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Vinegar or Acid Helps Blood Sugar Go Down

David Mendosa has for some time been suggesting that using lemon juice or vinegar will benefit blood sugar spikes.  Lemon juice, vinegar, even lactic acid fermented foods as suggested in Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions, will lower blood sugar spikes.  And the fermentation process by lactic acid bacteria lowers carbohydrates in the food that was fermented, which is why plain yogurt is less harmful than the same amount of unfermented milk.  And it adds probiotics to boot, which helps you digest better.

Researcher Carol Johnston f rom the University of Arizona recovered data from the 1940’s and found that 2 tablespoons of vinegar reduces blood sugar spikes at an equivalent rate to much diabetes medication.  It works better with the insulin resistant, but also lowers blood sugar for diabetics.   And it even caused weight loss.

Herbalist David Winston has for years taught that taking bitters before meals will stimulate the liver to produce bile, the gall bladder to release it and the digestive juices to be produced.  It is the taste of the bitters that signals the body from the tongue- taste is more than an aesthetic experience.  What I suggest is that you take a half lime, bite into the bitter peel and squeeze the juice into your water before dinner, which gives you both essential tastes.  Bitterness requires a much smaller amount than sourness to do its work.

Alternatively you can make a salad of bitter greens like radicchio or endive and then dress it with vinegar.  Or take some bitters and eat a pickle before meals.  (The Italians say salt should start a meal to enhance digestion, so you get a two-fer here as well.)

Johnston believes that drinking vinegar is too difficult.  I have found several ways around that since I believe that taste, not just chemical reaction, is involved.  For instance, I mix the unsweetened juice concentrates of blueberry or tart cherry with apple cider vinegar, which makes a decent tasting sour drink.  Balsamic vinegar is also less objectionable, although you must account for the extra carbs as with the juice concentrations.  (Or make your own balsamic vinegar by soaking white pine needles in an equal amount of apple cider vinegar and let sit for a month before using it.)
From Diabetes in Control:

A Spoonful of Vinegar Helps the Sugar Go Down

2 tablespoons of vinegar before a meal even as part of a vinaigrette salad dressing—will dramatically reduce the spike in blood concentrations of insulin and glucose that come after a meal.
A Spoonful of Vinegar Helps the Sugar Go Down
Carol Johnston is a professor of nutrition at Arizona State University’s East campus. When she started developing menus to help prevent and control diabetes, she began with a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet. The diet worked amazingly well, but it involved major changes from the way people usually eat. Johnston feared they would give up and start downing Twinkies in no time. She wondered if there was an alternative.

Johnston struck gold while reading through some older studies on diabetes. Actually, she struck vinegar.

Her studies indicate that 2 tablespoons of vinegar before a meal—perhaps, as part of a vinaigrette salad dressing—will dramatically reduce the spike in blood concentrations of insulin and glucose that come after a meal. In people with type 2 diabetes, these spikes can be excessive and can foster complications, including heart disease

In Johnston’s initial study, about one-third of the 29 volunteers had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, another third had signs that they could become diabetic, and the rest were healthy. The scientists gave each participant the vinegar dose or a placebo to drink immediately before they ate a high-carbohydrate breakfast consisting of orange juice, a bagel, and butter. A week later, each volunteer came back for the opposite premeal treatment and then the same breakfast. After both meals, the researchers sampled blood from the participants.

Although all three groups in the study had better blood readings after meals begun with vinegar cocktails, the people with signs of future diabetes—prediabetic symptoms—reaped the biggest gains. For instance, vinegar cut their blood-glucose rise in the first hour after a meal by about half, compared with readings after a placebo premeal drink.


A few tablespoons of vinegar prior to a meal—such as part of an oil-and-vinegar salad dressing—could benefit people with diabetes or at high risk of developing the disease.PhotoDisc

In contrast, blood-glucose concentrations were only about 25 percent better after people with diabetes drank vinegar. In addition, people with prediabetic symptoms ended up with lower blood glucose than even healthy volunteers, after both groups drank vinegar.

