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Apple Cider Vinegar - A Quick Look at the Science

Apple Cider Vinegar - A Quick Look at the Science

If you have seen my previous blogs you will know that I’m always looking for natural and inexpensive health-promoting products to recommend to my patients. Today I want to touch on Apple Cider Vinegar.

What is it?

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) is made by fermenting apple cider. Here’s a general overview of the process:

  • The apple juice is then placed in a container and allowed to ferment. During this process, yeast and bacteria naturally present on the apples and in the air consume the sugars in the juice and convert them into alcohol.
  • After the alcohol fermentation is complete, a second fermentation process takes place where acetic acid bacteria convert the alcohol into acetic acid.
  • The acetic acid gives the vinegar its characteristic sour taste and pungent odour.

Some commercial producers also pasteurise the vinegar to extend its shelf life, but this can destroy some of the beneficial enzymes and bacteria that make the vinegar healthy.

What does ACV contain?

Apple cider vinegar contains several key nutrients and beneficial compounds. Here are some of the main components:

  • Water: Apple cider vinegar is mostly water, which makes up about 90–95% of its volume.
  • Vitamins and minerals: Apple cider vinegar contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, calcium, and vitamin C.
  • Polyphenols: These are plant-based antioxidants that may help protect the body against damage from free radicals. E.g. Gallic acid, catechin, caffeic acid, and ferulic acid.
  • Enzymes: Raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar contains enzymes that can aid in digestion and improve gut health.
  • Probiotics: Some types of apple cider vinegar contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can help support a healthy gut microbiome.

What is it claimed to do?

There are several reported health benefits of consuming apple cider vinegar, which include improved digestion, weight loss, and improved skin health. Some of these claims require further research, but today I want to focus on a piece of solid research which demonstrates clear and measurable health benefits from consuming ACV.

The research was a review (meta analysis) published in 2021 which looked at 9 published studies. It concluded that regular ACV consumption significantly reduced the following blood markers;

  1. Fasting plasma glucose
  2. HbA1C

Why is this significant?

  • Your fasting plasma glucose level is important because it measures the amount of sugar (glucose) in your blood after you have not eaten for several hours. However, if your body doesn’t produce enough insulin or your cells don’t respond to insulin properly, glucose can build up in your blood, leading to high blood sugar levels. This in turn can over time damage your organs and increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and can increase your risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and other health problems.
  • As for HbA1C, which is also known as glycated haemoglobin, this is a blood test that measures the average level of blood sugar (glucose) over the past 2–3 months. When glucose enters the bloodstream, it binds to haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen. The higher the amount of glucose in the blood, the more glucose binds to haemoglobin. HbA1C reflects the amount of glucose that has been bound to haemoglobin over the past few months, providing an overall picture of your blood sugar levels.
  • A high HbA1C level indicates that blood sugar levels have been consistently high over time, which can increase the risk of developing complications such as nerve damage, kidney damage, and eye damage. A lower HbA1C level indicates better blood sugar control and a lower risk of complications.

So there you have it — regular consumption of ACV can help reduce key blood markers associated with a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stoke.

How much should you take?

The research paper noted that a daily dose of 15ml (1 tablespoon) was effective.

As ACV is mildly acidic, it’s important to note that apple cider vinegar should be consumed in moderation and diluted with water or another liquid to prevent damage to the teeth and throat. Additionally, people with certain medical conditions, such as low potassium levels or osteoporosis, should consult with a doctor before consuming apple cider vinegar regularly.

What type of ACV is best?

When choosing an apple cider vinegar, it’s important to look for one that is raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurised. This type of vinegar contains “the mother,” a cloudy substance made up of beneficial enzymes and bacteria that can provide health benefits. Here are some tips for selecting the best apple cider vinegar:

  • Choose organic apple cider vinegar: This can help ensure that the apples used to make the vinegar were grown without the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals.
  • Check the acidity level: The acidity level of apple cider vinegar is measured by its pH, with lower pH levels indicating higher acidity. It’s generally recommended to choose a vinegar with a pH of around 4–5% for best results.
  • Read the label: Some apple cider vinegar products may contain added sugars, artificial flavours, or other ingredients. Be sure to read the label and choose a product that contains only apple cider vinegar and water.
  • Overall, the best type of apple cider vinegar is one that is raw, unfiltered, unpasteurised, organic, and free of added sugars and artificial ingredients.

Buy Local!

It so happens that if you live in Sussex, UK there is a locally produced Apple Cider Vinegar that ticks all the above boxes. Brambletye Fruit Farm near Forest Row produces an amazing Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar which I have been consuming for a couple of years. I know the farm owners personally and they take great care and pride in all of their products.

he farm sells their produce all over London at different markets. If you want to track down some of their Apple Cider Vinegar, you can see their market schedule here.

You can also buy their Apple Cider Vinegar locally at the excellent Plaw Hatch Farm Shop in Sharpthorne, near Forest Row, East Sussex.

Cliff Russell — Registered Osteopath — East Grinstead

Author: Cliff Russell - Registered Osteopath

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