Apple Cider Vinegar
I’ve been hearing about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar (ACV) for a long time; and vinegar’s been around a heck of a lot longer than I have. Vinegar is an ancient preservative and can trace its origins to a time when food, health and medicine were much more intricately related than they are today. Therefore, it really should come as no surprise that vinegar is an ingredient in many different remedies and a tablespoon or two is often recommended as a juicing supplement.
ACV is a product of fermentation. This is the same process that makes yogurt, cheese and sour dough bread. Fermentation can be accomplished by both bacteria, such as lactic acid bacilli or certain types of yeast. In fact the word vinegar is derived from the French word for “sour wine.” If you have leftover wine and leave it lying around long enough it can spoil and turn to vinegar. Although I think this might be a bit of a myth, because I’ve never actually seen any of this so-called “leftover wine.”
ACV is obviously the result of fermented apples. Among the health claims offered up as a result of ACV consumption are as a cardiovascular stimulator, a circulation enhancer and as an aid in liver detoxification. I can recall it being marketed as a weight loss aid under the moniker of “Jogging in a Jug.” It’s also been purported to eliminate acne, reduce allergies and fight yeast infections.
Like many other supplements it is marketed as a potential cure-all, so don’t believe all the hype. But there always is a grain of truth, somewhere if we look hard enough.. Interestingly, ACV is reported to balance the body’s inner chemistry by helping it attain a more alkaline state. All vinegars, by definition are acidic in nature. This is because the breakdown process of the bacteria or yeast will yield acetic acid; CH3COOH.
However, ACV contains much more than just acetic acid and water. As a result of diet, stress or vigorous exercise the body can find itself in a acidic state. It is been suggested that the amino acids contained in apple cider vinegar can act as a type of buffer, and help restore a more favorable body chemistry.
If you are suffering from diarrhea as a result of some bacterial infection ACV may be of aid due to its innate antibiotic properties. These properties may also aid in the treatment of sinus and throat infections. Because it is derived from apples, it contains significant levels of pectin. These can be helpful with intestinal spasms; which can be a minor irritant in the early phases of juicing and detox. A small study done in 2005 suggested that vinegar may help induce satiety. This is certainly that can be beneficial in the early phases of the juice fast and detox.
ACV contains potassium which is an essential mineral severely lacking in the modern Western diet. Along with some of the enzymes found in ACV potassium can act to increase energy, allow muscles to function more efficiently and even help reduce muscle spasms or cramping. It may also act to help reduce blood pressure.
In addition to its antihypertensive effect, several studies have suggested a benefit to patients suffering from diabetes. Many studies have documented a hypoglycemic effect with just two tablespoons of ACV at bedtime decreasing the morning glucose blood level by anywhere from four to six percent.
Studies have also suggested a potential benefit in cholesterol production. An observational study also suggested a potential benefit in terms of cardiovascular disease. Laboratory studies have shown ACV with an antitumor ability and one study did show an association with a decreased risk of esophageal cancer.
Although the dosages varied, the majority seem to indicate efficacy and safety with 1 to 2 tablespoons a day. If you are taking other medications, always check with your physician, pharmacist or other health professional to make sure that there is no significant interaction.
In terms of which ACV to use, I try to stay away from the brand endorsements. I do recommend that whatever brand you choose it be raw, organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized. I also recommend using real liquid ACV over ACV supplements, which you may find available in pill or powder form. A study several years ago found that in supplements, which are not regulated by the FDA, there was a great variation between ingredients of different brands. In some brands studied, the ingredients found on analysis did not match the ingredients listed on the box. And among many different kinds of supplements, the dosages varied widely indicating both a significant product variation and a lack of consensus as to supplement usage. Under analysis, some of the supplements appeared not to actually contain any apple cider vinegar at all. As always, caveat emptor.