Digestion, Diabetes, blood pressure | May 8, 2018 | Author: Naturopath
The word vinegar comes from the French vin aigre, meaning “sour wine”. Vinegar has been used for over 2000 years to flavour and preserve foods, heal wounds, fight infections, and clean surfaces.
In the past few years, apple cider vinegar has been hailed a wonder cure that can ward off bacteria and help you fight diabetes, heart disease, excess weight and much more. But is it really a miracle food? Let’s see what the science says.
As the name implies, apple cider vinegar - or ACV as it’s often called - comes from apples, in a process of fermentation and oxidation of the apple’s natural sugars.
The main component of vinegar is acetic acid – it is the active compound that is responsible for the flavour and odour of the vinegar, and for most of its attributed health benefits.
You may have seen a sediment or ‘murky’ looking ACV. This is the mother - a harmless slime composed of yeast and acetic acid that may develop in stored vinegar that underwent a longer fermentation period. Many people believe that this type of apple cider vinegar provides the most health benefits; however, the health effects of the mother have not been substantiated.
Diluted vinegar has been traditionally used as a natural cleaning agent in household disinfectants, as well as commonly recommended for treating athlete’s foot and head lice. In addition, diluted acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar, has been found to prevent infection and kill bacteria found in burn wounds. Researchers claim that more research is needed to determine if ACV can be used safely and effectively to treat infective wounds.
One study found that vinegar significantly reduced blood pressure in rats. As of now, there is no scientific evidence that vinegar can reduce blood pressure in humans.
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Vinegar contains polyphenols, which are naturally occurring compounds that act as antioxidants and have powerful health promoting properties. Studies show that people who eat more plant foods have reduced risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Laboratory experiments and studies in mice suggest that vinegar may inhibit cancer cells. In humans, one study showed that ingesting vinegar decreased the risk for oesophageal cancer. In contrast, another study linked vinegar with a greater risk for bladder cancer.
To date, only one study has investigated the effects of vinegar on weigh loss. The participants were 155 obese Japanese individuals who consumed a drink containing 15ml vinegar, 30ml vinegar or placebo (zero vinegar) each day for 12 weeks. After three months, those who consumed vinegar experienced modest weight loss and lower triglycerides. In comparison, those who drank no vinegar experienced no changes in their weight or triglyceride levels.
A number of studies in both healthy population and people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes suggest that adding vinegar to your salad as dressing, or ingesting vinegar diluted in water 5 minutes before a meal, can prevent spikes in blood sugar.
Similarly, adding vinegar to sushi rice may decrease the glycaemic index of rice by 20% to 35%.
This value, a number, indicates how rapidly the food will raise the blood sugar - the higher the value, the quicker and higher the rise.
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It is worth noting, however, that these were small studies, and most used various types of vinegar and not specifically apple cider vinegar.
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Adequate stomach acid is required for proper digestion and absorption. It has been claimed that drinking apple cider vinegar before a meal (1-2 tablespoon in a glass of room-temperature water) will increase your stomach acidity. Although this is very popular, there is no evidence to support these claims.
Vinegar has been used as a food ingredient for thousands of years. It is affordable, very low in calories and an easy way to flavour foods. ACV contains healthy antioxidants such as polyphenols and vitamins. As a naturally fermented food, it also contains live bacteria that may improve gut health.
Drinking diluted ACV probably won’t hurt you, but the best way to enjoy it is as part of a healthy meal:
Balla Kohn RDN LDN, J.M., 2015. Is Vinegar an Effective Treatment for Glycemic Control or Weight Loss? Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115, p.1188. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26115563
Halstead, F.D. et al., 2015. The Antibacterial Activity of Acetic Acid against Biofilm-Producing Pathogens of Relevance to Burns Patients L. Leoni, ed. PLOS ONE, 10(9), p.e0136190. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26352256
Johnston, C.S. & Gaas, C.A., 2006. Vinegar: medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect. MedGenMed : Medscape general medicine, 8(2), p.61. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16926800
Kondo, T. et al., 2009. Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects. Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, 73(8), pp.1837–1843. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19661687
Yagnik, D., Serafin, V. & J Shah, A., 2018. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Scientific reports, 8(1), p.1732. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29379012
Scott, A.G., 2016. Vinegar and Diabetes: Dos and Don’ts. Medscape. Available at: https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/862975