Apple cider vinegar has gotten a lot of attention in recent years for possible health-related benefits. While many of these theoretical benefits don’t have much evidence to back them up, there’s a growing body of research that you might find pretty interesting if you’re living with diabetes. The research looks specifically at whether apple cider vinegar could play a role in blood sugar regulation – and the findings suggest it might be a beneficial tool in your diabetes management plan. Since these studies have emerged, many of my clients have come to me asking whether this is just a trend or truly something worth paying attention to. Here are some of their commonly asked questions and my responses based on latest findings:
What is apple cider vinegar and how could it help me manage my diabetes?
Apple cider vinegar is a juice made from crushed apples that has been fermented until it reaches a more acidic state. Most commonly seen in vinaigrettes or marinades, this vinegar is called for in many healthy recipes and can be found in a wide variety of food products. Due to its fermentation process, apple cider vinegar contains a generous dose of probiotics, or “friendly” bacteria that has been shown to support healthy digestion. Some studies have looked at the role of gut bacteria in metabolic diseases and have found that there may be a considerable association between the lack of healthy bacteria in the gut and incidence of disease, such as type 2 diabetes. This has led many researchers to believe that increasing the amount of probiotics in one’s diet, from foods like apple cider vinegar, may be particularly beneficial in the prevention and management of metabolic diseases.
Other research suggests that just a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day can help to improve insulin sensitivity after meals and even prevent spiking blood glucose levels in the early morning, also known as the “dawn phenomenon”. Much of this may be attributed to the high levels of acetic acid and chromium in apple cider vinegar, which have been shown to improve insulin resistance in many individuals.
How do I use apple cider vinegar?
There’s no need to swig vinegar by the spoonful to get its rewarding benefits. Try mixing apple cider vinegar with a bit of olive oil, lemon juice and a crack of pepper for a light salad dressing. Add a couple of tablespoons into your daily smoothie for a boost in probiotics with a subtle taste or try using it with herbs and spices as a marinade.
Keep in mind that heating the vinegar can kill a lot of the valuable bacteria, so eating it in its natural state is probably best. And as with any food, moderation is important. Many of the studies that found positive associations between drinking apple cider vinegar and improved insulin sensitivity only gave their subjects as much as two tablespoons of the vinegar at a time. And often the vinegar was diluted in a less acidic solution, like water.
While there are benefits to incorporating apple cider vinegar into a healthy lifestyle, it is by no means a cure-all solution to managing diabetes. It should never take the place of medications unless specifically recommended by your physician and medically supervised.
Are there risks involved with eating or drinking apple cider vinegar?
Although there are few risks associated with regularly drinking/eating apple cider vinegar in moderate amounts, there may be a few factors to take into consideration. Due to its acidity, apple cider vinegar does have the potential to damage tooth enamel if taken too often or in large amounts. Vinegar may also interact with certain medications if taken regularly, so it is highly recommended you speak with your doctor before using apple cider vinegar as a medicinal treatment for diabetes.
Should apple cider vinegar be a part of my diabetes management plan?
When used in moderation, apple cider vinegar can be an easy addition to your diabetes management plan, specifically if you already have a strong foundation in healthy diet and physical activity. That said, you should always speak with your doctor before making changes to your care plan, especially when taking medication.