Exploring the true and false of apple cider vinegar.
Written by Caitlin Schille
Apple cider vinegar has been used as a home remedy for many years, but lately it has been gaining traction as the latest fad in a long line of health trends. With rapidly changing information and differences in “expert” opinion, it can be hard to know what health information to believe. Let’s take a closer look at the apple cider vinegar health craze and see if the facts back up the claims.
What Is It?
First and foremost, just what is apple cider vinegar? After witnessing people avoiding gluten without actually knowing what gluten is, it would be wise to determine what exactly is behind the curtain of the apple cider vinegar health claims.
As the name implies, apple cider vinegar is mostly just apple juice–but with a fermented twist. Putting yeast into apple juice turns the fruit sugar into alcohol, and bacteria cause the alcohol to become acetic acid, and you end up with apple cider vinegar.
- Weight Loss: One of the most audacious claims is that drinking apple cider vinegar can help you lose weight. There’s not much evidence that this claim is true–it may help a little bit, but it certainly isn’t a magic bullet for weight loss.
- Blood Glucose Control: Another purported health benefit of apple cider vinegar is that it can help lower blood sugar levels in those who are pre-diabetic and in others. Research suggests this is true. If you consume apple cider vinegar (or any type of vinegar), it helps block the absorption of starch.
- Cancer: Vinegar does contain antioxidants, which can help prevent cancer. But studies are unclear about whether apple cider vinegar itself helps prevent cancer.
- Itchiness: Dr. Marie Jhin, a dermatologist, says that apple cider vinegar can also help with a common summertime topical issue- mosquito bites. She says that if you’re covered in itchy mosquito bites, put two cups of apple cider vinegar into the bathtub and soak–this will help reduce the itchiness.
The Risks Of Apple Cider Vinegar
Are there downsides to consuming apple cider vinegar? The answer is a definite yes. Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic, so too much of it can damage your teeth, damage your throat lining, and even damage your stomach. An additional study found that apple cider vinegar can slow down digestion, which makes it harder for your body to regulate blood sugar levels- this is important information for people with diabetes. Apple cider vinegar can also interact with medications that treat heart disease and diabetes, so it’s important to talk with your doctor before starting the consumption of apple cider vinegar.
So does apple cider vinegar live up to the health claims? Like most things, the answer is somewhere in the middle. Apple cider vinegar may not be the magic bullet for health that some claim it to be, but it certainly can have some benefits. As with most things, because of the potential negative side effects of consuming too much apple cider vinegar, it is best to take it in moderation.
Sources: europepmc.org, cnn.com, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov