The Surprising Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

A home remedy that may improve your mood and weight.

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As the saying goes, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Although it doesn't have quite the same ring to it, it might be more accurate to say, "A glass of apple cider vinegar and water a day keeps the doctor away."

Most people associate apple cider vinegar with cooking, but its uses go far beyond the kitchen. Apple cider vinegar can provide a wide array of health benefits. It is a true power food!

Among the long list of issues it can address, apple cider vinegar can help facilitate weight loss and mood enhancement. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 Americans suffers from anxiety and/or depression and more than one-third of the U.S. population is obese. Many times these issues go hand in hand.

[Read: Which Comes First: Depression or Weight Gain?]

This is why there are so many weight-loss and mood-enhancing products on the market today. If you are having issues with your weight and/or mood, apple cider vinegar is a safe, natural alternative you should try before turning to pharmaceuticals or gimmicky products.

Weight loss

When it comes to weight loss, it's important that you feel satisfied after your meals. If you are left feeling hungry and unsatisfied, you will be more likely to binge on unhealthy foods later in the day.

Apples are high in pectin, a type of insoluble fiber. This is particularly important because high-fiber foods increase feelings of satisfaction and fullness. As its name implies, apple cider vinegar is made from apples. Just like apples, apple cider vinegar is high in pectin.

If you drink a glass of water with 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before your meals, the insoluble fiber with help you feel full with less food. The fiber will also decrease the likelihood of you binging on unhealthy foods between meals. Add these together, and you have the recipe for weight-loss success.

[See: 10 Fiber-Friendly Food Swaps to Help You Lose Weight.]

Growth Hormone Production

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins such as those found in the foods we eat. These proteins must be broken down so each amino acid is free to fuel different processes in the body. One process in which amino acids play an integral role is the creation of hormones. One hormone that is particularly important for weight loss is growth hormone.

Growth hormone is instrumental in the breakdown of fat cells. The acid in apple cider vinegar can help your body break down the protein you eat into amino acids. This will help increase the availability of amino acids to create more growth hormone.

[Read: Protein: Sure, You Get Enough. But Are You Using It Properly?]

The recommendation here is the same as above: mix 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in water, and drink it before each meal.

Iron Use

The acid found in apple cider vinegar helps release iron from the food you eat, so it can be used throughout the body. This is important because iron is a key component of hemoglobin and myoglobin.

Both hemoglobin and myoglobin are responsible for carrying oxygen to cells throughout the body. Just as oxygen is essential to burn a fire in your fireplace, oxygen is also essential to burn energy (calories) in your body. Because apple cider vinegar helps the body release iron, it also helps your body's ability to burn calories, which is critical for weight loss.

To give you a better idea of how this works, below is the formula for this process:

Iron absorption leads to oxygen utilization, which leads to energy consumption, which leads to weight loss.

[Read: Top Recommended Iron Supplements.]

Here again, 1 or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in water before meals is recommended.

Mood Enhancement

As mentioned previously, apple cider vinegar taken before meals will help break down proteins into amino acids. Once broken down, the amino acids are able to fuel processes, like the formation of hormones in the body.

Aside from the creation of growth hormone, amino acids are also instrumental in the creation of tryptophan.

This is important because tryptophan plays a critical role in the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in the brain. Serotonin is one of our "feel-good" neurotransmitters.

Serotonin elevates mood and helps us to feel relaxed, both of which are extremely important for fighting off symptoms of anxiety and depression. The more we can assist in the creation of serotonin, the better. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression and anxiety.

As we move into the winter months, this becomes even more important as low levels of sunlight have a negative effect on serotonin levels. Low serotonin levels is also one of the causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder.

[See: 8 Ways to Become an Optimist.]

So before you pay top dollar for the latest weight-loss gimmick or run to your doctor for a prescription to help you get over the blues, try apple cider vinegar instead.

Hungry for more? Write to eatandrun@usnews.com with your questions, concerns and feedback.

Yuri Elkaim, BPHE, CK, RHN is a registered holistic nutritionist, fitness expert and highly sought-after high-performance health coach. He's also a former professional soccer player and served as the head strength and conditioning and nutrition coach for men's soccer at the University of Toronto for seven seasons. For more than 13 years, he's empowered more than 86,000 people to greater health with his no-nonsense approach to health, fitness, and nutrition. He's made it his mission to empower at least 10 million people to greater health and fitness by 2018. Get Yuri's free "Y-Factor" at www.yurielkaim.com.