Apple Cider Vinegar: History’s Healthy Ingredient
Apple cider vinegar has been used since ancient times from Africa to China as a way to improve your health. More recently, apple cider vinegar has been utilized to control diabetes, lower cholesterol, lose weight, and as a part of detox diets.
Apple cider vinegar is created from the fermentation of apple cider. The fermentation process begins by adding yeast or bacteria to the cider which becomes alcohol and eventually turns into vinegar. Traditionally, people use apple cider vinegar as a cooking additive or as a part of salad dressings. But since apple cider is recently being rediscovered as one of nature’s superfoods, it is being sold as gummies, detox powders, and as a central ingredient in several lines of nutritional carbonated beverages.
How People Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
Since there are many different health benefits to drinking apple cider vinegar, many people are looking for the best kind to try.
The Traditional Method
One of the more traditional ways to drink apple cider vinegar is to consume it raw and unfiltered. People will either take a shot of it in the morning or mix it with a glass of water. Hopefully, they’re drinking it for their health because they certainly aren’t drinking it for the taste. Most people find the taste acidic, sour, and generally unpleasant, even when diluted.
Others will mix pure apple cider vinegar with various fruit juices, raw honey, ground cinnamon, or cayenne pepper. This of course takes time and effort, not only to make but to discover a mixture that best suits your palate.
And when making your apple cider vinegar drink you’ve got to be careful not to overdo it. The common dosage is 15-30 ml per day, but if you accidentally miscalculate, the acid could end up damaging your esophagus or cause acid reflux.
Newer Sparkling Beverages With Apple Cider Vinegar
Fortunately, some companies are currently producing apple cider vinegar drinks that they hope will taste much better than most homemade brews.
Trader Joe’s has recently released two different sparkling apple cider vinegar drinks: lemon and strawberry. These carbonated beverages mix organic lemon and strawberry juice with apple cider vinegar to create a tart yet tangy flavor. It should be noted that each can comes with 8 grams of sugar which is certainly something to consider if you are trying to limit your sugar intake.
Another brand of sparkling apple cider vinegar on the market is Switchle. These drinks combine a variety of ingredients including rooibos, matcha, and mint.
Each can comes with 12 grams of sugar, so if you’re a diabetic looking to take advantage of the health benefits apple cider vinegar is purported to give this might not be the best choice.
One of the newest fizzy apple cider vinegar drinks is Breezzo.
Breezzo currently comes in 4 different flavors: Pomegranate Hibiscus, Berry Beet, Pineapple Tumeric, and Ginger Lemon. Each type contains Vitamin C and amino acids and is made with Manuka honey which can help soothe a sore throat. The sugar content ranges from 2 to 4 grams, making it one of the healthier choices.
The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
The primary component of any type of vinegar is acetic acid. Apple cider vinegar also contains amino acids and antioxidants, all of which proponents say can help people be more healthy.
Managing Blood Sugar Levels
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is believed to block enzymes that aid the digestion of starch or carbohydrates, which decreases the blood sugar response after eating things like pasta or bread.
Some studies have suggested that drinking apple cider vinegar with a high carbohydrate meal can improve insulin and glucose levels. Its effect is thought to be similar to the blood-sugar-lowering medication metformin.
Aiding Weight Loss
Additional studies have proposed that apple cider vinegar can produce positive dietary effects.
After using apple cider vinegar as a part of their diet, people report feelings of fullness which reduces the amount of food they consume causing weight loss, especially when combined with balancing blood sugar levels. One study found that adding apple cider vinegar to a meal based on white bread made people feel fuller quicker and reduced blood glucose and insulin responses.
Another study of people on a diet of 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar apparently lead to reduced weight, hip circumference, and BMI.
Studies of apple cider vinegar done on animals suggest that it can improve triglycerides, cholesterol, and blood pressure.
