Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of those ingredients highly praised on the internet, almost as a magical substance that is supposed to provide endless health benefits. Well, let’s put our myth-busting glasses on and see the evidence of what apple cider vinegar really is!
ACV is made from apples by the process of fermentation – sugar from apples is exposed to yeast which turns it into alcohol (anyone fans of cider?) Fermentation continues by adding bacteria, which actually eats all the alcohol and turns it into the vinegar; a brown-ish murky liquid containing acetic acid and tiny amount of some micronutrients.
Ever read this recipe? Mix 1 teaspoon of ACV in water with cinnamon, honey, ginger, cayenne pepper – drink this formula 3 times per day and it will remove all toxins from your body and leaves you full of energy!
Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you but there is no proof that any drink could do that for you. The good thing though is, that there is absolutely no need for it. Our bodies are equipped with powerful organs (kidneys and liver) which take care of any toxins and waste products – no detox elixirs needed. Besides, consuming large amounts of such acidic drink may cause negative side effects, including tooth enamel erosion or upset stomach.
An overwhelming number of articles from health “gurus” and celebrities swear on ACV as a magic bullet for weight loss. Including few spoons of it into your diet may sound like something easy you would give a try, but there is no significant evidence that ACV aids weight loss.
The popular claims that ACV boosts metabolism and burns body fat are based on few studies in rats and rabbits. After being force-fed with the vinegar for a month, these animals decreased their food intake and ultimately lost weight. Similarly, in a small human study, observed weight loss was explained by decreased appetite – well, who would not lose appetite when swallowing vinegar right before their meal? I certainly would!
If this did not change your mind, understand that the actual weight loss was very small, less than 2 kilos in three months, and already mentioned, prolonged consumption of vinegar is not sustainable and potentially harmful.
Diabetes is characterised by high blood sugar levels caused by ineffectiveness of hormone insulin. It is a serious condition usually managed by medication and well-balanced diet, and it is not advised to rely on “natural remedies” such as ACV.
There is a handful of short-term studies showing that consuming ACV can help increase insulin sensitivity and thus lower blood sugar levels. However, these trials involved mostly healthy people who were eating high-carbohydrate meals. Similarly, as with the weight loss trials, you would have to consume vinegar regularly before your meals and there are no studies to tell what would happen if you consumed larger quantities of vinegar for more than few days.
It is important that you do not replace your medication with vinegar and that you speak with your doctor if you intend to regularly consume vinegar alongside your medication, as it could interfere with the treatment and make diabetes control more difficult.
Another popular belief is that apple cider vinegar can rejuvenate the skin and help with acne, dry skin or eczema. Considering its antibacterial properties, treating the skin with ACV could, in theory, prevent infections and bacteria by keeping the skin clear. However, such use was shown not only ineffective, but often dangerous, with several cases of burned or irritated skin! If you have a damaged skin or other condition, please avoid using remedies such as vinegar and see a qualified dermatologist.
You may have heard about ACV being a natural all-purpose cleaner. This is true, as the acetic acid can kill harmful bacteria and other pathogens. ACV has a long history of use as a disinfectant, as well as natural preservative, preventing food from being spoiled by bacteria like E. coli.
Apple Cider Vinegar is a great substance with unique properties, but it is no magic potion; it won’t solve your problems, neither will it prevent or treat medical conditions. Remember that consuming it in large quantities may come with side effects and interact with medication.
The best way to incorporate Apple Cider Vinegar into your diet is to use it in cooking, to create salad dressings or homemade mayonnaise. You will have a good feeling about including something beneficial into your diet and it will taste great!