Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar made from apples; this common kitchen ingredient tops the list in many home remedies for many conditions, this is not surprising because it has been used for centuries (since 5,000 B.C) to treat ailments and reduce symptoms. Hippocrates even prescribed it mixed with honey to cure colds and coughs.
It had a recent boost in popularity and there are lots of scientific researches to back this claim. More studies are still being done on it and many people are benefiting from this powerful liquid. Some call it the “magic portion” others call it the “miracle liquid”. We will be looking at the amazing health benefits of apple cider vinegar before we learn how to make it so that we can appreciate it better.
Apple cider vinegar is made from apple cider that has undergone fermentation to form healthy probiotics and enzymes; this liquid contains more healthy nutrients, less sugar and fewer calories that apple cider or apple juice.
Amazing Things Apple Cider Vinegar does in your Body
It controls blood sugar levels: This is one of the most studied benefits of ACV; one study showed its effectiveness to decrease the levels of blood sugar by 31%, it was also given to diabetic rats for 4 weeks in one study and it significantly reduces blood sugar. It also helps to increase insulin sensitivity by up to 34% in those with either insulin resistance or type II diabetes. Insulin is the hormone that helps in the transport of sugar from the blood to tissues where it is used as fuel. To control your blood sugar; add two tablespoons of ACV to a glass of water and drink before meals and indulge in plenty of physical activity.
It relieves cramps: Cramps are signs that one is low in potassium; ACV is rich in potassium, taking it will reduce the frequency of cramps. It is often used to treat leg cramps and menstrual cramps. To relieve nighttime leg cramps; add a teaspoon of honey and 2 tablespoons of ACV to a glass of water and drink.
It relieves stomach upset: This is one of the oldest uses of ACV; it fixes and relieves the symptoms of stomach problems. Its antibacterial properties can treat bacterial infections that cause diarrhea. Its rich content of pectin soothes intestinal spasm. It also treats indigestion; add a tablespoon of ACV and a teaspoon of honey to a glass of warm water and take it 30 minutes before you eat.
It treats mouth odour and whitens teeth: This liquid is an effective home remedy to control and banish bad breath; drink it and garlic with it to kill the bacteria that cause mouth odour. It is also effective in removing stains from teeth; it whitens teeth and makes the gums healthy by killing harmful bacteria.
It aids weight loss: The recent popularity gained by ACV was in its ability to enhance weight loss; fitness gurus and naturopaths recommend an ACV diet to help get rid of excess weight quickly. A result for a study confirmed this benefit as participants lost nearly 4 pounds without the help of diet or lifestyle changes. They just consumed two tablespoons of ACV every day for 12 weeks. A way it does this is by increasing satiety which gives one a feeling of fullness and thereby reduce intake and increase weight loss. To make it more effective, add healthy diet and active lifestyle to it.
It alkalizes the body: Many things make the body acidic and this makes the body susceptible to all kinds of diseases. Taking ACV daily will help to restore the body to its normal pH which is that of an alkaline state. ACV is acidic but when it enters the body it becomes alkaline; maintaining the alkaline state of the will lead to an increase in energy and increased resistance to diseases.
It cures hiccups: The sour taste of ACV stops hiccups in its tracks; it overstimulate the nerves in the throat to stop hiccups. Take a teaspoon when having hiccups.
It detoxifies the body: ACV helps detoxifies the body and other vital organs like the liver, this will in turn increase the circulation of blood. It clears out waste products and toxins; it breaks up mucus and clears the lymphatic system and boosts better lymph circulation. It also stops and prevents the overgrowth of candida which is behind many health issues including poor memory, fatigue, headaches, depression, sugar cravings and yeast infections. It rich source of enzymes eliminates candida in the body.
It lowers cholesterol: Cholesterol, a fat-like substance has been implicated as the culprit in many chronic diseases which are the top killers in the planet. This substance builds up in the arteries when they get scratched or damage; this is how the body repairs damaged blood vessels but overtime, the arteries becomes narrow and hardened. This leads to reduced supply of blood to vital organs of the body like the brain, heart and kidneys.
