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This article is an in-depth, evidence based, exhaustive guide on Apple Cider Vinegar. If you’re in a hurry, you can skip to the relevant section by clicking below.
Here’s what we shall explore:
Legend has it that Hippocrates, the greek father of medicine, treated many of his patients using Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV. He used this folk remedy to treat various conditions ranging from bad breath, sore throat, ulcers to even ‘fractures’.
The presence of ACV has also been traced back to Egyptian urns as old as 3000 BC! Greeks and Romans supposedly used ACV for flavouring food like salad dressings. It was also used to fend off certain diseases, as a body deodorant and a healing tonic.
Surprising uses for apple cider vinegar, huh?
But all of the above uses do not have sufficient evidence to support them. So let’s look at something more evidence based.
In the beginning there were…
Apples were first grown in Egypt on the banks of the Nile River around 1300 BC. After this they spread throughout Africa and Europe. And then, through trade, to the rest of the world.
Until recently, apples were not widely used for eating—the ancients considered them too “sour”. Apples were instead used to make juice. They would be juiced and consumed immediately as they had a low shelf life.
But by 55BC, when the Romans arrived in England, apple juice was an old story. Apple Cider was now a popular drink with the masses. This can be found in the literature of the time.
So what is Cider?
Apple Cider is fermented apple juice. It’s an alcoholic beverage widely consumed in all of Europe and the USA.
Apple juice is left to ferment in barrels. The natural sugars in carbohydrates of fruits like apple get broken down by yeast and bacteria and turned into ethanol (alcohol).
Thus is born Apple Cider.
So what’s the difference between Apple Cider and Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple Cider is an alcoholic beverage containing ethanol.When Apple Cider goes through a second round of fermentation, the ethanol gets converted into acetic acid, thus forming Apple Cider Vinegar.
Vinegar is an old fermentation process. The first traces of vinegar go back to almost 5000 BC in ancient Babylonia.
This indicates that the ancient cultures of Egypt, Babylon, Greece and Rome might have used ACV for its health benefits, antibacterial properties, preservative abilities…the list goes on.
Somewhere through the course of time, ACV was lost. And with it were lost the whole host of health benefits that it offers. But In recent times ACV has resurfaced and this ancient food is now being used for the many benefits it provides.
As we have already established, ACV is formed when Apple Juice is fermented into Apple Cider, then fermented again to form ACV.
Let’s try to breakdown ACV further into its nutritional components.
Scientific evidence shows more or less negligible nutritional value of ACV. But that doesn’t mean it has no value at all.
ACV is diluted acetic acid. Acetic acid helps induce a higher absorption from the food consumed. This plays a significant role in its “magical” health benefits. Its capability to aid absorption is a gold mine on its own.
Like any other vinegar, ACV is approximately 5% acid. Therefore, drinking apple cider vinegar in large proportions can actually be harmful. All one needs is about a teaspoon of Apple Cider Vinegar to get all the benefits associated with it.
Now that we know the formation and constituents of ACV, let’s look at its health benefits. We will also debunk some myths which have been doing the rounds, so that you don’t harm yourself.
Allergies occur when a stimulant causes irritation to the system. Common colds, pollen and weather changes are examples of common stimulants. When this happens, the body produces histamine to combat the alien particles/sensations. The release of histamine helps but the effects of histamine on the body and the mind can hurt. Rashes, fever and swollen airways are too much to handle. In such a situation, a spoon of ACV with warm water may provide relief. ACV is a natural antihistamine which helps to slow down the production of histamines and quells the symptoms of allergy.
Many on the internet claim that ACV cures arthritis—they’re mistaken. Arthritis is a condition which needs to be treated holistically and ACV can, at best, play its part by ‘aiding’ your pain relief efforts.
Calcium buildup in joints causes stiffness and pain. ACV contains potassium, which helps prevent this buildup. Accumulation of toxins is yet another cause of arthritis. The pectin in ACV helps remove the toxins from the body. A spoonful of Apple Cider Vinegar in a glass of water can help ease arthritis over time.
ACV has been found especially effective in controlling blood sugar levels and type-2 diabetes. Type-2 diabetes is characterised by insulin resistance. Studies have shown that taking ACV along with a high carbohydrate meal showed reduced spikes in blood sugar post the meal. This can also be used for pre-diabetics who are suffering from only High Blood Sugar levels. A separate study also found that consumption of ACV with a ‘cheese snack’ for dinner, reduced blood sugar levels the following morning. Thus it also helps to reduce fasting blood sugar levels.
No, ACV does not ‘burn fat’ or ‘increase metabolism’, as many articles claim. Remember, when it comes to losing weight, there are no shortcuts—you need to change your lifestyle. But ACV can certainly support your efforts. Research shows that ACV intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglyceride levels.
A spoonful of ACV with a cup of water just before meals can help you reach satiety earlier and keep you feeling full for longer.
Sore and Itchy throat
Germs cannot survive in an acidic environment. ACV being 5% acid can provide some respite when we have an itchy throat. A tablespoon of ACV mixed in warm water can be used for gargling. This can be repeated 2–3 times a day. Avoid taking ACV directly for it is too acidic and can irritate the throat.
Dermatologist Dr. Marie Jhin says it can be used for drying out pimples. She also gives a thumbs up to ACV as a home remedy for insect bites thanks to its acid content.
The acid content of ACV is supposed to stimulate the shedding of dead skin cells on the scalp. It also has antifungal characteristics that can keep your scalp healthy. Always dilute it in water before applying on scalp.
Applying ACV is a nifty solution to shun body odour. There are several causes of body odour from an underlying health condition to consumption of certain kinds of foods. ACV does not prevent the body odour but only acts as a natural and healthier substitute for a deodorant. It also provides an acidic barrier for the skin that helps to keep bacteria and germs at bay. If you have a serious issue with body odour, consult a qualified dermatologist.
Bad breath, like bad body odour, could indicate an underlying condition. Improper food habits, indigestion and poor oral care/hygiene are the most obvious causes of bad breath. Gargling with a mixture of ACV and water can help reduce bad breath. Do not gargle with undiluted ACV as it can damage your teeth. Half a spoon of ACV in a glass of water is sufficient to kill odour causing bacteria.
ACV has been known to aid absorption of nutrients from other foods. That means, consuming ACV makes other foods more nutritionally effective.
The above mentioned benefits are ones that are evidence based, backed by expert. But there are also other benefits doing rounds of the internet. These benefits are have not yet been conclusively established by research. Hence it’s wise to not take them at face value.
Here is a list of unverified benefits associated with Apple Cider Vinegar:
- Prevents/cures cancer
- Causes ‘instant’ weight loss
- Makes teeth healthy
- Cures varicose veins
- Whitens teeth
- Cures insomnia
- Cures baldness
In almost all scenarios, where ACV is applied to the body or consumed, it’s never used without dilution. Because of its acidic nature, it’s always diluted with water/honey.
The dosage is always about 2-3 [5ml-30ml] teaspoons per 200ml and no more.
It can also be consumed in foods like salad dressing. The best option is to use an organic, unfiltered version!
We’d like to conclude by saying Apple Cider Vinegar is not a “magic” food. It’s not a cure-all solution. But there is no doubt that it is a great addition to one’s diet and has some great benefits 🙂
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1- Apple Cider Vinegar: Miracle Health System by Patricia Bragg; published by Bragg Health Sciences
2- Apple Cider Vinegar for Health by Britt Brandon; published by Adams Media
3- Apple Cider Vinegar for Health and Beauty by McGrath Simone; published by Skyhorse
Spot an error in this article? A typo maybe? Or an incorrect source? Let us know!