Daily shot of vinegar could be answer to variety of health issues, some say
By AMY HOWELL
Gannett News Service
The use of apple cider vinegar as a
health and beauty aid has prompted lively debate. Pop sensation Fergie said she does a shot of vinegar every night to help maintain her physique. Last month, Natural Solutions magazine recommended taking a few tablespoons with meals to counter acid reflux.
Meanwhile, the April issue of Health magazine listed honey-and-vinegar mixtures among its list of “health whoppers” that do nothing for arthritis pain.
However, studies and their reports don’t deter apple cider vinegar stalwarts such as Nat Sisco, owner of The Green Market, a health food store in Lisbon. Sisco has been taking a dose of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar for four years.
“People wouldn’t use it if it didn’t work,” said Sisco, who said customers seek apple cider vinegar most frequently to aid in digestion. Its second-most-common use, Sisco observed, was as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Sisco even purports apple cider vinegar could aid in fighting cancer, as it breaks down food to alkaline mineral and reduces acid.
“It makes your body more alkaline, which cancer does not like,” Sisco said.
Whether or not apple cider vinegar wards off cancer, recent studies support centuries of anecdotal evidence — and suggest vinegar may at least ease or prevent a variety of other ailments.
A Swedish study, published in April, found people who ate white bread with vinegar felt full up to two hours later, while those who ate just bread started losing their satiety after 30 minutes.
In a study from Arizona State University, the blood sugar spikes of people with type 2 diabetes were 4 percent to 6 percent lower in the morning when participants took two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before going to bed.
Prevention of diabetes In January, a report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology recommended an anti-inflammatory diet including vinegar “should be considered for the primary and secondary prevention of coronary artery disease and diabetes.”
Research from Arizona State University and the University of Lund in Sweden — the only groups known to be investigating apple cider vinegar — has focused on its potential for managing diabetes and hunger.
“I was doing low-carb diets with diabetics. But I came across (apple cider vinegar) and I thought, ‘Wow, no one is talking about this. This could be easier than changing their entire diet,’ ” said Carol Johnston, chairman of the department of nutrition at Arizona State, who has been researching apple cider vinegar since 2000.
In the study, acetic acid — found in any vinegar — controlled blood sugar spikes diabetics experience after a meal or first thing in the morning.
Because these spikes destroy cells that produce insulin, apple cider vinegar and other antiglycemic agents could prevent or delay the onset of the disease for those diagnosed with pre-diabetes — a condition in which blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.
More study needed The few studies that have examined apple cider vinegar’s benefits for other health conditions have been promising, but incomplete.
A 10-year study, published in 1999, found women who ate salad with oil and vinegar five to six times per week had decreased levels of fatal ischemic heart disease, but researchers couldn’t determine the beneficial ingredient.
Others see little need for research when drugs are often more effective. Johnston’s study, for example, found a pre-meal dose of apple cider vinegar lowered diabetics’ blood glucose spikes by 3 percent to 6 percent, but pharmaceutical hypoglycemic agents reduced spikes by 10 percent to 15 percent.
Without more clinical trials and FDA approval, doctors and nutritionists who stick with “evidence-based practices” aren’t likely to discuss a vinegar remedy with patients.
But this just makes people seeking alternative health remedies more determined — convinced the big pharmaceutical companies winnow down consumer options.
“Apple cider vinegar is $5.99 a quart and is one of the most inexpensive ways to keep yourself healthy,” Sisco said.
Sisco added he can tell if he skips a dose.
“If I eat tomato sauce, I have a little heartburn,” he asid. “It’s the No. 1 natural remedy for acid reflux.” Get rid of heartburn use ACV. Bulletin reporter Sharma Howard contributed to this report.