Vinegar: A Diabetes Do or Don’t?
What impact do apple cider and red wine vinegars have on diabetes and weight loss? Armandina White, Streamwood, Illinois
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND, responds
Vinegar has been used for centuries for a variety of health problems, including glucose management, dandruff, excessive sweating, fungal infections, and even heartburn.
What to Know
Medication, regular exercise, and healthful eating habits are the cornerstones of diabetes control. Nothing will take their place. Still, many people have an interest in consuming vinegar and other products to give them an edge in controlling their blood glucose. Research suggests that vinegar may reduce blood glucose in people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. But the American Diabetes Association says evidence is insufficient to recommend its use and advises caution.
If vinegar does have an effect, researchers suspect that it may work by slowing the digestion of starches, delaying the emptying of food from the stomach (which may also reduce appetite and aid weight loss), altering glucose production in the liver, and through other unknown mechanisms. Though vinegar is commonly used in cooking—and you should feel comfortable using it in usual amounts—if you swallow it by the tablespoon, you could set yourself up for some undesirable side effects
Find Out More
Before changing your diet, supplements, or any lifestyle factors, discuss your plans with your health care provider. A single change may require additional alterations to your medications or other aspects of your treatment plan. Also, more frequently checking your blood glucose can help you learn quite a bit about the effect various foods have on your blood glucose. To estimate this, do a finger-stick blood glucose test before eating and approximately two hours after your first bite.
Nothing will replace a nutritious eating plan and healthful living. If you need changes in these areas, ask for a referral to a registered dietitian who is also a diabetes educator. This is the person who will help tailor a plan to fit your needs.
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, FAND, is a registered dietitian, certified diabetes educator, and the author of Diabetes Weight Loss: Week by Week: A Safe, Effective Method for Losing Weight and Improving Your Health (2012, American Diabetes Association).