I turned 30 a few weeks ago, and I’ve been having indigestion. Coincidence? My acid-belly is probably related to the stress at work, but, on the other hand, I am developing a number of old-lady symptoms and characteristics. I need glasses to read, I watch birds eat outside my office window, and can’t tolerate the noise from our neighbors’ weekend parties (I love going to bed at 10 on a Saturday night!). It was at my 30th birthday “party” (hey guys, want to come over for some wine and gluten-free-cake?), actually, that a friend told me I should try using Apple Cider Vinegar to treat my indigestion. Really? Doesn’t that seem counter-intuitive, to treat your acid-washed esophagus with more acid? But I’m getting desperate, here, so I looked into it.
Well, first I bought the product, and then I looked into it. I’m an optimist. The first thing I noticed about my new bottle of organic, unfiltered ACV (as the followers call it), is that it reads like a bottle of Dr Bronner’s soap, promising to cure all kinds of ailments. It reminds me of those old-timey elixirs that travelling “doctors” would sell to naïve pioneers in the American west. Cures snake bites, typhus, yellow fever, and sea sickness! Balances your humors! I promptly swallowed two teaspoons full. Then I went to the computer for some research.
The “mother?” What is that?
When researching health topics, I always look first to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). While mute on the subject of vinegar to treat indigestion, the NIH does cite findings that vinegar can help to regulate blood sugar levels, and may act as an anti-tumor agent! Really! Studies found that the addition of vinegar to food can reduce the glycemic index (a measure of how much a food spikes your blood sugar), and chasing bread with a vinegar shooter reduced post-meal blood-sugar levels in healthy subjects. Vinegar also improves insulin sensitivity in both people with Type 2 Diabetes and those who are insensitive to insulin but not diabetic. In case you don’t obsessively read about blood sugar or insulin regulation (like I, a non-diabetic person do), a little note on why this is important: if your blood sugar spikes, insulin rushes in, carting off sugar to your muscle cells, which leads to a blood-sugar-low, which causes you to crave more sugar and potentially eat all the doughnuts in the office kitchen. On the other hand, if your body becomes insensitive to insulin (when this is a permanent condition, it’s called Type 2 Diabetes), two bad things happen: the insulin no longer carries the sugar, which is fuel for your muscles, to these cells, which leads to fatigue and other complications, and insulin builds up in your bloodstream, which prevents the metabolism of fat. So acid is good for both preventing and mediating Diabetes! In many studies, it also helped patients eat fewer calories (stupid office doughnuts), and lose weight.
Additionally, vinegar may help prevent or diminish cancerous tumors. One study found that sugar cane vinegar led to death of isolated human leukemia cells, and another found that rice vinegar prevented the proliferation of a number of types of human cancer cells, including colon, lung, breast, bladder, and prostate carcinomas.
This ACV may actually be a cure-all elixir. Though just how vinegar performs these marvelous feats is unknown. PS, the “mother” refers to the bacteria that ferment the sugars in the juice and yield the acetic acid we call vinegar. The vinegar I bought is unfiltered, meaning it still contains these (now dead) bacteria. According to the NIH, “Many people advocate retaining the mother for numerous, but unsubstantiated, health effects.”
Does it work for indigestion? I can’t find any literature on the subject; I don’t think any formal studies have been performed. I have been taking it with meals for about a week, and it seems to help me feel a little better right after I’ve eaten, though it doesn’t seem to prevent that burning esophagus feeling from happening. (All day. Can I have my 22-year-old body back?) But now that I know it could prevent cancer and diabetes, I might as well keep drinking it.