Many of us - and we say this with a fair amount of certainty - struggle with our weight and / or certain aspects of our health. So whenever we hear of any seemingly simple silver bullet of sorts for weight loss (think lemon water ‘detoxes’ and the like), it can be tempting to fall prey. But giving into media-generated health fads without adequate research may do more harm than good - so it’s always a good idea to do your own groundwork before including that newly christened superfood into your diet.
Apple cider vinegar is one such popular superfood - and in this blog, Chandni Haldurai, our nutrition expert is going to lay out the facts and myths for you, clear as day, so you can make the best choice for your health.
What is apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice through a two-step process. In step 1, the apple juice is fermented into cider as its sugars turn into alcohol. After this, the alcohol in the cider is converted to acetic acid, which is when it becomes apple cider vinegar.
Are benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar for real?
Yes - but to a certain extent. You’ll see what we mean as you read on.
Can apple cider vinegar help in controlling sugar levels/cure diabetes?
Research has shown that a small amount of apple cider vinegar taken at bedtime or during lunch / dinner can be effective in reducing postprandial (during or post lunch/dinner) glucose and insulin levels. Alongside other methods, such as diet and exercise, it can be used as a tool to improve one’s glycemic index.
So to answer the question - no, apple cider vinegar can’t cure diabetes. It cannot be a replacement for requisite medication, dietary changes, and adequate exercise. It only has a small role to play in controlling glucose and insulin levels.
Can apple cider vinegar cure acne?
Several sources on the web cite apple cider vinegar as a cure for skin discoloration and acne. This is possibly because it exhibits anti microbial properties and also has an exfoliating effect on one’s skin. However, there is no conclusive evidence of apple cider vinegar improving one’s skin or addressing skin conditions. In fact, due to its highly acidic nature, it can cause dryness and irritation. We would suggest consulting with a qualified dermatologist before including it in your skincare regimen.
Can apple cider vinegar really kill harmful bacteria?
Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid which can kill certain kinds of bacteria present in salad leaves. However, it does not act as an effective disinfectant for cuts and wounds - and could cause chemical burns in some cases.
Can apple cider vinegar help one lose weight?
Now this is a big one. There are a number of articles that claim apple cider vinegar “burns fat” and can help you drop several pounds in an unreasonably short amount of time.
These claims largely stem from a 2009 study, with175 people who consumed a drink containing 0,1, or 2 tablespoons of vinegar every day. After a three month period, those who consumed vinegar had lost a modest amount of weight, as opposed to those who didn’t consume vinegar.
However, Robert H. Shmerling, MD, Senior Faculty Editor, Harvard Health Publishing, has debunked this study, and several others, in an article where he says that none of these studies focused on apple cider vinegar in particular, and that that most were too short term to produce any compelling evidence of apple cider vinegar as a reliable and long-term means of losing a significant amount of weight.
Some experts suggest that when one consumes small amounts of acetic acid through apple cider vinegar, it activates one’s metabolism, helping the body use fat as a form of energy rather than storing it. Jury’s still out on these claims - so, unfortunately, the truth remains - there’s no short-cut to losing weight.
While consuming apple cider vinegar doesn’t add any calories to your diet, it certainly isn’t a magical ‘fat burning’ concoction. You may consume it in limited quantities (too much can erode your tooth enamel and irritate your esophagus), but don’t expect it to compensate for a high-calorie diet and lack of exercise. Weight loss requires a combination of a calorie-deficit diet and adequate physical activity - which may take longer, but is certainly more effective.
How much apple cider vinegar should I consume?
There are conflicting opinions on how much apple cider vinegar one should ideally consume. But general consensus is that one to two tablespoons per day, diluted in water or tea, is a safe amount.
So should you include apple cider vinegar in your diet? Sure. It goes great in most salad dressings and can be used as a pickling agent to make food more acidic, thereby deactivating its enzymes and killing spoilage-causing bacteria. However, consume it only in moderate amounts and in diluted form - and most importantly - with full awareness that it is not a cure-all for any disease or a remedy for a poor lifestyle. Research on apple cider vinegar is still limited, and until there is complete, science-backed evidence of its benefits, you must consult your doctor or a qualified nutritionist for more information on how much, and when to consume apple cider vinegar.