A really great article on apple cider vinegar by Dr. Joseph Mercola is the inspiration for this blog post (and I excerpted a lot of his article here). But I had  to do a bit of searching as many sources cite this first 2004 study – but no one (not even Mercola) gave the dosage! In the original study, the dosage was given in grams (of all things!) which is not really helpful. However, I have done the math for you and worked out that the 20 gram apple cider vinegar (ACV) dose is equivalent to roughly 1 and a half tablespoons.

The other odd thing about the original study is that the test meal they gave participants after the ACV dose was a white bagel, butter, and orange juice! Could you have a more sugar-laden meal for a diabetic?? So the fact that the ACV had such positive results on their glucose levels after such an unhealthy, sugar-heavy meal makes it even more impressive! So here we go…

In 2004, a study cited in the American Diabetes Foundation’s publication Diabetes Care found that taking apple cider vinegar (1.5 tablespoons mixed in 1/4 cup water) before meals significantly increased insulin sensitivity and dramatically reduced the insulin and glucose spikes that occur after meals. The study also added artificial saccharin as a sweetener to the ACV and water, but I would recommend you use natural Stevia instead.

The study involved 29 people, divided into three groups:

  • One-third had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
  • One-third had pre-diabetic signs.
  • One-third were healthy.

The results were quite significant:

All three groups had better blood glucose readings with the ACV (apple cider vinegar) than with the placebo.

People with pre-diabetic symptoms benefited the most from the ACV, cutting their blood glucose concentrations by nearly half.

People with diabetes improved their blood glucose levels by 25 percent with vinegar.

People with pre-diabetic symptoms had lower blood glucose than the healthy participants after both drank vinegar.

A follow-up study geared at testing vinegar’s long-term effects yielded an unexpected but pleasant side effect: moderate weight loss. In this study, participants taking two tablespoons of vinegar prior to two meals per day lost an average of two pounds over the four-week period, and some lost up to four pounds.

In 2007, another study cited by WebMD involving 11 people with type 2 diabetes found taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before bed lowered glucose levels in the morning by 4 to 6 percent.

How Should Apple Cider Vinegar Be Used?

There are no official guidelines about taking vinegar internally. Some people take one to two teaspoons a day, mixed in a glass of water or juice, before meals or in the morning, and report benefits from doing so. The risk of taking small amounts of apple cider vinegar seems low.

If you are diabetic, then you may want to experiment with taking your ACV before all your meals – maybe your body only needs one dosage per day, or maybe you do best with two or three. Just make sure you take it on an empty stomach and then about 10-15 minutes later, eat your meal.

If you tend towards heartburn, I would be very careful about taking ACV (apple cider vinegar) before bed – that may not work well for you.

And if you have IBD or stomach ulcers, then test a very small amount to begin with (start at 1/4 tsp mixed in 1 cup water) and gradually increase over time and see how your body responds. But be very careful as ACV is acidic! It is composed mainly of acetic acid – which can trigger bleeding if your mucosal lining in your intestines or stomach is already damaged.

I would definitely be sure I was taking my Natren probiotics daily as well (but not at the same time as ACV) as these therapeutic probiotics provide a protective effect along with improving digestion and absorption.

Apple cider vinegar makes a delightful salad dressing. You can even make a vinegar-based coleslaw, rather than the usual creamy mayonnaise-based one. It is good on fish as well and serves as a great tenderizing marinade for meat, giving it a bit of zing. And it’s tasty drizzled over cooked greens.

If you are considering taking it medicinally, there are some things to keep in mind:

Apple cider vinegar is highly acidic. The main ingredient is acetic acid, which is quite harsh. You should always dilute it with water or juice before swallowing. Pure, straight apple cider vinegar could damage your tooth enamel or the tissues of your mouth and throat. There is, in fact, one reported incident of long-term esophageal damage to a woman who got an apple cider vinegar supplement capsule stuck in her throat.

Long-term excessive use could conceivably cause low potassium levels and lower bone density.

Apple cider vinegar could theoretically interact with diuretics, laxatives, and medicines for diabetes and heart disease.

If you are under the care of a physician and you want to try a course of apple cider vinegar, talk to your doctor first to make sure it won’t interfere with any of the medications you are presently on.

How Does ACV Work?

Even though it is devoid of many of the traditionally valued nutrients, evidence of apple cider vinegar’s health benefits has been witnessed for hundreds — maybe thousands — of years.

So, what can explain this mysteriously beneficial elixir?

It could be partially related to the fact that vinegar is a diluted acid, specifically acetic acid, which is responsible for its sour taste and pungent smell. The pH changes it induces may contribute to some of its actions.

Some of the dramatic benefits may also be derived from yet-to-be-identified phytochemicals (beneficial compounds in plants) that scientists are now discovering in a number of different foods. In fact, many of your strongest weapons against cancer are the phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables.

One thing that apple cider vinegar is high in is acetic acid. Like other acids, acetic acid can increase your body’s absorption of important minerals from the foods you eat. Therefore, it is possible that drinking a mild tonic of vinegar and water just before meals might improve your body’s ability to absorb the essential minerals locked in foods. Apple cider vinegar might help you get more out of your leafy greens!

How can apple cider vinegar help regulate your insulin?

One theory is that it might inactivate some of the digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates into sugar, thus slowing absorption of sugar from a meal into your bloodstream. This gives your body more time to pull sugar out of your blood, preventing your sugar levels from spiking.

Make Sure It’s Murky!

acv-mother.jpgWhen purchasing an apple cider vinegar, you’ll want to avoid the perfectly clear, “sparkling clean” varieties you commonly see on grocery store shelves. Instead, you want organic, unfiltered, unprocessed apple cider vinegar, which is murky and brown.

When you try to look through it, you will notice a cobweb-like substance floating in it. This is known as “mother” and it indicates your vinegar is of good quality.

The reason manufacturers distill vinegar is to remove this rather murky looking stuff that most folks won’t buy. But in this case, it’s the murky looking stuff you want. As with everything else, the more processed a food is, the less nutritious, and this holds true for apple cider vinegar.

Make It Delicious!

Brittany Mullins created this recipe to turn ACV into something she looks forward to drinking every morning:

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 Tablespoons all natural apple juice
6 ounces of cold water
4 drops of vanilla liquid stevia
sprinkle of cinnamon
1-2 cubes of ice

Instructions (serves 1):
Combine all ingredients in a cup and stir or shake to combine. Taste and add more stevia if necessary. Serve chilled or over ice.

Now, if that’s too complicated for you, just add 1.5 – 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to a cup of water sweetened with either honey or stevia – and bottoms up! Take on an empty stomach and then eat your meal.