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Research shows that apple cider vinegar, when taken before meals, significantly lowers the glycemic effect of the foods you eat. Can you use apple cider vinegar to treat your prediabetes or type 2 diabetes?

Diabetes is a huge problem — in the United States alone, 29 million people are estimated to have diabetes, and a further 86 million are believed to suffer from prediabetes, or excessive blood glucose levels that aren't quite high enough to warrant a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Of those people, a shocking nine in 10 aren't even aware that they have prediabetes! [1]

Since uncontrolled diabetes has a much larger impact on mortality than controlled diabetes, preventing hyperglycemia should be a priority for diabetes patients and their healthcare providers [2]. 

The management of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes typically includes a range of lifestyle adjustments, such as a focus on healthy eating and exercise, as well as possible medical management with insulin-based medications and medications that aim to reduce your blood glucose levels. Many people, especially those with prediabetes, also wonder if natural remedies can help them manage their blood glucose levels. 

Here, we will take a look at one much-talked-about possible tool in the management of type 2 diabetes and prediabetes — apple cider vinegar. Is managing blood sugar levels really one of the many health benefits of apple cider vinegar?

Who Is At Risk Of Developing Type 2 Diabetes?

While several types of diabetes exist, type 2 diabetes is the most common kind. The bodies of people with type 2 diabetes do not make or use insulin, a hormone that helps distribute glucose to your cells, effectively. This leads to excessive blood glucose levels, something that can eventually lead to system-wide health problems. Your heart, kidneys, nerves, eyes, and teeth can all be affected. 

People with a family history of type 2 diabetes, those who don't exercise, older people, and obese people are at a higher risk of developing prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.

You should see your healthcare provider to enquire whether you could be suffering from diabetes if you:

  • Are thirsty all the time, despite adequate water intake
  • Urinate very frequently
  • You are hungry all the time
  • Quickly become fatigued
  • Lose weight without attempting to 
  • Have wounds and sores that heal very slowly
  • Have blurry vision or notice a sudden deterioration in your eyesight [3]

Can Apple Cider Vinegar Help You Manage Your Diabetes Or Prediabetes?

Once you have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, you might worry that you will be on medication for the rest of your life. Fortunately, many people can control their blood glucose levels with lifestyle modifications alone. Where does apple cider vinegar — something we usually use to season salads — enter the equation?

Fascinating research into the effect foods have on obesity — a major risk factor for diabetes — gives us insights most people are unlikely to come to by themselves. Vitamin D deficient people are, for instance, less likely to achieve fat loss, and protein-rich foods temporarily increase the metabolic rate (postprandial thermogenesis), something carb-rich, low-fat diets cannot do. Further, both peanut and vinegar intake prior to meals reduces the glycemic effect meals have on the body. [4

This phenomenon is most likely caused by the fact that most people who use an apple cider drink before a carb meal are full more quickly [5], though vinegar may also interfere with the digestion of starches. For this reason, many people also believe that apple cider vinegar and baking soda help with weight loss

One study specifically examined the effect apple cider vinegar had on individuals with prediabetes. They were offered either apple cider vinegar pills or the commercially available Bragg's apple cider drink with cinnamon to take prior to their meals. The participants didn't alter their diets for the duration of the study period, other than by adding apple cider vinegar to their dietary regimens. The apple cider vinegar drink was found to have a significant favorable effect on the participants' blood glucose levels, while the apple cider vinegar pills were found to have an insufficient amount of acetic acid to achieve the same effect. The study authors further noted that sprinkling liberal amounts of apple cider vinegar on salads — as a salad dressing — may produce the same antiglycemic effect. [6]

Another study of patients with type 1 diabetes, or insulin-dependent diabetes, likewise showed that vinegar intake had a significant antiglycemic effect. Consuming an apple cider vinegar drink reduced the subjects' gastric emptying rate. However, the study authors noted that this could be a disadvantage, as it might make controlling blood glucose levels more difficult. [7]

Should You Use Apple Cider Vinegar If You Have Diabetes Or Prediabetes?

Since numerous studies show that taking vinegar in general, and apple cider vinegar in particular [8, 9, 10] before meals reduces the glycemic effect foods have on your body, apple cider vinegar is certainly one potentially potent home remedy you can use in the fight against your diabetes or prediabetes. Many people believe the health benefits of apple cider vinegar with the mother, a string of enzymes and friendly bacteria, to be especially great. Whatever brand of apple cider vinegar you choose, the idea is to drink it from a shot glass before meals. 

Research also shows that this antiglycemic effect might actually make it harder for you to keep your blood glucose levels steady, however, so please speak to your healthcare provider before turning to apple cider vinegar as a diabetes remedy.