An apple a day keeps the Doctor away, but does the vinegar?
Many people are familiar with apple cider vinegar and its numerous proclaimed uses, but is it hype or is there something to this “miracle house hold cure-all”? The majority of blog posts on the subject list its variety of uses, with little to no reference to actual studies that clearly explain what it does and why one should incorporate it into their diet. I myself have been aware of its many uses for over 20 years, but didn’t get excited until I started reading the studies associated with this substance! That said, what makes this kitchen cupboard mainstay such a star? Let’s start with the source, the quintessential apple—a true superfood.
Apples come in a ton of varieties and grow across the globe; therefore, they’ve been apart of the vast majority of cultures for centuries. They are not only a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibre, they’re chalked with an array of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Moreover, they are jammed packed with special pigments known as polyphenols which are potent antioxidants. These polyphenols are particularly unique because they are known to have some of the highest free radical quenching activity found within commonly consumed plant foods! This isn’t even the best part, I promise. These unique phenolic compounds have incredible anti-pathogenic activity, meaning they can effectively prevent or wipe out a multitude of infections! Wisdom gave us the adage of eating an apple a day for health and modern research is now helping us fully understand why. So, how do we go from apples to apple cider vinegar? It is quite simple really. Apples are crushed and left to ferment in water, and after about 7 months you have apple cider vinegar. Seeing traditional fermentation methods are gaining traction, it is no wonder that uses for apple cider vinegar are growing in popularity. Fermentation of food was not only used as a preservation method before electricity, it was used to create beneficial bacteria, enzyme and amino acid rich foods that were easier to digest. Further, fermentation is also known to increase various nutrient profiles, literally increasing the concentration of vitamins and minerals! Almost sounds like magic doesn’t it? Now that we have apple cider vinegar, what uses make the most sense?
It has a range of uses, from treating sunburn, to replacing shampoo, but the most important aspects I want to discuss are related to digestion, oxidative stress, immunity and pathogenic overgrowth. Apple cider vinegar is mostly comprised of acetic acid which can be very helpful in aiding digestion—especially acid reflux. Believe or not, acid reflux is due to a lack of stomach acid (high pH), not an excess which is why conventional treatments do not get the root cause. In addition, acid reflux can be linked to a lack of enzymes and beneficial bacteria; therefore it is suggested to take 1tbsp of apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water approximately 10 minutes before meals. This will eliminate the issue while nourishing the body with highly accessible nutrients. This fermented mother load is also rich in catechin and caffeic acid which both demonstrate incredible antioxidant activity; thus having an overall protective affect at a cellular level. The former aids in heart health by preventing the oxidation of plasma and LDL aka bad cholesterol while protecting the liver. The latter, caffeic acid has been shown in vitro studies, to have chemo-prevention and anti-tumor activity. Additionally, it converts to chlorogenic acid which is known to aid in metabolism and stabilization of glucose. Further, it has an array of other phenolic compounds that have been shown to protect neurons from damage.
Last, but not least is my favorite component of apple cider vinegar. Again, due to its rich concentration in acetic acid and other powerful phenolics, it seems to possess the ability to effectively ward off or wipe out pathogens of all kinds. An Italian study used an extract of fermented apple cider and confirmed that is was able demonstrate clear antimicrobial activity over all pathogenic strains used in the experiments. The bacterial strains most affected by the extract were E-coli and Bacillus cereus. It also showed promising results for inhibiting an emerging pathogen known as C.sakazakii. So how exactly do simple pigments achieve this? Remarkably, they are able to disrupt the language of bacteria; therefore affecting their growth and metabolism. Subsequently, phenolics also bond strongly to bacterial cell walls, which allows them to further destroy microbes through a variety of mechanisms. Moreover, this demonstrates clearly why apple cider vinegar is an effective, natural, safe, non-toxic disinfectant for our homes. Because E-coli and other pathogens can contaminate even organic, pesticide free produce, using apple cider vinegar as a sterilizing wash is an excellent idea. The suggested ratio for this is 1tbsp of apple cider vinegar to 1 cup of water. Soak for 5 minutes and mix occasionally. Lastly, only buy organic, raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar with the Mother. This is considered the whole food, therapeutic variety—the real deal.