor. You can dab a few drops of apple cider vinegar to the armpits to neutralize the body odor.
- Keep the Hair Shining
If you have dry and dull hair and you want to make your hair shiny and bright, you can use apple cider vinegar. After shampooing your hair, you can use the vinegar to rinse your hair. This will make your hair smell great, shiny and lustrous and even prevent them from dryness.
- Balances your pH
If you want to optimize your health and keep the pH of the body balanced, you can try apple cider vinegar. Although the primary component of the vinegar is acetic acid, it provides an alkalizing effect(10). Therefore there is overall health optimization.
- Whitens Teeth
Acting as a natural teeth whitener, apple cider vinegar can brighten your smile. You must use small quantities of the vinegar to rub over the teeth and rinse your mouth. This will cleanse the teeth and make you feel fresh. However, you must avoid overdoing this as the vinegar can erode the enamel.
- Aids in Detoxification
Detoxification of the body means draining away of all the toxic elements from the body. Apple cider vinegar aids in detoxification in the sense that it stimulates lymphatic drainage(9), balance the pH and improves the circulation in the body. You can put one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in water and have this water a few times during the day.
Types of Apple Cider Vinegar
When you are talking about apple cider vinegar, it could be raw or organic or even unfiltered. So how do you know which of these are you using and whether they are even different or not? In fact, each of these variants of apple cider vinegar has some differences amongst them and you must know these differences to know which one would be beneficial for you.
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar
Organic apple cider vinegar is one that is certified to be organic and this does not contain any synthetic additives. The organic vinegar does not contain any genetically modified organisms thereby proving to be very good for your health.
Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar that is unprocessed and unheated is called raw apple cider vinegar. In such vinegar, the original ingredients or the “mother” is still intact. The actual ingredients or mother which includes beneficial bacteria, enzymes and proteins are sometimes removed when the vinegar is processed.
Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
The unfiltered variant of apple cider vinegar has the natural ingredients or the mother intact in it. When the vinegar is filtered, it removes the mother and the sediment, if any, leaving a clear vinegar.
Apple Cider vs. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is different from apple cider but many people use the terms interchangeably. You should know that there is a difference between the two and the terms do not talk about the same product.
When fresh apples are pressed, apple cider is obtained. This is similar to apple juice but the processing and filtering of both the potions is different.
Apple cider vinegar is made from apple cider. Bacteria and yeast are used to ferment apple cider. The sugars in the apple cider turn into alcohol and then it is again fermented to convert the alcohol into acetic acid.
It is the second fermentation process that provides the apple cider vinegar its goodness and ability to provide health benefits. All the benefits provided by apple cider vinegar such as lowering of the blood sugar, keeping of the cholesterol levels low and prevention of acid reflux are due to this fermentation process.
Precautions in using Apple Cider Vinegar
There is no denying the fact that apple cider vinegar is very healthy and safe. However, you must consume it in moderation as it can have some negative effects on the health if consumed in large amounts. The side effects of apple cider vinegar include burning of the skin or throat, erosion of the tooth enamel and decreased levels of potassium(8) in the body.
It is always recommended that you must dilute apple cider vinegar with water and not drink it undiluted. In addition, you must first consume small quantities of the apple cider vinegar and slowly increase your dose as per your tolerance. In case you are consuming some medicines for blood sugar and blood pressure, you must consult your doctor before consuming apple cider vinegar. This is to prevent any incidents of hypoglycemia as the combined effect of the medicines and apple cider vinegar could lower the blood sugar levels.
It should be remembered that apple cider vinegar is not a quick fix method of achieving certain health benefits. It can be consumed in combination with other natural methods, healthy diet and lifestyle to achieve the desired results. This way you can achieve overall health benefits.