We are well aware that as a Chalkboard reader, making healthy choices are a vital part of your day. From down dogs and chia bowls to urban hikes and oil-pulling, you recognize the importance of the small things and how each little practice during the week adds up to a healthier you overall.
This is one of our favorite simple health tips to add to your arsenal, to further improve your kale-loving way of life: Start drinking apple cider vinegar. The practice of drinking apple cider vinegar is as old as guzzling down castor oil. It is a traditional home remedy that has stood not only the test of time, but also the scrutiny of scientists, proving to be an effective way to improve health in many ways. Benefits include weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and improvement in the symptoms of diabetes. The best part is that including as little as a couple tablespoons into your diet a day can help. Here’s how…
The Gritty Details: Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made from pulverized apples. Unpasteurized ACV contains “mother of vinegar,” which has a strain-like appearance and can make the vinegar look slightly congealed. Apple cider vinegar is made through two fermentation processes. In the first stage of fermentation, the sugars are turned into alcohol. In the second fermentation process the alcohol is converted into vinegar by acetic acid-forming bacteria (acetobacter). This process results in a blend of acetic acid and malic acid. These acids are what gives vinegar its sour taste, as well as its name, “sour wine.” The curative properties of apple cider vinegar are mostly due its naturally-occurring acids. Although counterintuitive, the acidic nature of vinegar has an alkalizing effect on the body once ingested. These acids also increase your body’s absorption of important minerals from the foods you eat, while also slowing down the absorption of sugars.
Digestive Relief: Clinical evidence has shown that apple cider vinegar can help improve digestion if taken before a meal. Being an alkalizing agent, it can ease symptoms of acid reflux and GERD, while also aiding in the breakdown of ingested foods.
Sore Throats and Upper Respiratory Infections: Believed to be anti-bacterial, the use of apple cider vinegar for sore throats and upper respiratory infections is promising. By gargling, many people find pain relief and an expedited recovery from illness.
Alkalize the Body (pH): Apple cider vinegar, along with a plant-based diet, can help alkalize the body. Alkaline tissue means that there is more oxygen in the body, which creates an environment that inhibits the growth of pathogens (fungus, bacteria, parasites). In addition, an alkaline pH helps reduce inflammation, improve bone health, may increase the growth hormone, and buffer toxins.
Improve Skin: The skin is a direct reflection of the health of the gut, so by improving digestion, apple cider vinegar can help the skin as well. Some benefits include relief from acne, eczema, psoriasis, rashes and rosacea.
Blood Sugar: Several studies have found that apple cider vinegar may help to lower blood sugar levels. In 2004, a study cited in the American Diabetes Foundation’s publication Diabetes Care found that taking vinegar before meals significantly increased insulin sensitivity and dramatically reduced the insulin and glucose spikes that occur after meals.
Weight Loss: Research has shown that drinking apple cider vinegar before eating promotes weight loss. In a study, participants took two tablespoons of vinegar prior to two meals a day. After a four-week period, participants lost an average of two pounds, and some lost up to four pounds!
Cardiovascular Health: Due to its acetic acid content, research has shown that apple cider vinegar can lower blood pressure. In another study done in 2006, vinegar directly helped to lower cholesterol in laboratory rats.
Cancer: A few scientific studies have indicated that vinegar may be able to kill or slow the growth of cancer cells. In particular, apple cider vinegar may be effective for esophageal cancer treatment.
Getting it Down: The easiest way to start on your apple cider vinegar regimen is by adding one tablespoon to your water or green juice before each meal. One of our favorite combinations is one tablespoon ACV mixed with Pressed Juicery’s Citrus 1 (lemon, cayenne and filtered water). Apple cider vinegar is also delicious when used in cooking, especially as a dressing like this Raw Creamy Miso Sauce, or in this Hawaiian Pineapple Tahini Salad.
Final Tip: Quality matters. Not all apple cider vinegar is going to help you reach your health goals, so make sure to buy the real deal – organic, unfiltered and unprocessed. And yes, it is the one that looks murky and brown with a floating kombucha-like glob at the bottom. This is the “mother,” the live probiotic-filled portion of the vinegar that holds many of the healing properties. The presence of mother indicates the best quality raw vinegar. This is unlike most commercial vinegars, which are highly denatured through the use of extreme heat and chemical solvents – they are formulated rather than fermented. One of our favorite brands is by Eden Foods: Protected in an amber glass bottle, this ACV contains 5% acetic acid (the healing agent), and a healthy mother.