nutrition consulting

Should You Be Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar?

 
apple cider vinegar health benefits
 

I’ve been asked by multiple people lately my thoughts on apple cider vinegar – will it help me lose weight? Is it good for me? Do you drink it before meals? I tend to question food fads because no one food is a quick fix for all our ailments. I did a little research and here is what I found.


Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries dating back to the days of Hippocrates and Cleopatra. Back then they used it to treat infections, wounds, and dissolve rocks and minerals. However, as our culture and technology have advanced, most doctors and experts agree that other cleaning agents and wound treatments are safer and more effective at preventing disease and infection.

In regards to the various claims, here is what I think:

Weight Loss

One of the biggest purported claims is that drinking a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before meals will aid in weight loss.

The largest and most cited study involved 175 Japanese, overweight, but otherwise healthy subjects. Over 12 weeks, the subjects drank a beverage with either 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. After 12-weeks, they lost an average of 3 pounds. Checking in with the subjects 4 weeks post-study, they had gained it back.

My Thoughts:

Like any diet, drinking apple cider vinegar for weight loss is not a sustainable weight loss method. The study showed that the subjects who drank apple cider vinegar lost some weight very slowly. If you are very patient and don’t mind drinking vinegar everyday for months this may be a great option for you. If you’re looking for either quicker or more sustainable weight loss, I’d suggest taking a look at your diet as a whole or working with a registered dietitian.

 

Blood Sugar Control

This claim seems to have the most research to support it. Multiple studies have shown that combining vinegar (any type) when eating a starch can lower blood sugar in diabetics. The vinegar seems to work by blocking the absorption of the starch.

My Thoughts: 

Yes, some studies do support this, however, this does not mean that apple cider vinegar can reverse diabetes. If you are taking any medication please consult your doctor as vinegar may interact.

 

Lowers Cholesterol

Most of these studies have been conducted in rats (note: rats are not people) and have shown mixed results. One study showed a relationship between apple cider vinegar consumption and raised HDL (good cholesterol) and lowered LDL (bad cholesterol), while another showed the opposite.

My Thoughts:

If you have high cholesterol, try emphasizing more plants in your diet or work with a registered dietitian for customized recommendations. It seems as though the research is not quite there yet, and I would not rely on this one ‘miracle’ food.

 

Arthritis and Inflammation

There appears to be just anecdotal reports of people claiming to feel better and having less pain from arthritis when drinking apple cider vinegar. Unfortunately, there are not currently any scientific reports supporting this claim. One very small study (30 participants) did measure C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) before and after apple cider vinegar consumption and did not find remarkable results.

My Thoughts: I have a hard time giving recommendations based on purely anecdotal evidence. If you think it works for you, I think that’s just great.

 

Teeth Whitening

Apple cider vinegar is an acid. Putting acid on your teeth will wear away at the enamel and protective layer, leaving them prone to cavities.

My thoughts: Not a good idea.

 

My Recommendation:

Overall, there has not been a significant amount of research done on the effectiveness of apple cider vinegar. Although some studies do suggest promising effects, many should be taken with a grain of salt. Many studies were small sample sizes or even done on rats. The good news is that there is not a huge risk factor of consuming a spoonful of apple cider vinegar, it even contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals (vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins). If you do choose to include apple cider vinegar in your diet I would recommend either including it in salad dressings, marinades, sauces, or baked goods, or dilute it in a glass of water – remember it is an acid and it may burn (and tasty pretty nasty) if you drink it by the spoonful.

 

3 Reasons to Stop Hating Sugar

Sugar’s been getting a bad rap lately, and with good reason, it is by no means a health food and most of us consume far too much. Studies have linked excessive sugar consumption (excessive being the keyword here) with obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and more. The media tends to go through phases hating on one food, food group, food component, or ingredient - from fat to gluten and now sugar- causing us to obsess over it whether we know the evidence or not. While I’m in no way endorsing sugar, I do think there’s a problem with food obsession. Here are three reasons why I think you should stop freaking out about sugar.

3 Reasons to Stop Hating.jpg

Sugar Freak Out Doesn’t Look at Our Diets as a Whole

I think it’s great you’re trying to cut back on your sugar intake, but by obsessing over this you may be overlooking your own personal dietary downfall.

Personally, I have a sweet tooth, but many of my clients and friends prefer salty treats. I know many people who crave chips the second they get home from work and mindlessly snack by the handful. Meanwhile, they think they’re eating ‘healthy’ because they choose plain yogurt over flavored and avoid high fructose corn syrup. This is great but may not be the area they necessarily need to focus on or obsess over.

Our diet is comprised of not only what we eat but also how we eat including mindfulness, portion sizes, and more. Diets and dietary recommendations are completely individual. So while I may overconsume sugar, many of my clients likely do not. If you’re trying to eat healthier, I suggest looking at your diet as a whole (or asking a registered dietitian to) before restricting and obsessing over fat, gluten, protein, sugar, or anything else.

