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The true benefits of apple cider vinegar

By MYLENE MENDOZA-DAYRIT, The Philippine STAR Published Apr 09, 2024 5:00 am

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has several health benefits, including managing blood sugar levels, backed by research. However, social media posts tend to sensationalize it as a“miracle potion.” 

The fact is, you need not consume huge amounts to get good results. Start with small amounts and build up to a maximum of two tablespoons a day. You should also never take it straight. It should be diluted in water or simply added to your favorite recipes. You should also never apply it undiluted to your skin or hair. 

ACV has been used as a cooking ingredient and natural medicine for thousands of years. It can easily be incorporated into your meals as part of salad dressings by mixing it with olive oil. You can also substitute mayo by combining avocado and ACV as a binding agent, use it to prepare pickles, drizzle it on sautéed vegetables, or you can incorporate it in marinades. 

There are many ways to incorporate apple cider vinegar into your diet. For a refreshing mocktail, mix lemon juice, soda water and ACV. Drizzle some honey if you want it slightly sweet.

The amount of ACV that you should take and the timing of taking it before or after meals will depend on your goal. Experts say there is no difference in taking it before bedtime and they recommend that you should take it at least three hours before bedtime. 

For the management of blood sugar, you can take four teaspoons of ACV mixed with water before a high-carb meal. Vinegar prevents large blood sugar spikes by slowing the rate the stomach is emptied. The crucial part is when to take it. ACV diluted in water should be taken immediately before a high-carb meal. 

To improve symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), one tablespoon of ACV mixed with water after dinner may help relieve its symptoms. PCOS is a hormonal condition involving abnormal menstrual cycles, ovarian cysts, insulin resistance, and high levels of androgen hormones. 

While there are claims of weight loss benefits, more research is required to establish that. Those who claimed to have received weight loss benefits consume two tablespoons each day, most likely split into two glasses of water with one tablespoon of ACV each taken after meals.

Apple Cider Vinegar for weight loss and digestive health

A recent 2024 study, which increased the dosage to three tablespoons of ACV diluted in water, resulted in six- to eight-kilo weight loss, reduced body fat ratio, lower BMI and blood sugar, as well as improved waist-hip ratio. However, there is still a need to validate the results with further studies. 

Another claim that needs validation is using ACV before high-protein meals to improve digestion. The thinking is that the heightened acidity in the stomach from taking ACV before meals encourages the release of more pepsin. This is the enzyme needed to break down protein. The dosage is the same—one tablespoon of ACV mixed with water—but this time taken before a high-protein meal. 

Though there were some reported side effects such as damage to tooth enamel, low potassium levels, and bone deterioration, these were isolated cases involving the undiluted and prolonged use of ACV involving one cup of the acid every day. There are no reported serious side effects from those who do not go over two tablespoons per day diluted with drinking water. 

ACV can also enhance hair shine, but it's advised to limit use to avoid potential side effects.

Since ACV may slow the rate at which food leaves the stomach, it cannot be taken by people who have gastroparesis (a condition where food stays in the stomach longer than normal) as well as those with type 1 diabetes. For the latter, it may make insulin management hard to predict due to the effects of slow stomach emptying. You should also check with your physician for any drug interaction it may have with your current daily prescriptions. 

ACV’s antibacterial properties are due to its acetic acid and, in smaller amounts, citric, lactic, and succinct acids. ACV is reported to help kill the bacteria that cause breakouts. If you are going to try it, the recommendation is to mix one part ACV to three parts water. Use more water if you have sensitive skin. Keep the mixture in a bottle and shake before using. Apply with a cotton ball and let it stay on the skin for five to 20 seconds before rinsing with water. 

ACV is also used to enhance hair shine. Dilute one part ACV with five parts water in a spray bottle. Apply the mixture to wet hair. Let the mixture stay for five minutes, then rinse with water. Since hair shine is one of the most popular benefits of ACV, haircare brand Dphue sells an Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse available on Amazon and Sephora. Other brands have their own ACV hair treatments as well. Hair experts caution that you limit use to thrice a week maximum.