Personal Nutrition Guide

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For years, a certain sour pantry staple has made its rounds as a home remedy for everything from blood sugar management to digestion and weight loss. Hint: Some people choose to enjoy it as a one-and-done shot or supplement, while others opt to mix it into sauces and salad dressings. (In addition, some people even apply it topically for inflammatory skin conditions thanks to its antimicrobial properties.) If you’re still scratching your head, the trending tonic is none other than apple cider vinegar, aka ACV. But how effective is it really to yield the aforementioned benefits? And is it always ideal to consume it before a meal?

Keep reading to learn more about the potential of apple cider vinegar health benefits, according to a dietitian and research to date. Plus: pro tips to include the mouth-puckering ingredient in your wellness routine.

Some of the potential health benefits of ACV can be attributed to its influence on blood sugar. “Some studies suggest that consuming before a meal may help improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels after eating, especially in individuals with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes,” explains Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, of Real Nutrition in New York City. However, she notes that evidence shows mixed results.

For instance, a 2014 entry in Nutrition Reviews notes that while several studies demonstrate benefits of ACV in people with ongoing metabolic issues—including a 2023 randomized clinical trial, in which participants with type 2 diabetes improved blood glucose measures and their lipid profile with ACV consumption over eight weeks—others haven’t demonstrated beneficial effects on metabolism in broader populations. However, a 2021 review of nine studies published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies discovered promising results amongst various demographics—including a “significant favorable effect of ACV consumption” on fasting plasma glucose and blood lipid levels in healthy participants.

In short, ACV shows the most promise on this front for individuals with metabolic disruptions, while more conclusive evidence is necessary to make claims for generally healthy people.

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits

Can ACV Help You Lose Weight?

In case you’re seeking a natural solution to promote digestion and manage your weight, having apple cider vinegar before a meal may come to your aid. Effects may vary among individuals, Shapiro says, but it can be worth a (literal) shot.

“With ACV aiding in digestion, consuming it before a meal may lead to less bloating or discomfort after eating,” the dietitian explains. Not only can this help alleviate tummy troubles, but it may also indirectly support weight management goals. “ACV might also influence weight management through its potential to improve blood sugar control, which can help reduce insulin spikes after meals,” she continues. In this case, more stable blood sugar levels can help keep your cravings for high-calorie and less-than-healthful foods at bay, which can end up helping you in your quest to lose weight. (Or, at the very least, it can help you maintain a balanced diet with fewer curveballs.)

But that’s not the only way in which ACV can positively impact your weight goals. As Jennifer Martin-Biggers, PhD, MS, RDN, vice president of scientific affairs and education at HUM, previously explained, “Apple cider vinegar appears to have [beneficial effects on metabolism] via reducing emptying of the stomach to feel full longer and increase feelings of fullness.” She added that it may also help slow down the digestion of carbohydrates, which will also help prevent blood sugar spikes that can throw your metabolic health (and energy levels) off balance.

Some people might also turn to ACV for weight loss as a way to suppress appetite. While this may work for some anecdotally, Shapiro says that the scientific evidence behind this method is limited and inconsistent. (Note: Even if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s crucial to ensure that you still consume balanced, nutritious meals on a consistent basis. Severe restriction—which is neither safe nor sustainable—is never the right way to go. Plus, as we previously covered in our comprehensive guide on how to boost metabolism, yo-yo dieting and drastic calorie cutting can ultimately result in slower metabolism and thus a higher chance of weight gain, rather than weight loss.)

In addition, several studies have investigated the results of ACV on weight loss. For instance, a 2018 study in the Journal of Functional Foods found that ACV intake along with a modest 250-calorie deficit in overweight and obese Japanese participants helped to reduce:

  • Appetite
  • Body weight
  • BMI
  • Hip circumference

However, it’s difficult to assess how much the ACV (versus the calorie restriction, or both) contributed to these results. More studies are also needed in individuals across different weight groups.

How to Take Apple Cider Vinegar

All things considered, apple cider vinegar isn’t a be-all, end-all solution for blood sugar management, digestive health, and weight loss. However, that’s not to say that it’s without merit, as it can still complement your wellness regimen—not to mention add some sour sensation to your palate.

If you want to include ACV in your routine—all the while ensuring safety and supporting efficacy—heed Shapiro’s parting tips below.

Dilute and Dose It Appropriately

There can be too much of a good thing when it comes to taking ACV—especially if you take it on its own. “It’s best to dilute ACV by mixing it with water or another liquid in order to reduce its acidity,” Shapiro shares. Given its high acidity, it has the potential to weaken tooth enamel and/or trigger stomach discomfort or heartburn.

To sidestep these potential pitfalls, Shapiro suggests:

  • Opting for high-quality, organic, and unfiltered ACV
  • Sticking to 1 to 2 teaspoons a day (starting on the lower end and adjusting based on your tolerance) diluted in a liquid
  • Rinsing your mouth with water after consuming ACV to protect your teeth
  • Reducing or ceasing intake if you experience digestive distress

Be Mindful of Timing and Consistency

“Some people prefer to consume ACV before meals to aid in digestion and control blood sugar,” Shapiro reiterates. While this method may prove to be beneficial, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. “Timing depends on the individual, so feel free to experiment,” she continues. As is the case with most healthy habits, consistency over time will yield the best results, and it’s important to avoid expecting miracles after a single try.

Mix It Up

While diluted ACV shots are one way to go to yield the benefits of the health tonic, you’re not limited to them alone. “If you’re not a fan of consuming ACV with water, consider incorporating it into dressings, marinades, or sauces,” Shapiro advises. Moreover, she says that mixing it with honey, lemon, or herbs may make it more palatable—and thus easier to include in your diet consistently—by curbing its potent smell and taste.

Tip: For another way to get ACV into your diet, consider supplementing with HUM’s Pro ACV Gummies. The vegan gummies contain 100 percent organic ACV with The Mother, as well as probiotics for digestive support and vitamin B12 to support cellular energy production.

Consult a Professional

Although the pantry staple may seem innocent enough to enjoy on a daily basis, Shapiro cautions that it may interact with certain medications—namely those for diabetes and heart conditions. As such, she advises consulting a healthcare professional before integrating ACV into your diet if you’re dealing with either health condition or taking meds.

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