 

Food Restriction and Obsession is not a Healthy Lifestyle

I have an issue with food restriction. I like to encourage my clients that all foods can fit in a healthy lifestyle to try to promote a positive and healthy relationship with food. I find that when we tell ourselves we can’t have a certain food, we quickly begin to obsess over it and often crave even more of it.

To me, a diet is long term, sustainable behaviors, not necessarily a temporary program or quick fix. I believe a diet should focus on the foods you can eat not the foods you 'can’t'. While restricting sugar begins with positive intentions, it can quickly spiral out of control - whether the obsession intensifies, anxiety around food increases, or it initiates cravings and overindulgences.

While I don’t think you need to drink soda or eat bacon everyday, if you like them I think you should allow yourself to have a treat. Obsessing over foods is not a healthy mindset or lifestyle, so I’d encourage you to try not label foods as forbidden, or good, or bad, that’s no way to live.

 

Fruit is Good for You

As our obsession with sugar has exploded, we’ve even begun to point blame at fruit! Yes, fruit has sugar and ultimately sugar is sugar is sugar. However, 100% orange juice is different than soda and berries and bananas are different than candy bars and cookies. Fruit and fruit juice contain essential vitamins and minerals that do wonders for our health and our bodies, while soda and candy provide us calories with no other nutritional value (hence why we call them empty calories).

We could drink 200 calories in a 16oz soda or 200 calories in 1 chocolate bar and still feel hungry, while 200 calories in apples (about 2 large apples) would leave many of us feeling quite full. This is because whole fruit has fiber. Fiber aids in digestion, helps to fill us up, and slows the spike in our blood sugar.
 


While I think it’s great we’re taking a closer look at our health and our diets, I encourage you to focus on the foods you can have rather than those you ‘can’t.’ Focusing on including more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins while being more mindful in your behaviors and choices will bring you far.


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Orange Creamsicle Smoothie

I woke up with a bit of a sore throat this morning and wanted something nutrient packed and soothing for breakfast. This smoothie definitely hit the spot! It's packed with vitamins and is filling too. 

People seem to give vitamin C all the credit for immune boosting properties. But really there are so many vitamins and minerals that play a role in our immune system - zinc, vitamins D, A, E, and B vitamins too!

Research is actually mixed on whether or not loading up on Emergen-C and orange juice is actually effective in treating or preventing colds. Some studies show that it doesn't prevent the onset of a cold but could possibly decrease the duration. Either way, it can't hurt to get your fair share of oranges, especially this time of year when they're in season and so juicy and delicious!

When it comes to smoothies I try to follow three guidelines:

1. include a VEGGIE
I find all fruit smoothies are typically too sweet for me, so I like to mix it up with other ingredients. As fruit is naturally sweeter it seems to be easier for people to meet the recommended 2 servings per day. People seem to have a harder time getting in at least 3 servings of veggies each day. Adding one into a smoothie is a super easy way to help you reach this goal, often you can't even taste it! I try to always keep spinach or kale on hand to add to smoothies, but I also add carrots, beets, or cauliflower. This was my first time adding sweet potato and I love the orange color it gives it.

2. include a PROTEIN
I also need a source of protein in my smoothie to help fill me up and keep me full longer. Without a protein, smoothies can be a quick burst of energy from all the carbohydrates but can make us crash and feel hungry again soon after. The protein also helps repair muscles if you're eating a smoothie after a workout. For protein I usually add plain greek yogurt, milk, tofu, or I'll top it with nuts.

3. eat it with a SPOON
When you slurp a smoothie through a straw, you can suck it down in just a few seconds. I prefer (and encourage others to as well) to engage in the act of eating my smoothie. Whether I serve it in a bowl or a glass, I always top it with something (nuts, granola, plain oats, chia seeds, etc.) and eat it with a spoon. This helps me slow down and pay attention to my hunger cues. Drinking in calories (whether it be juice, soda, alcohol, or smoothies) is typically not as satisfying and we don't realize how full we are until after. Smoothies can be very filling and even high in calories, so I would encourage you to slow down and eat your smoothie.

Enjoy!

 

Orange Creamsicle Smoothie
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 banana
1 orange
1/2 sweet potato, diced
2 teaspoonfuls tahini
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
~1/4 cup of milk to blend
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Directions:

1. If you can, I would freeze the banana and/or orange ahead of time. It will make the smoothie chilled and frothy. If not, throw in a few ice cubes to chill it a bit.

orange creamsicle smoothie

2. Dice your sweet potato and steam with a splash of water in the microwave for 1 minute. This will soften it up to make it easier on your blender.

3. Combine all ingredients in blender. Blend until smooth.

4. Pour into glasses, bowls, or mason jars to go. Top with whatever you may like - dried fruit, nuts, chia seeds, oats, granola, etc. Eat with a spoon and enjoy!