Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is made by fermenting apples into apple cider then performing a second fermentation in which the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria (acetobacter).
The History of Apple Cider Vinegar Use
In ancient Greece (400 BC) Hippocrates, who is considered the father of modern medicine prescribed apple cider vinegar mixed with honey for coughs and colds among other ailments. During the American Civil War ACV was used to disinfect wounds and speed wound healing.
ACV became very popular in the 1920s and was drunk more than any other fruit juice in the US as it was thought to increase vim and vigour. After this it remained a low key addition to cooking and salad dressings until a self-help book in the 1990s touted ACV as a “Miracle Health System”. Since then, there has been many claims about the health benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar.
Apple Cider Vinegar has been used for centuries now and traditionally has been used to treat throat and sinus infections, skin problems, kidney stones, Diabetes and Obesity.
What do the studies show?
Resent research has shown that ACV is an antimicrobial against E. coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans, common human microbes that can become pathogenic if growth becomes excessive. ACV was found to down regulate inflammatory cytokines and microbial protein expression in these organisms effectively inhibiting their growth. This makes ACV an excellent internal and external antimicrobial agent for the digestive system, as well as for topical application to minor cuts and scrapes.
Apple Cider Vinegar has also been shown to slow gastric emptying in humans.
Apple Cider Vinegar has been taken to promote weight loss for some time. The weight loss is due to at least in part the fact that ACV reduces gastric emptying which can make you feel fuller faster and for longer. In addition this feature reduces the rate at which blood sugar increases after a meal so that there is better glycemic control and a potential reduction in the metabolic disorders that can lead to obesity. This is also beneficial to pre-diabetics and those with type II Diabetes who wish to avoid spikes in blood sugar and may help to improve insulin sensitivity for these people as well.
In animals studies, ACV has been shown to reduce the risk of obesity related atherogenic risk (risk of atherosclerosis) by decreasing serum lipid levels and preventing oxidative stress which results in a protective effect on red blood cells, the kidneys and the liver.
Apple Cider Vinegar also contains malic acid which is known to increase urinary citrate excretion and urinary pH which can help dissolve calcium oxalate stones (kidney stones).
In addition, ACV is also high in potassium, magnesium and other minerals and vitamins beneficial to the human body and, acetic acid which can help the body absorb these important minerals from the food you eat.
These recent and preliminary studies do point to some merit to the claims touted by ACV supporters since ancient times however, further studies are needed to determine exactly how ACV benefits human health.
How to use Apple Cider Vinegar
Begin slowly by adding 1 tsp to water with or without a little honey and drink with a straw (to reduce the risk of tooth enamel erosion). Gradually increase the amount of ACV used to 1-2 tbsp or to tolerance. You can also add ACV to recipes and salad dressings in lieu of other vinegars.
Be sure to consult your physician before using ACV if you are on any medication to control blood sugar.
Since Apple Cider Vinegar contains probiotics, look for organic, raw, unpasteurized ACV (which should have a murky appearance at the bottom) when purchasing to get the maximum health benefits.