Reducing Belly Fat
Animal studies of acetic acid have also produced lower accumulations of body fat as was also found to be the case in a study of overweight men. Over the course of 12 weeks, a group of men ate an acetic acid-rich vinegar diet and experienced a reduction in BMI, body weight, waist circumference, visceral fat, and triglyceride levels.
Acting As an Anti-Microbial
Vinegar has anti-microbial properties that may be able to prevent the growth of bacteria like E-coli which can be found in certain foods, or bacteria like Staphylococcus, and Candida albicans.
Apple Cider Vinegar Can Help With Digestion
Apple cider vinegar has been known to help digestion by reducing bloating and getting rid of heartburn.
Experiencing pain and discomfort after a meal is not normal. So when this happens it might be that we ate too much or there is something not functioning as it should within our digestive system.
A healthy digestive system means having a proper balance of acid levels within the stomach so nutrients can be absorbed effectively. When you have a lack of certain stomach acids, your body isn’t able to absorb nutrients and digestive issues can occur.
Consuming apple cider vinegar can increase acid production and help your body maintain a reservoir of gastric acid.
Other Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar
Getting Rid of Dandruff
Over the years some people have used apple cider vinegar as a home remedy for a number of health and beauty issues. One of these is the treatment of dandruff.
People have been known to spray an apple cider vinegar and water solution onto their scalp to treat flakes and itchiness. One of the main contributors to dandruff is yeast and the acetic acid within vinegar changes the pH levels on the head which makes it harder for yeast to grow. Some also claim that apple cider vinegar is effective at treating seborrheic dermatitis, a form of eczema.
An article in the Galen Medical Journal, published in 2017, proposed that applying a topical solution of vinegar combined with the herb “althea officinalis” may be able to cure seborrheic dermatitis.
Another topical use some people have been known to try is using apple cider vinegar as a hair rinse to get rid of shampoo build-up, but the solution needs to be diluted properly so it doesn’t sting one’s eyes.
Treating Sunburns and Skin Injuries
While many people might use aloe vera gel or a moisturizer to treat a sunburn, some say the best thing for sunburn is apple cider vinegar. Adding it to the bathtub or mixing it with water so it can be sprayed onto affected areas has been reported to relieve the pain and discomfort of sunburns.
Although there is no scientific evidence that it can treat sunburns effectively, the antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar may be able to stop skin infections that can arise after a sunburn or other skin injuries.
It’s important to note that apple cider vinegar shouldn’t be put on your skin without sufficiently diluting it because its strong acidity can damage skin and it certainly shouldn’t be used for serious burns. Always consult a healthcare professional if a sunburn appears more than just a minor irritant.
A weak apple cider vinegar solution may also help with the itching and irritation caused by poison ivy, mosquito bites, or jellyfish stings.
When a solution of water and apple cider vinegar is dabbed onto the skin it may help get rid of acne by drying out the skin. Again it should be sufficiently diluted as not to cause skin damage.
Each apple cider vinegar product has its own concentration of acetic acid, so it might be difficult to determine how much water to add to the solution so it can be a safe treatment.
Again there is little evidence to support the claim it can treat acne, but there are studies that it may decrease the appearance of varicose veins when applied to the skin.
One of its more popular uses has been that as a cure for a sore throat. Although there are many different recipes for a sore throat that include apple cider vinegar, many combine a small amount of apple cider vinegar, some honey, and a pinch of cayenne pepper stirred in warm water.
The capsaicin in hot peppers can relieve pain and people say that apple cider vinegar contains germ-fighting properties. But again caution is advised because if the solution is not properly diluted vinegar can corrode esophageal tissues.
Treating Body Odor
Others claim that smelly feet and malodorous armpits can be held in check by apple cider vinegar by balancing the skin’s pH levels and fighting the bacteria that causes body odor.
Typically, a solution of water and apple cider vinegar is dapped onto the bottom of the feet or the armpits. People even sometimes make wipes soaked in the solution and keep them in an airtight container to be used at a later date.
