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, with varying results.
One study from researchers at 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 study 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 apple cider vinegar’s impact on type 1 diabetes found that it 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 said.
Apple cider vinegar that is organic, unfiltered, and raw is usually the best choice. It may be cloudy and will be higher in beneficial bacteria. This cloudy cobweb of chains of acids is the called the mother of vinegar culture. It’s added to cider or other fluids to start the fermentation of vinegar and is found in high-quality vinegars.
Apple cider vinegar is considered safe, so if you have diabetes, it may be worth trying. However, according to Pena, people who have kidney problems or ulcers should steer clear, and no one should substitute it for their regular medication.
Large amounts of apple cider vinegar can reduce potassium levels. When taking insulin or water pills (like Lasix), potassium levels may drop to dangerous levels. Talk to your doctor if you take these medications.
Pena suggested diluting 1 teaspoon of the vinegar in a glass of water to decrease irritation to the stomach and damage to the teeth, and cautioned people who are seeking a cure-all.
Pena recommended 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 said. Limit fruit to one to two servings per day, and aim for an overall increase in physical activity. Read on for fitness tips aimed at people with diabetes.
“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.”