Although it is hotly contested by the medical community, apple cider vinegar is touted by many as a miracle cure. It literally comes from apple cider, which is made by mashing whole apples into a paste and then straining the liquid out; while apple juice is filtered further, pasteurized, and generally filled with sweeteners and preservatives, pure cider retains all the nutrients of apples. Once it is allowed to ferment, it becomes apple cider vinegar. While less important when using it for cooking or baking, pick an organic and unfiltered vinegar when using it for health benefits, which some claim include everything from weight loss to fending off infections.
No, drinking apple cider vinegar by the barrel will not make you skinny. In fact, because of its acidity, drinking it undiluted can damage your esophagus and the enamel of your teeth, so don’t do that. What it may do (although studies are limited) is suppress your appetite and help control blood sugar and insulin production (which further reduces between meal snacking desires).
Even when taking apple cider vinegar religiously to try to shed a few extra pounds, you’ll still have to exercise, eat healthy, and watch your portions. For best results with minimal side effects, start by drinking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a full cup of water once a day, gradually increasing to two tablespoons per cup of water up to three times a day, about an hour before eating for maximum effectiveness.
Apple cider vinegar’s blood sugar and insulin control are approved even by some of the medical community, thus its reputation for helping diabetics. It prevents some (although not all) of consumed starch from being digested, so blood sugar doesn’t go up. On the other hand, some experts say the effect is so minimal it isn’t worth ingesting the additional acid which can make gastroparesis (a condition in which the stomach empties more slowly than normal) worse and is rough on the bones and the kidneys. If you’re diabetic, definitely don’t quit taking medicine to switch to apple cider vinegar, and talk to your doctor before trying them in tandem.
While its slowing down of digestion is bad for those with gastroparesis, it can be good for other purposes. The unfiltered kind is cloudy and kind of gross looking, but the blob inside is filled with the healthy stuff in apples—good bacteria and probiotics. This not only helps relieve constipation (which apples are known for already), but can improve immune function, especially in the gut, as all that good bacteria keeps harmful, infectious bacteria in check.
So, does a glass of apple cider vinegar a day keep the doctor away? Like most holistic “cures,” you should talk to your doctor before using it for anything serious, especially if you have any underlying conditions. While it definitely has its merits (you can safely spray it on a sunburn for relief), there’s no guarantee and some risks may not be worth it.