It might be prudent to first test your apple cider solution on a small part of the skin and not to use it if you’re going to wear clothes made of silk or leather because the acid might damage the clothing.
Beneficial Ingredients in Apple Cider Vinegar
Other beneficial nutrients contained in apple cider vinegar include:
- Amino Acids
History of Apple Cider Vinegar
Vinegar itself has been used for thousands of years for a variety of things. It is truly a product of nature that has been greatly beneficial to man. All alcoholic beverages whether they are made from fruits, grains, or plain sugar will turn to vinegar once exposed to the air. It’s bacteria within the atmosphere that turns the alcohol in wine, beer, and apple cider into acetic acid and gives vinegar its sour taste.
One of the most important uses of vinegar has been as a method of preserving food. Around 5000 BC, the Babylonians started using the vinegar from date fruits to preserve, or pickle, certain foods. And residues of vinegar have been found in ancient Egyptian urns that date back to 3000 BC.
It was also used as a medicine, to flavor foods, and even as an energizing drink. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, reportedly used apple cider vinegar as an antiseptic for colds some 2500 years ago.
Vinegar was mentioned both in the New and Old testaments. In Ruth 2:14, the maiden Ruth was invited to a meal with Boaz, for whom she worked, during which she dipped bread into vinegar.
Another story goes that the ancient Aryans, a nomadic tribe, developed a type of apple cider vinegar that was then passed on to the Romans and Greeks.
Julius Cesar reportedly discovered a fondness for apple cider vinegar while he was traveling through England in 55 BC. Even farm laborers in the Roman Empire apparently started drinking it on a regular basis.
Ancient royal families were said to use it to cure different ailments such as mushroom poisoning, toothache, and dandruff. And Japanese samurai warriors were known to drink it because they believed it gave them power and strength.
During the American Civil War and in World War I, it was used to treat injuries. And citizens of the ancient Persian empire used it to prevent the growth of body fat, while Romans used a combination of fire and vinegar to help them chip away at rock formations when conquering the Alps.
In 1958, an American physician named Dr. Jarvis penned a book called “Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health.” In it, he claimed that apple cider vinegar used with honey could be effective at treating high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and other ailments. He believed taking a spoonful of apple cider vinegar with honey every day could ensure good health.
His book inspired health practitioners and nutritionists to investigate this age-old treatment.
Possible Side Effects of Using Apple Cider Vinegar
If you are generally healthy there is little to concern yourself about. However, using apple cider vinegar, especially in an undiluted form, may have potential side effects, particularly if it is highly concentrated or you leave it on your skin for too long.
For example, apple cider vinegar may cause chemical burns. In a few rare instances, apple cider vinegar has caused chemical burns after people tried to use it to get rid of warts and also when using it to treat a skin condition called molluscum contagiosum.
And even though some advocate using it to freshen your breath or whiten teeth, the acetic acid can disintegrate tooth enamel and may cause cavities.
When taking undiluted apple cider vinegar internally, there is a chance it can decrease potassium levels and cause throat irritation, hypoglycemia, and allergic reactions. The acid can also cause burns and injuries to the digestive tract (throat, esophagus, and stomach), particularly when ingested in large amounts.
Apple cider vinegar should not be used as sinus wash, nasal spray, or in a neti pot. And it won’t help treat lice.
Preparation of an Apple Cider Vinegar Drink
Apple cider is currently available as a supplement and a liquid. Although there is no standard dosage for gummies or capsules. Be sure to follow the directions on the package carefully.
When preparing raw apple cider vinegar to be used internally, mixing 8 ounces of water with a teaspoon or tablespoon is generally the suggested amount although the safety of various doses is not known.
You can try to use more water in your apple cider vinegar mixture but the levels of acetic acid in different apple cider brands vary (unlike white vinegar, which is always 5% acetic acid), which makes it difficult to know how much acid is in your mixture.
If you’re interested in trying a more perfected mixture of one of history’s healthiest beverages, take a look at our selection of sparkling drinks.