Apple cider vinegar has been a favorite in the wellness world for some time — you may have even tried a weight loss or detox drink that contains apple cider vinegar (ACV) yourself. Because if its popularity, it can be easy to dismiss ACV as all hype, but the truth is this natural remedy is a proven powerhouse with the science to back it up.

it turns out that it’s actually not all hype. Here are some pretty solid reasons to be adding apple cider vinegar to your health regime.

Making apple cider vinegar requires a fermentation process that creates a “mother” colony of beneficial bacteria from a combination of apples, sugar and water. That fermentation is what gives ACV that vinegar kick, and records show that people have been making this health-boosting concoction since before 5,000 B.C.

Why? Well, according to the records of various cultures, ACV was used to detoxify the liver, purify the blood, boost the body’s ability to fight illness and to clean out lymph nodes. Hippocrates was a popular user of apple cider vinegar, prescribing it along with honey to cure the common cold.

Now that we know the history of ACV, let’s look at some of its more modern uses and how you can use it to improve your overall health.

Apple cider vinegar is vinegar made from apples, sugar and water. A simple Google search will pull up plenty of sites explaining how to make your own. Or, you can go store-bought.

Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Helps You Lose Weight

Here’s the question most people want to know the answer to: Does apple cider vinegar help you lose weight? And the long answer is … YES!

To be clear, ACV is not a magic potion to be deployed as part of some kind of get-skinny-quick crash diet. It can, however, make you feel more full, which can help curb overall caloric intake. This is exactly what one study found — participants ate a whopping 275 less calories in a day after having apple cider vinegar.

Another study in humans had participants consume two tablespoons a day of apple cider vinegar for 12 weeks, without changing any other lifestyle or dietary habits. The people in the study lost an average of almost four pounds, which is statistically significant (even though four pounds in three months may not seem like a huge deal).

Ultimately, ACV is most beneficial in promoting weight loss when combined with other healthy ways to lose weight fast. Just be careful — if you have too much or consistently take it on an empty stomach, it may result in undesirable consequences, including nausea.

May Support Heart Health

If you can make it through the strong taste, using apple cider vinegar may be one heart-healthy dietary addition. One study found that ACV helped reduce bad LDL cholesterol while increasing HDL cholesterol levels in rats. Similarly, a 2001 study discovered that acetic acid, vinegar’s major beneficial compound, helped reduce blood pressure in rats, while another 2005 article published results showing vinegar blocks an enzyme that raises blood pressure.

These results should be looked at with caution, as all studies were conducted in animals, but they’re somewhat promising proof that apple cider vinegar could be good for your heart.

Regulates Blood Sugar

One of the major benefits of apple cider vinegar is regulation of blood sugar. Participants in one study found their sugar levels decreased an average of 31 percent when vinegar was consumed after eating white bread, results supporting a 2008 animal study that apple cider vinegar successfully lowered blood sugar in diabetic rats.

Additionally, Diabetes Care published a trial in which patients with diagnosed insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes saw an improvement in insulin sensitivity up to 34 percent when consuming vinegar.

Good for the Skin

Not into ingesting apple cider vinegar? That’s okay — it can help you on the outside, too. Vinegar’s antibacterial properties are probably why studies find that it inhibits the growth of an acne-causing bacteria, Propionibacterium acnes, and could even help to lighten scars.

How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar

ACV obviously has a slew of health-related benefits. It’s also versatile enough to be used in a variety of ways. Some of these include:

Add it to recipes — Using it in foods and drinks allows you to ingest apple cider vinegar in a more palatable way than having it straight. Plus, it can really help give a great tart taste to many recipes. Try using it instead of red wine or balsamic vinegar in some of your favorite recipes.

Use it on a sunburn — Many reports claim ACV soothes sunburn. Combine a cup of it with ¼ cup of coconut oil plus lavender essential oil for a great bath soak after a sunburn.

Create an ACV antibacterial spray — Whether you’re trying to fight a fungus or bacteria like athlete’s foot, or you just want a great, all-natural antibacterial or antifungal spray, apple cider vinegar is a must-have ingredient. Other ingredients that help fight these unwanted microbes and go great in a spray include aloe vera gel, jojoba oil, olive oil, lavender oil, peppermint oil, chamomile and witch hazel. Keep it in a glass bottle, since the good bacteria can mess with plastic.

Use it to shine your hair — Along with water, lemon and rosemary oil, apple cider vinegar can help create a great hair rinse that leaves your locks shiny and bright.

Dab it on your pits — That’s right, apple cider vinegar may help eliminate odor-causing bacteria in the armpits! Just dab a bit under your arms as part of a natural deodorizing morning routine and see if it works for you.

Occasionally whiten your teeth — While using vinegar in your mouth often can actually erode enamel, swishing with a bit of apple cider vinegar can help eliminate bacteria that result in discolored teeth. Just keep in mind that you should rinse your mouth with water in the few minutes following your swish, and don’t brush the vinegar into your teeth.

Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist and author with a passion to help people get well using food as medicine. He recently authored Eat Dirt and Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine, and he operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites at DrAxe.com

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