A Spoonful of Vinegar Helps the Sugar Go Down
Just before Christmas, my husband was out of town on business and my two young sons were exuberantly awaiting Santa. With so much left to do for the holiday, I couldn't let a sore throat and sinus congestion keep me down. I needed a cure, but didn't have time to go to the doctor, so I went online in search for a home remedy. I stumbled upon a fantastic website called earthclinic.com. It is a repository of anecdotal information regarding folk remedies and holistic cures.
I was amazed to find Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) combined with a spoonful of honey, a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of cayenne pepper, would ease my sore throat and sinuses (it worked!). But, I was more intrigued by the number of postings from people who use ACV to control their blood sugar. Like many of you with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), I am insulin resistant. I can't tolerate Metformin, so I'm always looking for ways to control my blood sugar through diet, exercise and supplements like cinnamon and chromium.
Before I embarked on a new regimen, I wanted to see if there was any scientific data to support all of the positive ACV testimonials. I did discover that in ancient Greece, around 400 BC, Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, prescribed apple cider vinegar mixed with honey for a variety of ills, including coughs and colds. (1)
With further investigation, I found that Professor Carol Johnston, PhD has been working on the subject of vinegar and diabetes with her research team from the Department of Nutrition at Arizona State University. Her studies have recently shown that drinking apple cider vinegar slows the rise of blood sugar after the consumption of a high-carbohydrate meal. (2)
In Dr Johnston's initial study, 29 people had orange juice and a bagel for breakfast, which contained a total of 87 grams of carbohydrates. Two minutes before the meal, half of the subjects were given 20 grams (about 4 tsp) of apple cider vinegar mixed with 40 grams water and 1 tsp saccharine. The other half were given a placebo drink. A cross over trial was conducted a week later, at which time the placebo group received the vinegar. The participants' blood sugar levels were measured before and after the breakfast. They were classified into 3 separate groups:
- 10 people with type 2 diabetes
- 11 people with insulin resistance
- 8 healthy control individuals
Although all three groups in the study had better blood readings after meals begun with vinegar "cocktails," the people with insulin resistance experienced a 34% reduction in their blood sugar levels after the meal. Those with type 2 diabetes experienced blood sugar levels reduced by 19%. The researchers reported in the January 2004 issue of Diabetes Care that the vinegar had an effect on the volunteers' blood sugar comparable to what might be expected from diabetic drugs, such as Metformin.
Based on these results and two other recent studies, (see references 3 & 4), Dr. Johnston thinks that the vinegar tonic interferes with the absorption of high-carbohydrate foods which reduces the blood sugar rise that normally occurs after a meal. She states in her findings that, "The acetic acid in vinegar may inhibit enzymes that digest starch so that carbohydrate molecules aren't available for absorption and are eliminated as fecal matter." She suspects that the acetic acid is the anti-diabetic ingredient in the vinegar.
The researchers suggest that you take 2 Tbsp of raw, unfiltered organic ACV in 8oz of water before every meal. Earthclinic.com also advises that you drink the vinegar "cocktail" through a straw and rinse your mouth with water afterward to protect your teeth enamel. I have to admit it was difficult to swallow the first few times but you get used to the taste.
I guess the end justifies the means as I have been perfectly healthy since December and remarkably, my carbohydrate and sugar cravings are gone. And as an added bonus, I have lost a bit of weight too. I believe Hippocrates was definitely onto something.
– Amy Medling
(2) Johnston C, Kim C, Buller A: Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or diabetes. Diabetes Care 27:281-282, 2004
(3) White A, Johnston C: Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care 30:2814-2815, 2007