Before there were glucose-lowering drugs, there was vinegar. Vinegar has a long history of use as a popular folk medicine for diabetes. Recent studies are confirming that vinegar can help improve insulin sensitivity in healthy adults. A 2015 study published in the Journal of Diabetes Research demonstrated that vinegar specifically helped individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from Greece set out to determine the mechanism of action regarding vinegar’s ability to improve insulin sensitivity. To do this, they recruited 11 nonsmoking individuals with type 2 diabetes and evaluated glucose metabolism in muscle, which is the most important tissue to determine this effect. This was a randomized crossover trial. After an overnight fast, the subjects consumed 30mL vinegar (6% acetic acid along with 20mL water) or 50mL water placebo (at random order on two separate days, a week apart). Five minutes after they consumed the liquid, they ate a meal of bread, cheese, turkey ham, orange juice, butter, and a cereal bar. Blood samples were withdrawn from both sides preprandially and at 15–60min intervals for 300min after the meal from the radial artery and from a forearm vein for plasma glucose, insulin, triglycerides, nonesterifed fatty acids, and glycerol. Muscle blood flow was measured with strain-gauge plethysmography.

In the placebo group, blood glucose levels raised postprandially and reached a peak after 60 minutes, whereas in the vinegar group postprandial glucose spikes were actually decreased. Vinegar consumption also decreased postprandial hyperinsulinemia and muscle glucose uptake was increased in the vinegar group compared to placebo. Total plasma triglyceride levels were decreased in the vinegar group compared to placebo.

This is the first study to examine the effects of vinegar on glucose metabolism in skeletal muscle in people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Vinegar had a glucose-lowering effect when taken with complex carbohydrates, which is consistent with a previous study that showed that vinegar reduced postprandial glycemia in patients with type 2 diabetes when added to a high glycemic index meal. This study demonstrates that vinegar’s effect on carbohydrate metabolism is due, in part, to an increase in insulin-stimulated glucose uptake. Vinegar is a safe, simple, and economical intervention that may help type 2 diabetics improve insulin sensitivity. Larger studies are needed to conclusively confirm this effect.

 

Mitrou P, Petsiou E, Papkonstantinou E, et al. Vinegar consumption increases insulin-stimulated glucose update by the forearm muscle in humans with type 2 diabetes. Journal of Diabetes Research. 2015;(2015)April.


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