In these tests, vinegar had an effect on volunteers’ blood comparable to what might be expected from antidiabetes drugs, such as metformin, the researchers reported January in Diabetes Care. A follow-up study has now turned up an added—and totally unexpected—benefit from vinegar: moderate weight loss.

Both findings should come as welcome news during this season when sweet and caloric treats taunt diabetics, who face true health risks from indulging in too many carbs.

Johnston was looking for possible diet modifications that would make meals less risky for people with diabetes. While reviewing research published earlier by others, she ran across reports from about 2 decades ago that suggesting that vinegar limits glucose and insulin spikes in a person’s blood after a meal.

A few research groups had conducted limited follow-up trials. For instance, Johnston points to a 2001 paper in which researchers at Lund University in Sweden evaluated pickles—cucumbers preserved in vinegar—as a dietary supplement to lower the blood-sugar rise in healthy people after a meal. The Swedish team, led by Elin M. Östman, reported that pickles dramatically blunted the blood-sugar spike after a high-carb breakfast. Fresh cukes didn’t.

“I became really intrigued,” Johnston says, because adding vinegar to the diet would be simple “and wouldn’t require counting how many carbs you ate.” At first, she attempted to replicate findings by others, focusing specifically on people with diabetes or prediabetic symptoms.

When these individuals showed clear benefits from vinegar after a single meal, Johnston’ group initiated a trial to evaluate longer-term effects. It also explored vinegar’ effect on cholesterol concentrations in blood. The Arizona State scientists had hypothesized that by preventing digestion of carbs in the stomach, vinegar might cause carbohydrate molecules to instead ferment in the colon, a process that signals the liver to synthesize less cholesterol.

So, in one trial, Johnston had half of the volunteers take a 2-tablespoon dose of vinegar prior to each of two meals daily for 4 weeks. The others were told to avoid vinegar. All were weighed before and after the trial.

As it turns out, cholesterol values didn’t change in either group. To Johnston’ surprise, however, “here was actually about a 2-pound weight loss, on average, over the 4 weeks in the vinegar group.” In fact, unlike the control group, none in the vinegar cohort gained any weight, and a few people lost up to 4 pounds. Average weight remained constant in the group not drinking vinegar.

Johnston would now like to repeat the trial in a larger group of individuals to confirm the finding, but that study is currently on hold.

Why? To no one’s astonishment, the study volunteers didn’t like drinking vinegar straight—even flavored, apple-cider vinegar. Indeed, Johnston says, “I would prefer eating pickled foods or getting . . . vinegar in a salad dressing.”

Now, the scientists are developing a less objectionable, encapsulated form of vinegar and testing its efficacy. Although there are commercially available vinegar dietary supplements, Johnston notes that they “don’t appear to contain acetic acid,” and based on studies by others, she suspects that’s the antidiabetic ingredient in the vinegar.
Diabetes Care Jan, 2005

Sources:

Diabetes in Control.  A Spoonful of Vinegar Helps the Blood Sugar Go Down

David Mendosa. Acidic Foods: Another Way to Control Your Blood Sugar

Liljeberg H, Bjorck I. “Delayed gastric emptying rate may explain improved glycaemia in healthy subjects to a starchy meal with added vinegar.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 1998 May;52(5):368-71.

Liljeberg HG, Lonner CH, Bjorck IM. “Sourdough fermentation or addition of organic acids or corresponding salts to bread improves nutritional properties of starch in healthy humans.” J Nutr. 1995 Jun;125(6):1503-11.

Brighenti F, Castellani G, Benini L, Casiraghi MC, Leopardi E, Crovetti R, Testolin G. “Effect of neutralized and native vinegar on blood glucose and acetate responses to a mixed meal in healthy subjects.” Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995 Apr;49(4):242-7.

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See Also:

Fermented Blueberry Drink Prevents Diabetes

Our Symbionts, Ourselves

Natural Remedies for Indigestion

How to Make Miso

See Also:

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