How does a nice, pre-dinner cocktail of vinegar sound?
I agree: not very appealing.
In a moment I’ll address the issue of palatability. But to start things off, we’ll look at a study that illustrates how a little vinegar before meals may actually help diabetics and those with pre-diabetic symptoms manage insulin sensitivity.
A bagel and a juice
Dr Carol S. Johnston is a researcher in the Department of Nutrition at Arizona State University in the US. Like many nutritionists, Dr. Johnston is curious about the ways that some natural agents seem to help control spikes of insulin and glucose after eating. So a 2001 Swedish study caught her attention. In that study, researchers showed that blood sugar spikes were held in check when pickles were consumed immediately after a high-carbohydrate breakfast.
The Swedish research followed up preliminary studies that singled out vinegar as a potential agent that might help control blood sugar spikes. So Dr. Johnston and her team created a study to put vinegar to the test on three groups of subjects: ten Type 2 diabetics, eleven subjects who showed symptoms of pre-diabetic insulin resistance, and eight subjects with normal insulin sensitivity. None of the subjects were taking any diabetes medications.
After a short fasting period, subjects were randomly assigned to consume a drink containing 20 grams of apple cider vinegar (diluted with water and sweetened with a little sugar) or a placebo drink.
Two minutes later, each subject ate a meal consisting of a white bagel with butter and a glass of orange juice: approximately 90 grams of total carbohydrates. Blood samples were collected before the meal, and 30 minutes and 60 minutes after the meal. Glucose and insulin levels were measured in each sample. One week later the test was repeated, with vinegar and placebo groups swapping roles.
Dr. Johnston and her team reported several significant results:
Each of the three groups had improved glucose and insulin profiles following meals that started with the vinegar drink
In subjects with type 2 diabetes who drank vinegar, glucose concentrations were cut by about 25 percent compared to diabetics who drank placebo
In subjects with pre-diabetic conditions who drank vinegar, glucose concentrations were cut by nearly HALF compared to pre-diabetics who drank placebo
And here’s the most surprising result: Pre-diabetic subjects who drank vinegar actually had lower glucose levels than subjects with normal insulin sensitivity who also drank vinegar.
A spoonful of molasses
If you’ve ever started off a meal with a glass of wine, but couldn’t get past the first sip because it tasted sour, then it’s easy to imagine the dilemma of someone who wants to enjoy the benefits of vinegar intake, but who isn’t keen on the idea of sipping a pre-meal shot of vinegar.
Dr. Johnston notes that vinegar dietary supplements may not be useful for managing glucose and insulin spikes associated with meals because they don’t contain acetic acid – the key ingredient that she feels is responsible for vinegars effectiveness.
In a past e-alert, I told you about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. The consensus is that you should avoid the typical apple cider vinegar product that large supermarket chains carry. Instead, look for raw, unfiltered, unpasteurised apple cider vinegar, available at many health food stores.
A member named Jane offers this additional advice: Never pour boiling water on it as that denatures it. If you’re not used to cider vinegar, start with a teaspoonful in a glass of warm water 3 times a day. Gradually increase the dose as you get used to it. Since blackstrap molasses is also good for arthritis, I add a spoonful of that to my cider vinegar drink, which makes it more palatable besides adding a lot more minerals than honey would.
When sugar is extracted from cane, blackstrap molasses is the residual syrup that remains at the very end of the extraction process. It contains the lowest sugar content of the molasses, but is highest in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.
So if a small amount is added to apple cider vinegar, it probably wont create problems for most diabetics. Even so, diabetics and those who have pre-diabetic conditions should talk to their doctors before trying a regimen of apple cider vinegar.
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