We all know the adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but have you heard the one about three swigs of apple-cider vinegar keeping your weight at bay?
Me neither, and while Cynthia Holzapfel attempts to convince us of its fat burning effects, after reading her book Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss and Good Health, I’m left feeling that it may as well have been penned by Hans Christian Andersen.
Why? Well, the story goes like this. There was once a nice lady called Cynthia, who told people that, if you stir two teaspoons of apple-cider vinegar into a glass of water and drink it before each meal, your fat would go away.
Gather round for this bit. The pectin in her brew, she said, makes you feel less hungry, while its acid assists protein digestion in the stomach, helping the synthesis of growth hormone, which breaks down fat cells. Then fairy godmother Cynthia waved her wand and, hey presto, apple-cider vinegar would raise our metabolic rate and stop us from desiring big bad things such as salty and fatty foods.
A lovely idea, but surely a fairy tale, although Holzapfel fleetingly makes it back into the real world with her advice that cutting back on salt and eating more fruit and vegetables can aid weight loss.
As Graham MacGregor, a professor of medicine at St George’s Hospital, London, says: “Salt causes retention of fluid in the body. By cutting down on salt, you can pass 1.5kg of water, which represents a weight loss of 3lb.”
Well there we are. The virtues, or otherwise, of apple-cider vinegar seem to have fired the author’s imagination more than we can hope it to speed up our metabolism.
In other apple-cider vinegar news, a reader writes: “I read recently that apple cider vinegar helps the body to absorb more calcium from food, as it is alkaline-forming. I am rather confused, as I had always thought vinegar to be highly acidic. Can you clarify this please?”
Many people confuse the terms “acid-forming” and “acidic”. They are entirely different. Acid-and alkaline-forming refer to the mineral “ash” that remains in the body after food has been metabolized. In the case of acid-forming foods (such as most proteins and starches), the mineral ash remaining is usually sulphur, phosphorous, or chlorine. Alkaline-forming foods (most fruits and vegetables) leave ash consisting of potassium, magnesium and calcium. Eating too many acid-forming foods and too few alkaline-forming foods can cause an over-acid stomach. To add to the confusion, foods such as milk are alkaline before consumption but become acid-forming after digestion.
Some books do list vinegar as “acid-forming”, but fail to make the distinction between the different types of vinegar.
Mass-produced malt vinegar, a waste product of the brewing industry, is definitely acid-forming in the body. Apple cider vinegar, however, has an alkalizing effect and many arthritis sufferers take it to reduce inflammation. Acid-forming foods deplete calcium in the body, while alkaline foods increase calcium absorption.
Another reader writes: “For the past 18 months, my six-year-old Dobermann bitch has suffered from a thinning coat. She has bald patches on her sides and around her tail and spends most of her time shivering.”
Richard Allport, an holistic vet, says there are many simple things you can do to encourage new fur growth, but suggests asking your own vet to make sure there are no serious underlying problems first.
Whatever is diagnosed, you can still try the following: add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar per pint of her drinking water to improve the blood circulation to the skin and encourage better hair growth. You could also enrich her food with kelp powder, a seaweed preparation that is rich in iodine and other essential minerals. Mix 1 1/2 teaspoons with her food, daily. She would also benefit from aromatherapy, which you can do at home by gently massaging an essential oil, such as rosemary, into the worst affected areas. Dilute two or three drops of the oil in a teaspoon of a “carrier” oil, such as almond or sunflower. Do this twice a day.