Since time immemorial, Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has been a beloved home-remedy for a range of ailments. From anti-microbial properties to supporting gut health and weight-loss, there seems to be nothing ACV can't do. Can we add lowering blood sugar and helping to manage diabetes to the list? Let's take a look!
Where Does the Magic Start?
Before we begin, it's essential to understand where ACV's health-boosting properties come from. This helps to identify the exact qualities that link it to blood sugar and diabetes!
After apple juice has been fermented into alcohol using yeast, a handy little bacteria called acetobacter turns that alcohol into acetic acid. This type of acid is singular to ACV, and it's actually thought to be responsible for a wide variety of its health benefits!
In raw, unfiltered ACV, the combination of yeast and bacteria eventually aggregate together to form a floating cloudy mass, known as the Mother. This miracle Mother is also the source of much of ACV's magic: it's probiotic and contains many healthy bacteria.
Beyond acid and bacteria, ACV has a similar profile to apple juice. It's full of B-vitamins and plant-based anti-oxidants. So whether or not it's going to lower your blood sugar, it's definitely worth adding to your diet!
Diabetes: Let's Break it Down
Diabetes is a chronic condition primarily related to the body' inability to manage blood sugar levels. It principally exists in two forms:
Type 1 - the body's immune system attacks the pancreatic cells that produce insulin. Type 1 patients need to take additional insulin to compensate for their body's difficulty synthesising it.
Type 2 - cells become less sensitive to insulin, causing a reduction in glucose absorption. As a result, blood glucose levels remain high, as more glucose is left circulating in the bloodstream.
Diet is an essential consideration in both of these cases. This is because it can significantly impact blood sugar levels and the body's ability to manage them. However, a little help from an old friend never goes amiss!
How Can ACV Help?
The most crucial player in ACV's campaign against diabetes is the acetic acid mentioned above. Before the food even passes your stomach, acetic acid lowers its glycemic index. This means it slows the breakdown of starch into glucose, preventing glucose spikes. Acetic acid is also thought to block the enzymes that break down starch and increase insulin sensitivity, reducing blood-sugar spike after meals. These anti-glycaemic effects generally reduce starch digestion and delay gastric emptying. Cumulatively, these effects add up to reduced blood glucose levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes.
On the other hand, for Type 1 patients, or people struggling with gastroparesis, delayed gastric emptying can be a severe issue. It causes increasingly unpredictable and uncomfortable digestion and makes it harder to time and dose insulin injections.
Taken before or after meals, ACV has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels and cause a notable but slight reduction in glucose levels over eight to twelve weeks. When ingested before bed, ACV significantly reduces fasting blood sugar levels. Overall, ACV might have enough positive effects on blood sugar to warrant inclusion in your diet, even if it's not a miracle cure! However, do check with your doctor first, to make sure it won't interfere with a pre-existing condition such as gastroparesis or kidney disease.
How to Add ACV to Your Diet
The best way to safely add ACV to your daily routine is to dilute 1-2 tbsp in 8 ounces of water, and drink this, no more than once a day, at mealtimes or before bed. This will prevent any acid damage to your oesophagus and mucous membranes!