Apple cider vinegar has a long history as a medicinal powerhouse. For centuries, it’s been used to aid in weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and even improve symptoms of chronic conditions like diabetes. In recent years, it’s created quite a stir in health circles as people seek to step outside the confinements and potential dangers of modern medicine to improve their health from the inside out. In this article, we discuss the amazing health benefits of apple cider vinegar and how to incorporate it into your life. But first, let’s explore apple cider vinegar uses and how it’s made.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar? How Is It Made?
Apple cider vinegar—or “ACV” as it’s sometimes called—is a type of vinegar made from apples. Pretty simple, right? Not so fast. Making apple cider vinegar is a bit of complicated process. First, crushed apples are exposed to yeast, which then ferments the sugars and turns them into alcohol. Then, bacteria is added to the alcohol solution to further ferment the alcohol and transform it into acetic acid, which is the main active compound in vinegar. In organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, you will also find strands of proteins, enzymes and beneficial bacteria. This group of bacteria is called the “mother,” and is the source of most of ACV’s health benefits! For cleaning and other household uses, any type of apple cider vinegar will do, but if you want to reap the many health benefits of ACV listed below, be sure to get one with the “mother.” Bragg’s is probably the most common brand on the market, and it comes with the “mother.”
How Do People Consume Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar can be used in salad dressings, chutneys, and other recipes. Many people who believe in the health benefits of ACV dilute a tablespoon or two of the liquid into a glass of water and drink it in the morning. Because of its strong taste, it’s not necessarily something you’d want to go chugging straight from the bottle. (They do, however, make apple cider vinegar juices, which are diluted with other ingredients.) We’ll get into more uses for apple cider vinegar later on in this article!
6 Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Now that you know what apple cider vinegar is and how it’s made, here’s what you’ve been waiting for: what it actually does for you! Here are six of the top health benefits of apple cider vinegar.
1. Naturally Detoxifies Your Body
Raw ACV is the only vinegar that is alkaline-forming to the body. All other vinegars (white, balsamic, red wine, etc) are acid-forming. For a health balanced pH, raw apple cider vinegar is one of the best things to add to your diet. ACV boosts stomach acid levels which aids in digestion but does not make your body acidic. Stomach acid helps digest the food you consume and brings it into the small intestine quicker. Keeping your body alkaline and your digestion working smoothly are two of the best ways to naturally detoxify your body! (For more great ideas, check out the free download below!)
2. Kills Harmful Bacteria
Traditionally used for cleaning and disinfecting, along with treating nail fungus, warts and ear infections, vinegar can aid in killing pathogens such as bacteria. Even Hippocrates used vinegar to clean wounds more than 2,000 years ago. Studies have found that it inhibits bacteria from growing and spoiling food, making it a great natural food preservative (1, 2). It is also believed that diluted apple cider vinegar is helpful in treating acne when applied on the skin.
3. Lowers Blood Sugar Levels & Improves Diabetes
Elevated blood sugar is a major cause of aging and many chronic diseases, while type 2 diabetes is also characterized by elevated blood sugars, either in regards to insulin resistance or the inability to produce insulin. The best ways to avoid elevated blood sugar levels is to steer clear of refined carbs and sugar, and to take advantage of ACV. Research has shown that it can improve insulin sensitivity during a high-carb meal by 19-34 percent, as well as significantly lower blood glucose and insulin responses. Numerous other studies reveal that it can improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar responses during meals as well (3, 4, 5, 6).
4. Helps Weight Loss
Because vinegar lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, it’s apparent that it can also aid in weight loss. In fact, many human studies prove it can boost feelings of satiety, help you consume less calories and reduce belly fat, waist circumference, lower blood triglycerides and lead to weight loss. In fact, a recent study found that apple cider vinegar can suppress body fat through a process called inhibition of lipogenesis (fat storage) meaning it can block the ability of certain enzymes to create fatty acids in the body.
Related: How To Make Your Own Kombucha
5. Fuels Your Muscles
ACV can aid your muscles in producing energy before a major push. Endurance athletes are known for drinking diluted vinegar on occasion before loading up on carbs the night before competing. This is because the acetic acid in vinegar can help the muscles transform the carbs into energy in order to fuel intense exercise.
6. Relieves Constipation
ACV works as a natural laxative to induce bowel movements thanks to its high levels of pectin. A water soluble fiber, pectin aids in the normalization of acid levels while increasing the absorption of fiber. This improves digestion and treats constipation. The malic acid also helps to ease digestive issues such as constipation.
How To Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is deemed safe to use, with no side effects noted with normal consumption. This is the type of medicine that, in a world bogged by medicines boasting a long list of scary side effects, feels revolutionary, despite how old it is. Here are several apple cider vinegar uses to incorporate it into your diet:
1. Drink Daily
Dilute it in 8-16 oz. of water and drink it as a beverage. Dosages typically range from 1-2 teaspoons to 1-2 tablespoons per day.
2. Salad Dressing Swap
Use ACV in place of balsamic vinegar in salad dressing. A simple recipe would be to mix 3/4 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
3. Facial Toner
Use as a facial toner by mixing one part ACV to 3-4 parts water, then apply to skin with a cotton pad, allow to sit for 10 minutes, then rinse. You can repeat this three times per day.
4. Heartburn Helper
Sip before you eat something you know typically causes you indigestion by adding 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar to a glass of warm water. Drink it 30 minutes before you dine. You can also use this elixir after eating if you feel symptoms of acid reflux coming on.
5. Sickness Saver
ACV’s high levels of potassium help clear up sinus infections, candida, sore throats and allergies, so before you head to the drug store, try simply mixing a few teaspoons in hot water with honey and lemon.
6. Natural Cleaner
Rather than using toxic chemicals to clean your toilet, try ACV instead. Because it’s antibacterial, it acts as a natural disinfectant. All you have to do is pour some vinegar into your toilet and let it sit overnight. To clean other areas of the home, mix half a cup of vinegar with one cup of water and place in a spray bottle. This solution can clean anything from microwaves and kitchen counters to windows and mirrors.
7. Healthy Hair Rinse
Everyone wants healthy hair, which is why people dish out a pretty penny for products to keep their locks luscious. But ACV can work, too. Save an old shampoo bottle and fill it with half a tablespoon of vinegar and one cup of water, then rinse your hair with the mixture after shampooing a few times a week. You may notice fuller-looking, shinier hair.
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