The juice from pulp pressed apples is called apple juice or sweet apple cider and refers to unfermented apple juice. When this is fermented it is called apple cider, which eventually turns into vinegar, called apple cider vinegar Apple cider vinegar seems to be a common part of the chest of alternative healing remedies. While some take it for weight loss, others take it for health problems such as digestive disorders, aches, pains, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Traditional folk remedies from the past suggest that Hippocrates, known as the Father of Modern Medicine, recommended vinegar for decongesting the respiratory system and treat coughs.
The acidic nature of apple cider vinegar appears to make it a potent remedy. While scientific evidence is weak, its uses are worth exploring.
It is believed that mallic acid in apple cider vinegar has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and may improve bowel irregularities.
Apples are high on nutrients which are retained in cider vinegar. This may be the reason it also helps correct nutritional deficiencies and is recommended as a general tonic.
It is supposed to improve the breakdown and absorption of calcium and therefore is particularly recommended for teeth, nails and arthritis and osteoporosis. Taken with honey or molasses, apple cider vinegar is prescribed for stomach ulcers, colitis, high blood pressure, bowel infections and insomnia.
There is insufficient evidence regarding its benefits on diabetes and weight loss. However, a recent study, published in Bioscience Biotechnology Biochemistry Journal in 2009 and conducted on 175 obese Japanese adults, reported that consumption of 15 ml apple cider vinegar for 12 weeks significantly reduced their weight, triglycerides and body visceral fat.
Proposed mechanism for weight loss and its hypoglycemic effect are firstly delayed gastric emptying which results in hunger reduction. Secondly, the acetic acid present in apple cider vinegar inhibits the activity of several carbohydrate digesting enzymes which results in some sugars and starches temporarily passing through the intestines without being digested.
While, it is acidic in nature, the effect on the body appears to be alkaline. Interestingly, apple cider vinegar has also been used externally to fight skin rashes, eczema, sun burn and tan reduction.
There is robust evidence for several health benefits associated with apple cider vinegar in traditional and folk medicine. However, more scientific studies on its properties, specific amounts, bio-active components and mode of action need to be done to validate these.
Meanwhile, this vinegar made appears safe for most. However, certain things need to be kept in mind when using it. Being acidic in nature, it can cause erosion of dental enamels or mucus membranes if taken undiluted or in large quantities. It may also interfere with certain medicines, especially blood thinners, and may lower potassium levels when you are on diuretic medicines.
Hence, do inform your treating doctor before you start taking. Most recommendations suggest a tablespoon diluted with water, honey or molasses or added to a vegetable juice may help you feel better. Remember to dilute it before consuming. Remember that there is no magic bullet for losing weight or managing lifestyle diseases. Healthy diet and regular physical activity are key to losing weight.
Ishi Khosla is a former senior nutritionist at Escorts. She heads the Centre of Dietary Counselling and also runs a health food store. She feels that for complete well-being, one should integrate physical, mental and spiritual health. According to her: “To be healthy should be the ultimate goal for all.”