There is no denying the fact that diabetes can be painful and downright difficult to manage regardless of which type you have. Diabetes is a chronic disease that affects the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose, making foods that have processed grains, that are high in sodium, and loaded with processed sugar and artificial sweeteners extremely difficult for the body to process. The good news is that there are foods available that can actually help control diabetes. One of them is something you probably already keep stocked in your cupboards – apple cider vinegar.
So, what makes apple cider vinegar ideal? Let’s delve into the ways that apple cider vinegar impacts insulin and provides health benefits for those with diabetes.
How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Impact Insulin?
Using apple cider vinegar for diabetes might seem like a strange concept, but studies are now showing that even small, regular doses of apple cider vinegar can have a positive influence on the body’s lipid profile, fasting blood glucose, and glycated hemoglobin. It also benefits the body’s cholesterol levels.
Since those with Type 2 diabetes have bodies that cannot adequately produce insulin and those with Type 1 cannot produce it at all, their bodies fail to regulate their blood sugar levels. For a long time, those with Type 2 diabetes have been instructed to eat meals that are high in the right carbohydrates since this can help to spike blood sugar levels. However, one study found that using just 20 grams of apple cider vinegar (mixed with 1 teaspoon of saccharine and 40 grams of water) improved insulin sensitivity in those with insulin resistance. There is also evidence to suggest that consuming apple cider vinegar before bed helps to regulate fasting blood glucose levels.
One of the reasons that using apple cider vinegar for diabetes management is effective appears to be that there is acetic acid in the vinegar. Acetic acid is a weak and simple member of the carboxylic acid group. It is actually the primary constituent found in vinegar and is what makes vinegar taste and smell the way it does. It is essentially why vinegar has been used in folk medicine for such a long time, even though science does not yet fully understand the mechanics of how it works.
Acetic acid seems to actually postpone gastric emptying in individuals who have Type 1 diabetes or who do not have diabetes at all. In those with Type 2 diabetes, acetic acid appears to impede the functioning of disaccharidase (enzymes which break down complex sugars in the small intestine) and subdue the absorption of carbohydrates that you get from eating your food. As a result, it seems that acetic acid is the core component of apple cider vinegar that is responsible for improving insulin sensitivity in those with diabetes.
Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Just what exactly are the benefits of using apple cider vinegar for diabetes management? Clearly, the increase in insulin sensitivity is the biggest benefit. The organic, darker colored brands of apple cider vinegar contain something called “mother”, which is a powerful combination of bacteria, enzymes, and protein strands that provide extra nutritional benefits.
With that being said, it is crucial to understand more of the benefits of using apple cider vinegar for diabetes as well as other chronic health issues.
- It can kill off bad bacteria and promotes gut health.
Apple cider vinegar is loaded with acetic acid, which is rich in good bacteria. Because of its contents, apple cider vinegar is able to fend off numerous nasty pathogens, including multiple types of harmful bacteria. When used to preserve food, vinegar works to inhibit the growth of bad bacteria like e. Coli.
The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once stated that all diseases begin in the gut, and there seems to be some truth to this hypothesis. The human gut plays host to both helpful and harmful types of bacteria. The more good gut bacteria you have in your digestive tract, the better you will be able to digest the food you eat. The opposite is also true: The more bad bacteria you have living in your gut, the more you are likely to experience digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Since apple cider vinegar contains fermented apples, it is rich in a substance called pectin. Pectin helps healthy bacteria grow inside of the gut. It also works to lower inflammatory responses in the intestines and help firm up loose stool.
Since those with diabetes are particularly prone to diabetic gastroparesis (a delay in the emptying of food content from the stomach), consuming apple cider vinegar on a daily basis can help improve gut functioning. Of course, since it is acidic and can wear down tooth enamel, you will want to dilute your apple cider vinegar in a beverage of your choice. It tends to mix well with apple juice, apple cider, and lightly sweetened ice tea.
- Apple cider vinegar aids in weight loss and control.
Weight gain is a major worry for those with either type of diabetes. Of course, with Type 2 diabetes, obesity can be a risk factor for developing the disease. Therefore, even if you do not have diabetes but are struggling with controlling your weight, apple cider vinegar might be useful for you.
Vinegar, as multiple studies have shown, works at increasing the feeling of satiety. In other words, you might find yourself feeling fuller faster than normal. When consumed with a meal that is high in carbs, you might find yourself eating several hundred calories less per day because your feeling of satiety is more sustained.
Additionally, one study found that, when vinegar was taken with a meal consisting of white bread, it actually lowered postprandial responses (the responses that occur during and after a meal) of both insulin and blood glucose. This significant find certainly suggests that using apple cider vinegar for diabetes has immediate and enduring effects.
- It might help to prevent cancer.
Diabetes is, on its own, a nightmare of a disease to deal with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, those with diabetes (especially Type 2) are at further risk for developing certain types of cancer, including breast and pancreatic cancer. Hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and inflammation all seem to provide a common link between diabetes and the development of cancer. Apple cider vinegar is packed with antioxidants, which work at reducing oxidative damage in cells that are caused by free radicals (uncharged molecules that might cause cancer and definitely cause inflammation).
Luckily, it appears that apple cider vinegar has some ability to shrink down tumorous cells and even kill off dangerous cancer cells by up to 62%. While these tests have only been done on rats or inside of test tubes, further studies could show that apple cider vinegar helps to fend off cancer in human beings.
- Apple cider vinegar can improve heart health and reduce LDL cholesterol.
Having diabetes puts you at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This makes you more likely than those who do not have diabetes to experience a stroke or heart attack. Sadly, heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and is something that can be prevented.
Studies have shown that acetic acid can lower triglyceride and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels. In studies done on rats, apple cider vinegar has been shown to lower blood pressure, which can thereby reduce the likelihood of developing renal issues and heart disease. Since apple cider vinegar has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and diminish blood sugar levels in human test subjects, the chance for developing heart disease while also having diabetes should be lower.
- Apple cider vinegar can help relieve inflammation.
Many people battle inflammation, and it is one of the most persistent underlying symptoms found in those with either type of diabetes. Those with Type 2 diabetes are especially prone to experiencing inflammation since their bodies do not make enough insulin or use it properly. Insulin has an impact on bodily tissues and the fat cells that lead to an excess storage of fat, resulting in obesity.
Inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines tend to be found in higher concentrations in the fat tissue of those with diabetes than with those who do not have the disease. The more fat the body stores, the less sensitive it becomes to insulin, and that insulin resistance ends up leading to widespread bodily inflammation.
Apple cider vinegar fights off the inflammation that happens in the body, especially in the gut. All of its vitamins and antioxidants are able to fend off the free radicals that can add on to the inflammation you experience. Since apple cider vinegar is able to help your body better absorb iron, it can further aid you in getting rid of inflammation. For those who are dealing with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes or who are at risk of developing it, it is important to know that there is a connection between iron overload and the development of diabetes. Therefore, keeping your iron levels in check is crucial to combating the symptoms of diabetes.