Most of us want to be as healthy as possible, and that’s a good thing. However, when we hear about a product that can boost health and longevity, all too often, we’re quick to jump on the bandwagon without a thorough investigation of the claims. Apple cider vinegar is one such product about which there is much hype lately, so I decided to read some studies and share with you just a few things I found that research says about it.
A few weeks ago, I was at my hair dresser’s and she had a sign on her bathroom wall that said, “Wash your hands, and say your prayers, because Jesus and germs are everywhere.” I had to chuckle at the saying, but germs are no laughing matter. When the bad microbes outnumber the good ones in our system, we are in for illness and disease. Can apple cider vinegar help? Here’s what the research says: Apple cider vinegar is known to have antimicrobial properties. It has been shown in laboratory tests to inhibit the growth of the following bacteria:
- E. Coli – Some strains of this bacteria cause 75-95% of urinary tract infections, others cause pneumonia, breathing problems, or diarrhea. The strain O157:H7 can cause abdominal cramps, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and is the leading cause of acute kidney failure in children.
- S. Aureus – These bacteria are the leading cause of skin and soft tissue infections such as abscesses (boils), furuncles, and cellulitis. Although most staph infections are not serious, S. aureus can cause serious infections such as bloodstream infections, pneumonia, or bone and joint infections.
- C. Albicans – A pathogenic yeast common to the gut microflora, it can become deadly to immunocompromised individuals. It’s also the fungus responsible for oral thrush infections and vaginal yeast infections.
While I wouldn’t just depend on apple cider vinegar to protect me against harmful bacteria, it does look as if it would be helpful in conjunction with other health-promoting activities – like washing your hands.
There have been many studies showing the benefits of apple cider vinegar on blood sugar levels and belly fat. One such study showed that it could improve insulin sensitivity during a high carbohydrate meal by 19-34%! Another study showed that 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bedtime can reduce fasting blood sugar the next morning by 4%. However, it should also be noted that those in this study were adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes.
As for belly fat, apple cider vinegar helps you feel full, so that you eat fewer calories. People who took apple cider vinegar along with a high carbohydrate meal ate 200-275 fewer calories the rest of the day. This would be helpful in helping one to lose weight in a healthy manner. To lose a pound per week, one would need to eat 250 fewer calories per day while expending 250 through exercise, so if apple cider vinegar could help on the calorie portion of this equation, that would be great. Finally, a Japanese study showed body weight, BMI, visceral fat area, waist circumference, and serum triglyceride levels were significantly lower in a group given vinegar versus the placebo group.
Again, just as with the bacteria listed above, I wouldn’t depend on apple cider vinegar alone to control blood sugar or reduce belly fat. However, I would be willing to try the recommended 1-2 tablespoons per day to see if it helped in conjunction with other healthy habits.
Most of the studies concerning apple cider vinegar and cholesterol have been done on animals. Those studies showed apple cider vinegar can lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels in rats. It was also shown to reduce blood pressure in rats. The only human studies so far were done at Harvard, and they showed that women who ate vinegar in their salad dressing had a reduced risk of heart disease. These studies sound interesting, but we definitely need more data from human studies before we can make any claims concerning apple cider vinegar and its ability to lower cholesterol.
While I don’t see any harm in using apple cider vinegar for its antimicrobial properties, its ability to help improve blood sugar and melt belly fat, I certainly wouldn’t put all my eggs in one basket. There is no magic bullet for health. Great health outcomes result from an overall pattern of good food choices, along with adequate water, sunshine, sleep, and exercise. By all means, try any natural remedies you feel might help you after doing your research on them, but don’t think any of those things will counteract the harmful effects of a poor diet and lack of adequate exercise. If we want real results, we must put in the work. Have a great week!