High levels of cholesterol in the blood put a strain on the heart and make it to work harder to push blood throughout the body. ACV keeps the levels of cholesterol low; this in turn will keep the heart healthy and prevent chronic diseases. It can also increase the levels of good cholesterol (HDL) while reducing the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) at the same time.
It improves the overall health of the body: It makes the abortion of nutrients easy; it aids the absorption of calcium and this helps in preventing osteoporosis and other bone problems. Its rich content of anti-oxidants slow the process of aging; and it fights against free radicals and prevents oxidative damage to the body.
It soothes sore throat: Its antibacterial properties kill the germs responsible for sore throat. Most germs can’t survive the acidic environment created by ACV; to cure sore throat, gargle with ¼ cup of ACV mixed with ¼ cup of warm water. Do this every hour till you get relief.
It can prevent cancer: Some studies here, here, here and here have shown that ACV can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. Though more studies are needed to validate this claim, it is not a bad idea to add it daily to your meals to reap from its immense nutritional content.
It makes the skin healthy: ACV is potent against acne and scarring; its antibacterial property fights certain stains of bacterial that cause acne. ACV is rich in acetic acid, lactic acid, succinic acid and citric acids which inhibit the growth of a specific strain of bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) responsible for causing acne.
A study showed its potency in reducing scarring and treating acne scar. It lactic acid improves skin texture; pigmentation and appearance of the treated skin parts and it also lightens the scars. It can be used to clean the face or to make face mask. It is also used in treating sunburns, bruises and to fade scars.
It clears nasal congestion: It is effective against a stuffy nose; ACV is rich in potassium which is effective in thinning mucus, its rich content of acetic acid also prevents the growth of bacteria which can worsen nasal congestion. You can add ACV to hot water and inhale the stem and you can also add a tablespoon of ACV to a glass of warm water and drink regularly till the congestion is cleared.
It reduces blood pressure: This is a risk factor for heart disease; it puts more strain and pressure on the heart and makes it work harder to pump blood to the whole body, this weakens the heart and causes the muscles to deteriorate over time. Acetic acid reduces the levels of blood pressure and it has the ability to block the actions of a specific enzyme that raises blood sugar.
It makes the hair healthy: This powerful liquid is good for the hair; it supports healthy growth of hair and prevents dandruff and itching. The acidity of ACV changes the pH of the scalp; this prevents the growth of yeast and other germs. Mix ¼ cup ACV with ¼ cup water in a spray bottle; spritz this mixture on your scalp, let it sit for 15 minutes or as long as you want, you can wrap your head in a towel. Wash your hair later then this should be done twice weekly for best results.
It relieves symptoms of heartburn: Also known as GERD (Gastro esophageal reflux disease) or acid reflux happens when the stomach content flows back into the esophagus; this cause symptoms like heartburn, belching and nausea. It is caused by low levels of stomach acids; ACV relieves the symptoms and provides relief for those suffering from this condition. Taking in this acid into your digestive tract will prevent the backflow of the stomach content into the esophagus.
It boosts energy: Stress and physical exercise can cause the buildup of lactic acid in the body; this can lead to fatigue. ACV is rich in amino acids which act as an antidote; it is also rich in potassium and enzymes that relieve the symptoms of tiredness. Whenever you feel tired; add two tablespoons of ACV to a glass of water and drink, it can also be added to a glass of chilled vegetable drink or fruit juice.
Other important uses of ACV are: it is used to relieve insect bite; to get rid of warts, to make an effective skin toner, to fade age spots, to boost the health of the gut, heal poison ivy and rashes, kill insects, ward of seasonal allergies, used as a natural deodorant, keeps hair shiny and it is also used in cleaning the house.
This liquid is extremely safe to use; it should just be diluted properly to prevent toxicity. 2 tablespoons of ACV in a glass of water and taken daily is enough to reap it immense health benefits and prevent problems.
