The Hemp Connection + [vinegar]

How vinegar may help your blood glucose

I am so grateful I went to the educational meeting yesterday I almost didn't attend! For the majority of my career, the health benefits of vinegar is something that hasn't been taken seriously by colleagues in my profession. But when I saw the presenter for this topic was respected Arizona State University nutrition researcher Carol Johnston, I figured it was worth going to hear what she had to say.

Turns out, Dr. Johnston, a few years ago, while working on another project, quite by accident, found an obscure research article reporting that vinegar may be helpful in reducing insulin resistance. She decided to pick up on where the study left off, and what she has learned with her work has a lot of pertinence to PCOS.

One of the goals of better insulin function is to reduce a reading known as"postprandial blood glucose"…that is, the blood glucose reading you see after eating a meal. This reading can be important, because high numbers have been associated with heart disease as well as excessive baby weight gain in pregnancy (macrosomia). For those of you who experience the phenomenon of being hungry after eating a meal, part of the reason may be a high postprandial blood glucose.

Dr. Johnston's first study used nondiabetic subjects who were divided into two groups: insulin resistant and non-insulin resistant. None of these individuals were taking diabetes medications. If they were in the test group, they were asked to drink 20 grams of apple cider vinegar, wait 2 minutes, and then eat a (pretty high glycemic) test meal of a white bagel, butter, and orange juice. Both groups tried the vinegar and no vinegar protocols. Blood glucose 30 and 60 minutes later was measured.

They found that when vinegar was consumed before a meal, postprandial blood glucose was significantly reduced. Dr. Johnston proposes that vinegar actually may have activity similar to that of Precose or metformin. While she used apple cider vinegar in her studies, she shared that any vinegar will have the same effect. So whatever your preference, rice, balsamic, wine, or raspberry…get creative in the kitchen!

She also clarified that the difference between the action of cinnamon and vinegar is that cinnamon reduces fasting glucose and vinegar reduces postprandial glucose. So you can use both if you wish, they're not going to replace each others' benefit…they may actually complement each other.

It's important if you choose to try this, and you're on medication, to share this with your physician. The results may significantly affect the dose of medication you need. I can pretty much bet most physicians aren't informed about this, and since I was skeptical until yesterday myself, I'm providing all of the references used to write this article for anyone to download and share. The journals in which they were published are respected ones.

A really important caveat: you can overdo this advice. Large amounts of vinegar over time can cause low grade metabolic acidosis (Dr. Johnston studied this too, knowing the mentality of dieters and people desperate to get off of meds.), which is associated with osteoporosis. This acidosis can be prevented by making sure your diet has a good amount of high-potassium foods. Since those are notably fruits and vegetables, the obvious practical way to use this information is to eat a nice salad with each meal, topped with a vinaigrette dressing. Dr. Johnston recommends a ratio of 2 parts vinegar, 1 part oil, the reverse of what is traditionally used.

Keep in mind too, if you're planning to go to the health food store and buy the vinegar pills…they aren't going to work. Dr. Johnston did three separate studies with them (because she was so surprised they didn't work and she was so convinced they would), and did not get the same results the original vinegar produced.

We had the opportunity to try a new product by Bragg's, a line of vinegar beverages. inCYST intern Sarah Jones and I tried the apple-cinnamon and the concord grape-acai flavors. Both of us felt the drink was a little much to consume as packaged, but they would be fun to use in vinaigrettes, marinades, etc., in the kitchen. I'm going to try some recipes this weekend.

Keep in mind too, that any favorite foods made with vinegar will also be beneficial! Pickles, sauerkraut, Korean kimchi, there are many cultural favorites that can make this fun! Think of ways vinegar can be added to your own marinades and flip the oil to vinegar ratio.

If you're really adventurous, or just want a fun party gag, try these pickle pops we sampled yesterday! Sarah was not so keen on them but I'm German and found it pretty tasty. When I looked this up for you all,, I discovered there is even a jalapeno flavor. That's pushing it even for me, but hey, there's something for everyone.: )

Check back with us too if you're actually measuring your blood glucose after meals and let us know if this was helpful!

The cost of diabetes medications can exceed $6,000 per year, per person. And one of every 8 federal health care dollars, ($79.7 billion annually), is spent on diabetes care. Imagine what we could do to our personal budgets, not to mention that nagging national debt, if we all just walked into Costco and invested in an industrial-sized bottle of vinegar…

Ebihara K, Nakajima A. Effect of acetic acid and vinegar on blood glucose and insulin responses to orally administered sucrose and starch Agric Biol Chem 52: 1311-1312, 1988.

Johnston CS, Kim CM, Buller AJ. Vinegar improves insulin sensitivity to a high-carbohydrate meal in subjects with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care 2004: Jan 27(1); 281-2.

White AM, Johnston CS. Vinegar ingestion at bedtime moderates waking glucose concentrations in adults with well-controlled type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2007 Nov;30(11):2814-5.
Johnston CS, White AM, Kent SM. A preliminary evaluation of the safety and tolerance of medicinally ingested vinegar in individuals with type 2 diabetes. J Med Food. 2008 Mar;11(1):179-83.

Johnston CS, White AM, Kent SM. Preliminary evidence that regular vinegar ingestion favorably influences hemoglobin A1c values in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diabetes Res Clin Pract. 2009 May;84(2):e15-7.
Johnston CS, Steplewska I, Long CA, Harris LN, Ryals RH. Examination of the antiglycemic properties of vinegar in healthy adults. Ann Nutr Metab. 2010;56(1):74-9.