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.
Around 1 in 10 Americans have type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If apple cider vinegar has the 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’re usually small — with varying results.
“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,” she said.
Research from 2004 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, this one from 2007, 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.
“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’s organic, unfiltered, and raw is usually the best choice. It may be cloudy and will be higher in beneficial bacteria.
This cloudy cobwebbed chains of acids is 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.
Peña suggests 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.
“People should be wary of any ‘quick fix’ or ‘miracle solution’ to their healthcare needs, as these suggestions are not usually backed by strong evidence and can lead to more harm than good,” Peña says.
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Talk to your doctor if you take these medications.
At the end of the day, the most effective way to prevent and manage diabetes is eating a balanced diet that includes healthy carbohydrates and enough healthy proteins and fats.
It’s important to understand the impact of carbohydrates on your blood sugar, and limit intake of refined and processed carbohydrates, such as foods with added sugar.
Instead, opt for healthy nutrient-dense, fibrous carbohydrates such as fruit, vegetables, and whole grains. Increasing physical activity can also have a positive impact on blood sugar management.