There are scientific claims that apple cider vinegar, called ACV for short, may be useful in lowering blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a chronic disease which occurs when the body loses the ability to produce enough insulin needed to process glucose or sugar in the bloodstream.
It may also develop if the body is unable to efficiently use the insulin produced. This condition is called insulin resistance.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced in the pancreas and helps the body move, store, and convert sugar to energy. People who are insulin resistant are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The body’s inability to convert sugar into energy fast enough as well as insulin resistance result in a rise of sugar in the bloodstream, diabetes symptoms, and weight gain.
To have some semblance of a normal life, type 2 diabetics are usually prescribed medication to help manage these symptoms.
Symptoms of Diabetes
Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death among Americans with 79,535 recorded deaths in 2015. This is according to the American Diabetes Association which also reported that, in 2015, 30.3 million adults had diabetes while another 84.1 million were prediabetics.
This emphasizes why it is so important for you to manage this condition carefully to reduce the symptoms and prevent health complications.
Common diabetes symptoms are:
- Excessive thirst
- Frequent urination
- Increased hunger
- Blurry vision
- Slow healing cuts or sores
- Unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
Diabetics may be prescribed drugs such as metformin, sulfonylurea, or insulin to manage their symptoms.
While these or other drugs may be necessary in certain cases, studies show that apple cider vinegar may help lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics and stimulate insulin production in prediabetics or insulin-resistant patients.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
“Apple cider vinegar and diabetes” has been trending online ever since word spread claiming that ACV can play a useful role in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
It has long been the belief that this vinegar helps with weight loss, cold symptoms, and other health conditions. Many are backed by scientific studies.
So what really is apple cider vinegar?
Vinaigre, French for “vinegar” means sour wine. Apple cider vinegar is a sour liquid that has a high concentration of acetic acid. It is made from fermenting the sugar in crushed apples to make alcohol. Bacteria is then added to the solution which is further fermented to produce acetic acid.
The acid gives ACV its sour taste.
Using Apple Cider Vinegar to Manage Diabetes
Scientific researchers believe that apple cider vinegar may be useful in lowering blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes by reducing the rate at which glucose is produced and absorbed by the body.
Diabetes symptoms may also improve as a result.
Blood sugar usually spikes immediately after eating a meal rich in carbohydrates and then declines.
In non-diabetics, insulin usually takes care of processing the sugar and storing it for energy instead of allowing it to sit in the bloodstream.
The case is different in diabetics and people at risk of the disease. Instead, glucose will linger longer in the bloodstream increasing absorption by the body and leading to hyperglycemia or high blood sugar.
Preventing Blood Sugar Spikes
To confirm or debunk the apple cider vinegar and diabetes claims, scientific research was conducted in humans to test the ability of apple cider to lower blood glucose.
Diabetics, pre-diabetics, and persons with neither conditions were part of the studies. Blood sugar lowered significantly when people in these three groups consumed less than one ounce of apple cider vinegar after eating a carbohydrate-rich meal.
The researchers concluded that the acetic acid in this sour liquid may be responsible for slowing down the rate at which complex carbohydrates, e.g, white rice or white bread, were converted into sugar in the bloodstream.
Incidentally, this mechanism of action is believed to be similar to the way diabetic drugs work. However, ACV does not cause the side effects of traditional diabetes mediation.
Furthermore, another study done in type 2 diabetics found that consuming 2 tablespoons of this vinegar before bedtime along with a snack containing cheese helps lower morning blood sugar.
Fasting blood glucose is typically measured first thing in the morning or after going about 8 hours without food or drink.
It provides critical clues about how the body manages the level of sugar in the bloodstream. Elevated levels of fasting blood sugar or morning blood glucose indicate that your body is not lowering sugar levels as it should.
One other significant factor that came out in these studies is that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar helps to stimulate insulin production in prediabetics troubling with insulin resistance.
This information plus fasting blood glucose tests can be useful in helping prediabetics prevent type 2 diabetes.
Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar for Treating Type 1 Diabetes?
Naturally, people with type 1 diabetes are also interested in how the apple cider vinegar and diabetes claims can help them manage their condition.
However, scientific findings reveal that ACV can be harmful to this group of diabetics.
Apple cider vinegar apparently slows the rate of digestion causing food to remain much longer in the stomach.
When digestion is compromised this way it makes it hard for the body to regulate blood glucose, especially if you already trouble with gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis is a condition that commonly affects people with diabetes. It prevents the stomach from efficiently moving food to the small intestine.
Patients with this condition often experience nausea, vomiting, or sluggishness following a meal.
Apple Cider Vinegar Recipes
You may include apple cider vinegar in your diet by using it in your salads, soups, marinades, or meat and fish seasonings.
Here are three apple cider vinegar recipes that may help you keep blood sugar levels in check before or after a meal, or at bedtime:
Apple Cider Vinegar and Water
Mix 2 tablespoons ACV into one 8 ounce glass of water. Take the solution along with 1 ounce of cheese before bedtime. You may use a drinking straw to prevent acid from the vinegar from tarnishing the enamel of your teeth.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey
Make a solution using 2 tablespoons of ACV and 1 tablespoon of honey. The sweet taste of honey helps to offset the sour taste of the vinegar and may be more tolerable for those who do not like the taste of ACV. Drink after a meal.
Apple Cider Vinegar and Cinnamon
Take 1 tablespoon of ACV, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon Stevia and mix them to make a solution. Drink after a meal.
Stevia is a sugar alternative that does not raise blood sugar compared to table sugar which raises the body’s glycemic index.
Cinnamon may also assist in lowering fasting glucose levels.
Other Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar can be found in the supermarket aisles in both pasteurized and unpasteurized forms. Unpasteurized ACV, also called unfiltered or unrefined vinegar, contains the “Mother” which means the natural enzymes, proteins, and good bacteria are retained.
Although retaining the Mother gives the liquid a cloudy appearance, it helps preserve the vinegar’s nutritional value.
One recommended way to consume apple cider vinegar is to dilute 1-2 tablespoons of the liquid in 8 ounces of water.
Many health watchers use the vinegar in salads or drink the diluted solution about five minutes before a meal.
Some of the suggested health benefits of apple cider vinegar include the following:
- Aids digestion
- Reduces belly fat
- Lowers cholesterol
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
- Assists in weight loss
- Can prevent blood sugar spikes
- Kills bacteria
- May improve acne
- Can treat certain fungal infections, e.g. nail infection
- Treats ear infection and lice infestation
- May protect against cancer
- Used as a preservative to prevent bacterial growth
Tips and Precautions
These tips and precautions may help you get a positive experience out of treating diabetes with apple cider vinegar:
- ACV may be used by patients with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes.
- Do not use apple cider vinegar if you have type 1 diabetes.
- Always use the vinegar as recommended a few minutes before or after a meal or at bedtime.
- Do not consume undiluted vinegar as it could cause nausea or heartburn, irritate the stomach lining, or damage the tooth’s enamel.
- Consider using a drinking straw and rinsing your mouth after drinking the solution to prevent damage to the teeth.
When used correctly, ACV could help control blood sugar and improve diabetes symptoms.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through a balanced diet suitable for diabetics, exercise, getting quality sleep, and managing stress are other ways to manage diabetes.
There is scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar can help lower blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes and stimulate insulin production in prediabetics.
Introducing apple cider vinegar into your life along with exercise and a natural diet is a great way to combat type 2 diabetes.
At the same time, it can be harmful to those with type 1 diabetes and is not recommended for use.
Always check with your healthcare provider first.