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Apple Vinegar Diet - The Apple Vinegar Diet

Ancient and Affordable but Unproven

cider studies medical risk

The Apple Cider Vinegar Diet, or Apple Vinegar Diet, is a folk remedy for obesity that has graduated to the status of fad diet in the past sixty years. It consists of regular doses of apple cider vinegar before meals and has little to no actual impact on weight loss. A bottle of apple cider vinegar in liquid or pill form often costs less than $2—another reason for the diet’s popularity.

The dosage of the apple vinegar diet consists of one to three tablespoons taken before meals. Proponents of the diet suggest starting with one tablespoon, as pure apple cider vinegar is rather unpalatable. The overpowering taste lends credence to the claim that apple cider vinegar functions as an appetite suppressant, as it can leave the throat and stomach feeling pickled for up to an hour after ingestion.

Health food stores sell apple vinegar diet supplements in pill form as well. These carry a minor risk of esophageal damage if caught in the throat, so today’s naturopaths recommend taking them with a full glass of water to avoid this medical risk.

The use of the apple vinegar diet dates as far back as Ancient Greece, where Hippocrates is rumored to have used it as a medical tonic. The English poet Lord Byron raved of the healing properties of vinegar as well—at least prior to his death at age 36. Yet no endorsement so fueled the apple vinegar diet craze as did that of Doctor DeForest Clinton Jarvis, whose Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health, which suggested mixing apple cider vinegar with honey to form a daily dose panacea. The book was first published in 1958, and its advice blossomed in the 1970s amid the numerous fad diets of that decade.

Scientific research on the efficacy of the apple vinegar diet are limited and mildly promising at best. Most studies have been done on animals rather than humans. A few studies on lab rats have suggested that it may lower cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cancer, but these same studies have also suggested a risk of bladder cancer. Studies on humans suggest that it may lower glucose levels and assist as an appetite suppressant, but these studies have been limited to twelve or fewer test subjects each. Within the medical field, apple cider vinegar is treated as an amusing folk medicine; in naturopathy, rigorous scientific experiments remain rare.

High concentrations of acetic acid can cause some side effects on the apple vinegar diet. It is strong enough to erode tooth enamel and damage the esophagus. Nutritionally, it can alter insulin levels in diabetic patients, lower potassium levels, and worsen osteoporosis. Particularly sensitive skin can even suffer mild contact burns from vinegar acidity.

Overall, the apple vinegar diet is ancient and affordable but largely unproven. Its handful of risks seem to outweigh its handful of benefits. Many apple vinegar diets recommend moderate eating and regular exercise, a simple suggestion that remains the single most effective method of weight loss known to modern medical science.

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