07/17/2019 Nutrition and Recipes
Is apple cider vinegar a cure-all? It may not solve all of your health problems, but it might be more beneficial than you think. Itchy scalps, digestion issues, blood sugar issues, overeating, and more—these health benefits await!
If you’ve ever seen “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” you know that for every ailment the dad says: “Put some Windex on it.” That’s like apple cider vinegar’s role for health. Apple cider vinegar health benefits are endless. It has so many uses not only for internal health, such as relieving a sore throat, but it can also help keep your external environment clean as well. It’s an all-in-one health food. Try incorporating some apple cider vinegar recipes into your daily meals to enjoy its benefits.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made from the fermentation of apple cider. The fermentation process involves using bacteria or yeasts to create a chemical change in the product that is being fermented. This reduces the amount of sugar in the apple cider and turns it into acid. It’s a simple process that is used in many different avenues. Alcoholic fermentation is used for beer and wine and lactic acid fermentation is used for things like apple cider vinegar and sauerkraut.
Not all apple cider vinegar is created equal. What type of apple cider vinegar you get is important. If it’s processed, it won’t have the same health benefits as raw apple cider vinegar—the processed vinegar is missing the live bacteria. The company Bragg makes a great product that is raw and unfiltered so it has all the benefits of fermentation intact. Let’s take a look at apple cider vinegar’s health benefits.
When it comes to digestion, food like kombucha, yogurt, and anything with probiotics are typically suggested as a way to improve your digestive process. Because of the fermentation process, drinking apple cider vinegar acts like a probiotic in the body, therefore its benefits are similar to those of probiotics—reducing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) like bloating, gas, and diarrhea, as well as reducing inflammation in the digestive tract.
Apple cider vinegar’s health benefits include helping increase the production of acid in your stomach, which is responsible for breaking down the foods you eat. Start with adding 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water daily. If the taste is too acidic, add a little bit of honey to minimize the acidity.
You can also try this “digestive fire” drink to give your body a big apple cider vinegar boost in the morning.
- 12 oz water
- 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Add all ingredients to a jar, screw on the lid, shake it up, and drink!
2. Weight Loss
Apple cider vinegar is beneficial for digestion as mentioned above, but it’s also helpful for weight loss. Specifically, it can help with appetite control. When fermented, apple cider vinegar has something called acetic acid that has been shown to alter neurons in the hypothalamus. This leads to your brain signaling that you’re full—aka, appetite suppression. This can help with weight loss because it will assist in preventing overeating. Have one tablespoon in water per day to start.
3. Blood Sugar Balance
Balancing blood sugar levels is critical for those with diabetes, but it’s important for everyone. Blood sugar is important for liver health and energy levels. Managing blood sugar is what helps you avoid developing type 2 diabetes. Apple cider vinegar has been shown to lower blood sugar and improve insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetics. One study has also found that drinking apple cider vinegar before bed improves fasting glucose levels in the morning. This helps those with type 2 diabetes as well.
Another study has found that apple cider vinegar can improve the insulin levels response after eating, which helps keep blood sugar from spiking after meals. Incorporating apple cider vinegar into your daily routine and diet can be helpful if you have type 2 diabetes or if you want to keep your blood sugar stable and avoid developing diabetes in the future.
4. Lower Cholesterol
In animal studies, apple cider vinegar has been shown to reduce triglyceride levels and lower overall cholesterol numbers. Other animal studies showed that apple cider vinegar reduced blood pressure in hypertensive rats. There have yet to be studies done on humans, but the evidence shown cholesterol levels in rats is promising.
5. Feminine Health
The acidic component of apple cider vinegar may help restore the natural pH level of the urinary tract and vagina. Some believe that drinking apple cider vinegar with its antibacterial properties will reduce bacterial infections overall. Research has yet to confirm apple cider vinegar’s vaginal health benefits, but one study showed that apple cider vinegar was helpful for inhibiting the growth of yeast and bacteria.
6. Skin Health
As mentioned above, the fermentation process of apple cider creates acetic acid, which has antibacterial and antifungal properties. So using it on your skin may help clear out any bacteria or fungi that are causing blemishes or poor skin health overall. It can be used similar to a toner. Because it’s such a powerful acid, dilute one-part apple cider vinegar with two-parts water. You can apply this with a cotton pad or mix it in a spray bottle to spray on your face directly. It’s DIY skin health that’s food-based!
7. Bacteria Killer
The antibacterial and antifungal properties of apple cider vinegar from the acetic acid make it a great product to use as a natural cleaner. Research shows that acetic acid is effective in killing mycobacteria that are known for causing tuberculosis. Non-tuberculosis mycobacteria are common in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis and those with suppressed immune systems.
Certain strains of mycobacterium can be drug resistant, and other effective disinfectants are typically toxic and expensive. Using apple cider vinegar as a natural cleaner to kill bacteria is effective and affordable. Make a one-part apple cider vinegar and one-part water solution to use as a cleaner for your house.
8. Alternative to Other Vinegars
Apple cider vinegar is not the same as balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, or white vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is slightly more alkaline in nature because of nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium. It has these nutrients because it’s made from apples whereas white vinegar, for example, is made from alcohol. It’s better to use this vinegar in your cooking or homemade salad dressings because of these extra nutritional boosts.
Try this easy homemade salad dressing using apple cider vinegar.
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk together until the dressing emulsifies.
9. Itchy Scalp
An itchy scalp is no fun! Apple cider vinegar may help with that. Because apple cider vinegar is antimicrobial, it may help reduce fungus and bacteria from preventing itchy scalps. It’s easy to use too! Mix one-part apple cider vinegar with one-part water and apply it to your scalp before the shower. Leave it on for about five minutes and then continue with your normal shampoo routine.
As you can see, the benefits of apple cider vinegar are many and varied. It is an all-in-one health food! Remember to always buy raw and unfiltered to experience all its potential benefits.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health programs.
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