From The Straits Times    |
10 truths and lies about apple cider vinegar THUMBNAIL

If you spend enough time on Facebook or read wellness blogs, you are bound to have come across posts about apple cider vinegar (ACV), detailing some pretty outrageous assertions about the sharp-tasting, amber-coloured folk remedy. Not only is the stuff said to suppress your appetite and melt body fat, it is also claimed to guard against a range of ailments, from diabetes to heart disease.

10 truths and lies about apple cider vinegar DECOR

ACV is a type of vinegar made from apple juice, also known as apple cider. Bacteria and yeast are added to the cider, kick-starting the fermentation process, which converts the natural sugars into alcohol. A second fermentation process turns the alcohol into vinegar. The acetic acid and malic acid in ACV are what give it its trademark sharp, tart taste.

ACV has been a health and cooking staple for millennia – since 5,000 BC, in fact, when the Babylonians used it as a preservative and condiment. Over 2,000 years ago, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, treated his patients with a mixture of ACV and honey, which is thought to have worked like an antibiotic. And in his 1958 book, Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide To Good Health, Dr D. C. Jarvis recommended the use of ACV to cure a number of health conditions, including migraines, chronic fatigue and arthritis.

Today, ACV is still used as an eco-friendly cleaning agent, for hygiene, health and beauty purposes, and in cooking. Affordable, all natural, and easy to find, it’s not surprising that it is a standby in many homes, but does it live up to the hype and headlines? We check out 10 common ACV claims.

1. It aids weight loss by curbing cravings and controlling hunger: A tablespoonful of the golden nectar before a meal is thought to decrease one’s appetite, leading to the overall consumption of fewer calories, and in turn, weight loss. A couple of small studies have, in fact, supported this, but until more – and larger scale – studies are done, it is naïve to think of ACV as quick fix for shifting excess kilos. Sure, it doesn’t hurt to add a splash of ACV to your salads and marinades, but you still have to practise portion control and exercise regularly if you want to lose weight safely and permanently. Must-know tip: You should never drink a large amount of ACV straight. It is highly acidic and can damage your oesophagus.    

2. It melts body fat: There is no strong scientific evidence to support the belief that ACV dissolves body fat (if only!). This claim therefore does not give you license to eat whatever you want without gaining weight.

3. It protects your heart: Several studies done on rats have found that ACV can lower cholesterol and high blood pressure. However, more research still needs to be done in this area. Until strong evidence from human-based studies is put forward, the best way to keep your heart in good shape is sticking to a low fat, low sodium, high fibre diet, staying physically active and controlling your stress levels.

4. It reduces your diabetes risk: There seems to be some promise for this claim. Carol Johnston, who directs the nutrition programme at Arizona State University has been studying ACV for more than a decade and believes that the vinegar does lower the glycaemic index of starchy foods. This means that it prevents a certain percentage of carbohydrates from being digested, keeping your blood glucose level from spiking. A 2007 study conducted on Type 2 diabetes patients found that two tablespoons of ACV before bedtime decreased their blood sugar level the next morning by four to six per cent. It is the acetic acid in ACV that is thought to give it its anti-glycaemic properties. Acetic acid is found in most types of vinegar, so you can get the same effect from white vinegar and red wine vinegar. 

According to the American Diabetes Association, unfiltered ACV increases insulin sensitivity in the body. This means that it increases your body’s ability to utilise the hormone insulin to transport glucose from the blood to the cells, where it is used to produce energy. This is good news for those who are looking for new ways to reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes. Despite these claims, however, the best way to manage your blood sugar level and prevent diabetes is still to get your diet under control – that entails cutting out refined, processed sugars and eating whole, unprocessed or minimally processed, low-fat, nutrient dense foods.

5. It removes warts: You may have read that dabbing ACV on warts can eliminate them. The acid in the vinegar might dry out the skin, allowing you to peel the wart away from the healthy skin after a couple of weeks, but this natural remedy does nothing to kill HPV, the virus that causes these warts in the first place. So, while you may be able to get rid of the wart, you cannot guarantee that it will not come back.

6. It helps digestion: The natural fruit enzymes in ACV may aid the breakdown of food in the digestive system. Pectin, a soluble fibre found in apples, also provides “bulk” by absorbing water in the gut, which helps transport food through the bowel more easily. Use ACV in salad dressings to reap this particular health benefit.

7. It improves oral health: Gargling with ACV – even diluted ACV – does not eradicate tooth decay. On the contrary, the acid can damage your tooth enamel and the sensitive gum tissue. When the protective tooth enamel has been worn down, you increase your risk of cavities.

8. It heals acne: Using ACV topically can irritate the skin. It can even cause burns because it is, after all, an acid. And while it does have anti-microbial properties, it has not been proven as an effective remedy against acne bacteria. You’re better off just dabbing some anti-acne medication onto your spots and letting the problem heal on its own.

9. It gets rid of dandruff: An ACV rinse does nothing for dandruff or an itchy scalp – there is no evidence to support this claim.

10. It makes your hair soft and shiny: Again, there is no truth in the idea that an ACV rinse helps “close” your hair cuticles, thereby increasing its light-reflective properties. There is probably no harm pouring ACV onto your hair after you wash it, but if your strands are dull, dry and unhealthy, their texture and appearance are unlikely to change for the better just because you rinsed it with ACV.

Image copyright: heikerau / 123RF Stock Photo

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