How to make ACV at home
It is possible to make your own ACV; I will show you simple ways to make your own organic, raw and unfiltered ACV in the comfort of your home. It is very easy and inexpensive.
You will need:
- 3 small fresh organic apples; if they are not organic, you need to peel the skin because the skins contain lots of pesticides that are harmful to the health.
- Raw sugar (like muscavado)
- Filtered water
- Chopping board
- A wide mouth jar or container
- Cheese cloth or paper towel
- A band (a tight elastic cloth)
- Plastic, wooden or ceramic spoon
- Wash the jar well and sterilize it. You can sterilize it by washing it in hot soapy water; you can leave it to soak in the hot soapy water for sometimes before washing it. Then you rinse it very well so that the soap will not be left behind. Place the jar on a baking sheet and put them in the oven till they are completely dried. This will remove germs that might spoil your ACV.
- Wash and chop the apples into medium sized pieces. Place them in the sterilized jar. Rinse the jar for the last time before putting the chopped apples to remove unwanted residues of soap.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of raw sugar with a cup of filtered water and pour it over the apples; add more water to cover the apples.
- Cover the jar with either a paper towel or a cheesecloth, then secure it with a band; this will keep dirt and contaminants away, it will also allow air enter into the jar.
- Place the jar in a warm dark place for 2 to 3 weeks.
- You bring it out after the above time frame and strain out the liquid; discard the apple pieces, return the liquid to the same jar and cover it again as before.
- Return the jar to the dark place and let it sit for 4 to 6 weeks; try and stir it every three days with a wooden, plastic or ceramic spoon.
- After four weeks have passed; you can start tasting your ACV till it reaches an acidity that you like.
- When you are satisfied with its concentration; you should transfer it to a bottle with a lid and you can start using it.
Things to note:
- Use a right jar or container with wide mouth if not you apples will float to the top and this will affect the process; you can use a big glass jug.
- Remember to use only organic apples and if you don’t get organic; discard the skins and use only the core but if it is organic you can use every part of it as long as it is not rotten.
- Look out for bubbles; that is a sign that fermentation has started.
- There will be white scums at the top; it is only a natural outcome of the fermentation process and this is what forms the “mother” in the next few weeks.
- If the scum is of any other colour like green, black, grey, or blue; it shows something has gone wrong; it has been infected by moulds and should be discarded. Try to know what caused it and avoid it. Start all over again with new fresh apples.
- Raw sugar is often used because it helps to start the mother from the scratch; honey can be used if there is no raw sugar available but honey slows the process of fermentation. Also ACV made with honey is not as strong as that made with raw sugar.
- Note that raw sugar is not the same thing as white refined sugar.
The types to buy
When you want to buy ACV; it is advised to go for the organic, raw and unfiltered types. This is to help you maximize the benefits. Good ACV should be murky with a web-like appearance.
- Raw Apple cider vinegar: This type is unheated and unprocessed; it still has its nutrients (commonly called “mother”) intact which is a cluster of proteins, enzymes and beneficial bacteria which are often removed during processing.
- Organic Apple cider vinegar: This means that the apples used are free from genetically modified organism and synthetic additives that actually do more harm than good in the body.
- Unfiltered apple cider vinegar: Filtered ACV has its mother removed which is the nutrients that gives it its immense health benefits. This type is usually clear and has an amber colour. This type is mostly used for non-health purposes like cleaning or using it to make a deodorant or home detergent. If you want to use ACV for your health; go for the first two mentioned above.
How to make ACV taste better?
ACV has a sour and bitter taste but this does not stop people from using this miracle liquid; they are a number of ways to improve the taste and some of them are:
- Add a teaspoon of raw honey and two tablespoons of ACV to a glass of water; it makes the bitter taste more tolerable and swallowing easy.
- Combine with fruit juices or smoothies; adding two tablespoons of ACV to fruit juices or smoothies is another way to mask its taste.
- Add it to herbal teas; 2 tablespoons of ACV can also be added to herbal teas like cinnamon, ginger or Moringa tea.