Type 2 diabetes is a preventable and chronic disease that affects how your body controls sugar (glucose) in your blood. Medications, diet, and exercise are the standard treatments. But recent studies vouch for something you can find in most kitchen cabinets, too: apple cider vinegar.
Over 9 percent of Americans have type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If apple cider vinegar has potential as a natural treatment, that would be good news indeed.
While a number of studies have looked at the link between apple cider vinegar and blood sugar management, they are usually small, and the results have been mixed.
“There have been several small studies evaluating the effects of apple cider vinegar, and the results are mixed,” says Dr. Maria Pena, director of the Center for Weight Management at North Shore-LIJ in Syosset, N.Y.
“For example, there was one small study done in rats showing that apple cider vinegar helped lower LDL and A1C levels. But the limitation to this study is that it was only done in rats, not humans.”
One study from Arizona State University found that taking 20 grams of apple cider vinegar diluted in 40 grams of water, with 1 teaspoon of saccharine, could lower blood sugar after meals. Another found that taking apple cider vinegar before bed helped moderate blood sugar upon waking up. But both studies were small, looking only at 19 and 11 participants, respectively.
Another study that looked at its impact on type 1 diabetes found that apple cider vinegar could actually worsen glycemic control, according to Pena.
“The take-home message is that until a large, randomized control trial is done, it is difficult to ascertain the true benefits of taking apple cider vinegar,” she says.
Apple cider vinegar is considered safe, so if you have diabetes, it may be worth trying. However, Pena says that people who have kidney problems or ulcers should steer clear, and no one should substitute it for their regular medication.
She suggests diluting one teaspoon of the vinegar in water to decrease irritation to the stomach and damage to the teeth, and cautions people who are seeking a cure-all.
Pena recommends the research-backed solution of a healthy diet and regular exercise.
“At the end of the day, the most effective way to prevent and control diabetes is eating a balanced diet low in carbohydrates and high in healthy proteins and fats,” she says. Limit fruit to one to two servings per day, and aim for an overall increase in physical activity.
“People should be wary of any ‘quick fix’ or ‘miracle solution’ to their health care needs, as these suggestions are not usually backed by strong evidence and can lead to more harm than good.”