Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Apple Cider Vinegar for Diabetes and Heart Disease

One of the biggest "cure-alls" in the realm of natural medicine is apple cider vinegar. It frequently makes its way into lay publications. Unfortunately, touting apple cider vinegar as a cure-all is problematic. First and foremost, it is not a cure-all. Second, saddling natural medicine with so-called panaceas makes natural medicine look like the realm of snake oil, and brings its reputation down.

But the effects of apple cider vinegar on cardiac risk factors and diabetes have been studied. And the results have been quite impressive.

One study has shown that cardiac risk factors improve with apple cider vinegar supplementation. According to this study, normal rats who took apple cider vinegar with meals showed a significant decrease in LDLs (the "lethal" form of cholesterol), and a significant increase in HDLs (the "healthy" form of cholesterol). Rats with diabetes had a decreased HgbA1c (basically, the average of blood glucose over the past 3 months), decreased triglycerides, and increased HDLs. This is a promising study, but a human study should be done to see if this trend applies to humans also.

A second study shows that apple cider vinegar can improve insulin sensitivity for persons with type 2 diabetes, or even those with insulin resistance (a precursor to type 2 diabetes). And a third study demonstrates that in type 1 diabetics, blood sugar spikes after eating (aka postprandial hyperglycemia) are lessened when vinegar is taken before meals. What does this mean? If you are diabetic or at risk of developing diabetes, I strongly recommend that you take apple cider vinegar regularly.

Here's the "recipe": take a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in 4-8 oz of water, shortly before meals. You can also take it after meals if you experience indigestion. If it tastes too sour, you can add a teaspoon of raw honey to the mix, making it taste like apple cider. Some people believe that this is the ideal way to take it. It is not recommended to take it undiluted, as it may dissolve tooth enamel.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The healing power of...broccoli?

Absolutely. Bad news for people like George Bush the Elder, who, during his tenure leading this nation, asserted: “I do not like broccoli. And I haven't liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I'm President of the United States and I'm not going to eat any more broccoli.” Despite the fact that for much of his life (and throughout his presidency) he regularly got high scores on health and fitness from his family physician, Bush missed out on some amazing health benefits.

So here's a few articles about the greatness of broccoli. If you have osteoarthritis, ulcers, cancer, or are at risk for any of these, it would be good for you to sit up and pay attention. And what about isolating the components like sulforaphane, di-indolylmethane, and selenium? Here's why it's better to get your nutrition from food than from supplements:

"It's probably a combination of ingredients in the plant that is responsible (for health benefits). When you try to extract them out to make a pill, it usually doesn't work." So says a randomly-named Steven Zeisel from the University of North Carolina. Dunno who he is, but the quote rings true.

Tip: either eat broccoli raw or only lightly steam it for 3-4 minutes. Cooking longer than that destroys the sulforaphane, hugely responsible for broccoli's anticancer effects.

UPDATE: Here's a great picture of a friend's son enjoying his broccoli. Seeing enthusiasm for vegetables among kids like this is cause for celebration!