Health nuts, wellness lovers, and fitness gurus have found common love in apple cider vinegar (ACV)—the new morning health drink. Every morning, you can find them chugging down a glass of apple cider vinegar along with water, seltzer, or in the form of tea—to feel fuller longer, maintain a healthy weight, keep blood sugar under control, or to get their fill of antioxidants, vitamins, calcium, and potassium, all of which are enablers in maintaining good gut health. The glow on your skin from ACV’s cleansing and rejuvenating properties is an added bonus. The best part? A tablespoon of ACV contains ONLY three calories!

How is it made?

In the first stage of making ACV, apples are introduced to yeast, which ferments the sugar present in apples to produce alcohol. More bacterial strains are added to make acetic acid from the alcohol. The sour flavor and strong whiff of pungence you experience on uncorking a bottle of ACV is caused by this acetic acid. The unfiltered organic variant of ACV also contains what is called mother (you can find it on the label of organic ACV)—a probiotic rich in proteins, enzymes, and gut friendly bacteria. It also gives ACV its brownish muddy color.

Gift for the Diabetics

A study found that type 2 diabetes patients who drank two tablespoons of ACV with a light snack for dinner before retiring to bed, recorded lower blood-sugar levels the following morning versus when they had just water along with the same dinner. Yet another study was conducted on people who were healthy, pre-diabetic, and those diagnosed with type-2 diabetes mellitus, where they were given less than an ounce of ACV with a heavy meal. The other group was given the same meal with placebo. The results were similar to that of the first study and blood sugar levels fell in case of ACV group. The patients who were pre-diabetic, saw their blood sugar levels halve and in diabetic patients the blood glucose levels were 25 percent less.

Research suggests that an important way ACV manages diabetes is by helping blood sugar absorption in the body and increasing insulin sensitivity.

Tipping the Weighing Scale in Your Favor

Obesity is a key risk factor for diabetes. Use of ACV in the diet can help fight weight gain by increasing satiety. An animal study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that rats given ACV had 10% less growth in body fat in comparison to rats that were not given any. The study also showed the rats given the ACV showed reduction in inflammation and fat distribution in the body. In Japan, researchers conducted a study on humans to examine the benefits of ACV on human health. As part of the study, three groups of people were made to drink a beverage each day for 12 weeks. One group was given a beverage with an ounce of ACV in it, another group was given half an ounce of ACV in their beverage, and the third group had no ACV in their beverage. By the end of the program, participants who had ACV in their beverage showed reduction in belly fat, lower body weight and body mass index, as well as lower triglycerides.

Having just two tbsps of ACV with water can make you feel full for a long period of time. This additionally helps you curb poor eating habits.

Gut Health

If you were to ask people who drink ACV regularly why they do it, most of them are likely to say for gut health. In the ancient system of healing and wellness, Ayurveda, an important concept is that of Agni or digestive fire. An unhealthy lifestyle, poor diet lacking in sufficient nutrients, or badly timed meals, repressed emotions, and stress can cause one or more doshas (fundamental bio energies) to become aggravated. This leads to an imbalance in Agni or the digestive fire which is responsible for strong digestion. ACV is said to boost digestive fire or agni. Disturbed agni leads to improper digestion and this food that fails to get assimilated in the body turns into sticky toxin that gets stored in the body in the form of Aama. Aama accumulation reduces vitality and health and compromises immunity. If you feel weak and tired for no good reason, it may be time to get aama deposits checked by an Ayurveda physician.

From the Ayurvedic perspective, apple cider vinegar after due fermentation is sour and warm in nature which calms vata but can aggravate pitta and slightly aggravate kapha.

A Probiotic

The mother in organic ACV introduces good bacteria to our guts. A mice study showed that addition of acetic acid to water given to mice with ulcerative colitis helped them increase the presence of good bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in their guts. These bacteria aid digestion and fight symptoms of gastrointestinal diseases.

Manage Blood Pressure

The link between ACV and management of blood pressure is a hormone called renin. Renin, released by our kidneys, controls the constriction and dilation of blood vessels. When the vessels are constricted the blood pressure rises up. ACV helps ease these vessel constrictions and prevents the blood pressure from jumping up.

RECIPE: Apple Cider Vinegar

Sterilize a jar and fill it up with apple peels, pieces, and apple leftovers. Add water in the jar until it fills up the space inside the jar. Cover the top of the jar with a muslin cloth and hold it tightly in its place with a rubber band. Keep the jar in a warm place and let it sit for two weeks. Then, strain the water from the jar into another jar. Repeat the process from above. Cover the top with a muslin cloth and tie it up with a band. Give it four weeks. You will find some residue at the bottom of the jar and your vinegar is ready. Now you can put a lid on the jar and keep it in a cooler place.

You can have about two teaspoons of ACV blended with honey in warm water in the morning to feel revitalized and full. (Experts do not recommend a dosage of more than two teaspoons to a tablespoon per day.) It can also be a wonderful addition of flavor to your salad dressing—blend a tablespoon of ACV and lemon juice, some black pepper, and chopped basil leaves. Drizzle the mixture over salads and beans.

Things to Keep in Mind

Never drink ACV raw or ‘neat.’ Drinking ACV straight from the jar regularly can erode the tooth enamel, damage the esophagus, and lower potassium in the body.

It is also worth remembering that drinking ACV alone every day will not help you tame in your body weight if it is not complemented with other healthy eating practices. It is best supported by practice of yoga, pranayamas, or other forms of workout and dietary and lifestyle interventions for it to show significant results in weight loss, or management of diabetes and hypertension.

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