Diabetes Self-Management Blog

OK, y’all. I wrote about this a year ago, but now I’m serious. If you want to control any type of diabetes better, consume vinegar before meals and at bedtime. Start today! It lowers post-meal and fasting glucose levels.

Apple Cider Vinegar

In a study from Arizona State University, subjects took a drink of 20 grams of apple cider vinegar, 40 grams of water, and 1 teaspoon of saccharine with each meal. (I think stevia might be better than saccharine.) Those with insulin resistance who drank the vinegar had 34% lower postprandial (after-meal) glucose compared to controls.

These postprandial benefits had been found before. It was thought that vinegar might slow the absorption of carbohydrate into the blood, or slow the breakdown of starches into sugars. This effect would mimic the effect of drugs like acarbose (brand name Precose).

But the 2004 study cited above reported that vinegar reduced postprandial glucose more in subjects who were highly insulin resistant. The authors say this result shows that vinegar increases insulin sensitivity, perhaps acting similarly to metformin.

Now studies have found that vinegar at bedtime reduces fasting blood glucose in the morning, indicating that vinegar might promote insulin production, like nateglinide (Starlix.)

Pretty amazing that a simple chemical like vinegar (acetic acid) could have the benefits of three different classes of diabetes drugs, and all for two cents a dose! It’s likely good for both Type 2 and Type 1, especially for lowering postprandial glucose. And postprandial glucose levels account for 30% to 70% of A1C values. Vinegar has got to be the most cost-effective medicine in history, but most people with diabetes still aren’t taking it.

And doctors aren’t prescribing it. Why not? Is it because there are no “vinegar reps” touring medical offices to promote their products, like drug companies do? Physicians need to wake up. Natural approaches can work, and doctors should make patients aware of them.

It’s the same reason the studies I’ve cited here are so small. Because vinegar is so cheap, there’s no profit motive to draw funding for larger studies. (Just a note for those who think the market solves health-care problems.)

How can vinegar be so powerful? I think it has to do with our ancestral diet. We used to eat carbohydrate in highly complex forms that took a long time to break down in the intestines. Some of that material may have converted to vinegar before being absorbed. Vinegar may be a signal to our bodies to produce insulin and not resist it. Today’s highly refined carbohydrates are absorbed long before they start breaking down. Our bodies don’t get the ancestral signals that carbohydrates are coming, so they’re not ready for them. Drinking a bit of vinegar might trigger the hormones and transmitters that are now missing the boat.

This theory might be nonsense, but the benefits of vinegar are proven reality. In response to my last vinegar article, nearly a dozen readers posted comments about how vinegar had helped them reduce their blood glucose and lose weight. There were no dissenting comments. Go back and read them here.

Readers mostly use apple cider vinegar, which has been touted for centuries for many health benefits. However, wine vinegar, rice vinegar, and white vinegar may be equally good. They just haven’t been studied. Balsamic vinegar apparently is not good; it’s too sugary.

The optimum vinegar dose hasn’t been established. Most reports have people taking 1–2 tablespoons before each meal containing carbohydrate, and at bedtime. It might be best to take vinegar with the first bite of the meal, to prevent the reported side effects of nausea and heartburn. But these should be rare at such low doses, anyway. You can also take vinegar tablets, which are cheap and widely available.

Here are some recipes readers sent:

Paul V: Half a glass of water with a tablespoon of cider vinegar
Kelly: Sliced cucumbers and cold vinegar in a bowl
Vicki: Two tablespoons of vinegar with one tablespoon of honey
Betty and Deb: Apple cider vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil (and optionally, mustard) as a salad dressing
Brecklundin: Apple cider vinegar in iced tea with lemon or lime and stevia
Juli: A glug of apple cider vinegar, a spoonful of honey, and the rest of the glass full of water
David: One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of water, with a few drops of stevia

I can add that rice vinegar, sesame oil, and honey makes a great Thai salad dressing.

So get on this, people! If you’re spending money on medicines to reduce postprandial glucose levels, you are missing a sure bet here. I’m betting many people with Type 2 will be able to get off some medicines or significantly reduce them. People with Type 1 might be able to lower insulin doses. All can probably achieve lower A1Cs. Please let us know how it goes. And speak to your doctor about it.

**
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