Apple cider vinegar—or “ACV,” as it’s called among enthusiasts—is having its superfood moment
When it comes to health issues, too often we ignore the mountain of facts staring us in the face, and choose instead an implausible solution that we hope is quicker and easier only to find that it was a fool’s errand with no chance for success. This is the case with weight loss, and we buy the latest fad diet book, Dr. Flim Flam’s Get Skinny Overnight Diet, hoping to drop 30 pounds of body fat in one month. Unfortunately, we lose mostly muscle and water weight, and as a result we feel terrible, our immune system is compromised, we look worse than when we started, and we end up fatter as a result.
(NOTE: Your percentage of body fat is the ratio of fat weight to lean weight. If you lose muscle and water (lean weight) your percent fat goes up, even though you lose weight.)
So it was with this mindset that I read a question from a reader who has struggled to lose weight and keep it off. She asked my opinion of apple cider vinegar as a good way to lose weight. My first impulse was to trumpet a healthy diet and daily exercise and to tell her to forget such foolish options. But as I spoke to my wife, Anita (a nutritionist and registered dietitian), about this, she told me of some credible research I should look into before responding.
Dutifully, I took her advice, mindful of a recent episode in my favorite comic strip, Blondie. Dagwood’s son asks him, “Dad, why don’t you and Mom ever argue?” Dagwood responded, “It saves time.” The son: “You mean because Mom is always right.” Dagwood: “Yes.”
You may like: Is there a ‘best time of day’ to eat?
As I looked into the issue, I found that apple cider vinegar may offer a possible modest benefit when it comes to weight loss. More compelling, however, is the work being done on the effects of apple cider vinegar to help regulate blood sugar.
A clinical study in Japan found that adding two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to water helped obese subjects lose from two to four pounds over three months. Although this rate of loss is quite modest, it is consistent with my philosophy that “fat” loss is a very slow process.
Two possible mechanisms have been proposed. Apple cider vinegar may suppress appetite when taken prior to meals. If so, it may or may not be that important for Americans, because regardless of appetite we too often eat mindlessly and “automatically” as a response to the mere presence of food. Think about what happens to the tray of donuts on the front desk at the office. A second proposed mechanism is that apple cider vinegar turns on genes that help break down fat. Sounds sophisticated, but I am doubtful of this one.
All in all, it’s possible that subjects in the Japan research study were more disciplined about eating because they knew they were in a research study, which could explain the subtle weight loss. Or, perhaps apple cider vinegar is modestly helpful in some way. More research is needed on this issue before drawing conclusions.
Considering the epidemic of Metabolic Syndrome (pre-diabetes) in the U.S., anything that helps regulate blood sugar (glucose) concentration is welcome news, and this includes apple cider vinegar.
Studies on apple cider vinegar conducted at Arizona State University indicate that it may help retard digestion of starch. Starch is a long string of glucose molecules. When you consume starchy foods (potatoes, bread, pasta, cereal, etc.) a series of enzymes starting in the mouth and continuing in the small intestines break the long strings into progressively shorter segments, ultimately ending up with single glucose molecules.
It’s not clear at present, but apple cider vinegar may interfere with the work of enzymes to digest starch, thus reducing the amount of glucose entering the bloodstream. If so, the effect would be similar to some medications that reduce blood glucose concentration.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Recent research suggests some of the claims surrounding apple cider vinegar may be legitimate. More research is needed, but if you are inclined to take apple cider vinegar, my advice is to cover all the bases and include it as an “add-on” to daily exercise and a healthy diet, and certainly not “instead of.”
Reach Bryant Stamford, a professor of kinesiology and integrative physiology at Hanover College, at email@example.com.
Read or Share this story: http://www.courier-journal.com/story/life/wellness/health/2017/06/15/apple-cider-vinegar-weight-loss-claims-may-legitimate/360196001/
Apple cider vinegar weight loss claims may be legitimate