For thousands of years, vinegar has been used around the world to flavor and preserve foods, heal wounds, prevent infections, clean surfaces, and even treat diabetes. In the past, people touted vinegar as a cure-all that could treat anything from poison ivy to cancer.
Today, apple cider vinegar (ACV) is among the many miracle foods that the internet is buzzing about. There’s a lot of information out there claiming that ACV can treat high blood pressure, acid reflux, diabetes, psoriasis, obesity, headaches, erectile dysfunction, and gout.
The scientific community, however, is skeptical about the curative powers of vinegar. Read on to learn more.
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple cider. Fresh apple cider is made from the juice of crushed and pressed apples. A two-step fermentation process turns it into vinegar.
First, yeast is added to speed up the natural fermentation process. During yeast fermentation, all the natural sugars in the cider turn into alcohol. Next, an acetic acid bacteria takes over and converts the alcohol into acetic acid, which is the main component of vinegar. The whole process can take several weeks.
This long fermentation process allows for the accumulation of a layer of slime composed of yeast and acetic acid. This goo is a collection of enzymes and protein molecules known as the “mother” of vinegar. In commercially produced vinegar, the mother is always filtered out. But the mother has special nutritional benefits. The only way to buy vinegar that still contains its mother is to buy raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar.
Gout, which is a complex form of arthritis, can affect anyone. It occurs when uric acid builds up in the body and then crystalizes in the joints. It causes sudden attacks of severe pain, redness, and tenderness in the affected joints. Gout often affects the joint at the base of your big toe. During a gout attack, you may feel like your big toe is on fire. It can become hot, swollen, and so tender that even the weight of a sheet is unbearable.
Fortunately, there are several medications available that can help treat and prevent gout attacks. Unfortunately, many of these medications have serious side effects.
Alternative gout treatments, such as apple cider vinegar, could potentially help reduce the likelihood of future attacks without burdening you with unnecessary side effects.
ACV does have many general benefits. They include the following:
- Components of apple cider vinegar include acetic acid, potassium, vitamins, mineral salts, amino acids, and other healthy organic acids.
- A study in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found that vinegar lowered the blood pressure of hypertensive rats.
- Vinegar is a dietary source of polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that, according to an article in Ontology, may reduce the risk of cancer in humans.
- Research published in the Journal of Diabetes Research suggests that vinegar helps people with type 2 diabetes use their insulin more effectively, improving post-meal blood sugar levels.
- Because it works to increase insulin sensitivity, vinegar could help prevent type 2 diabetes in high-risk individuals.
- Vinegar has antimicrobial properties.
- ACV contains good bacteria that improve the bacteria colonies in the gut biome and improve immune functioning.
- French researchers found that apple cider vinegar helped protect rats from obesity-related problems like high blood cholesterol and high blood glucose.
pH levels and implications for gout
A recent Japanese study of acidity levels in urine came to some interesting conclusions. Researchers found that acid in the urine prevents the body from properly excreting uric acid.
Urine that is less acidic (more alkaline) carries more uric acid out of the body.
This is good news for people with gout. When the level of uric acid in your blood decreases, it doesn’t accumulate and crystalize in your joints.
Urine acidity levels are affected by the foods you eat. The Japanese study assigned participants two different diets, one acidic and one alkaline. The participants who ate the alkaline diet had more alkaline urine. The researchers concluded that an alkaline diet can help people with gout reduce the level of uric acid in their bodies.
Researchers found that sulfur-containing amino acids were a main determinant of urine acidity. These are abundant in animal proteins. So, people who eat lots of meat have more acidic urine. This confirms the old assumption that people who eat diets rich in animal protein are more susceptible to gout than people with diets rich in fruits and vegetables.
It’s unclear whether adding ACV to your diet will affect the acidity of your urine. Vinegar was included in the alkaline diet used in the Japanese study, but was not the only component.
There are no scientific studies evaluating the use of apple cider vinegar in the treatment of gout. However, ACV may help you lose weight and reduce inflammation, which will reduce the amount of uric acid in your blood.
Recent research provides scientific evidence that apple cider vinegar helps with weight loss. Researchers studied the effects of apple cider vinegar in rats eating a high-fat diet. They found that the vinegar made the rats feel full more quickly, leading to weight loss.
A 2010 study followed more than 12,000 men between the ages of 35 and 57 for seven years. The researchers found that compared to those with no weight change, those who lost a significant amount of weight (around 22 points) were four times more likely to have decreased their uric acid levels.
Apple cider vinegar should be diluted with water before drinking. It’s very acidic and can lead to tooth decay when undiluted. It can also burn the esophagus. Try mixing 1 tablespoon into a full glass of water before bed. If you find the taste too bitter, try adding a little honey or a low-calorie sweetener. Be aware of the side effects of too much ACV.
You can also mix ACV with oil and use it on your salad. It can make a deliciously tart dressing.
Fruit vinegars have been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of conditions. Apple cider vinegar tastes great on salads and may help you lose weight. Its antidiabetic effects are well established. But it probably won’t help directly with gout.
If you’re concerned about the potential side effects of gout medications, then talk to your doctor about your concerns. Your doctor might want you to try an alkaline diet rich in fruits and vegetables.