Is Apple Cider Vinegar Good for You? A Doctor Weighs In
By Gabriel Neal
But it wasn't just for the fish.
It was for the vinegar—malt vinegar. We would uncap a bottle at the table and swig that tangy, delicious nectar of the gods straight.
Are most of you repulsed? Probably. Were we way ahead of our time? Apparently.
Some social media and online searches would have us believe that drinking vinegar is a cure-all. Our friends and colleagues will regale us with stories of the healing power of apple cider vinegar for whatever problem we may have just mentioned. "Oh, that backache from mowing? Vinegar." "That last 10 pounds? Vinegar will melt that right off." "Syphilis, again? You know it—vinegar."
As a practicing physician and professor of medicine, people ask me about the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar all the time. I enjoy those moments, because we can talk about the (extensive) history of vinegar, and then distill the conversations to how it could, maybe, benefit them.
A cure for colds, the plague and obesity?
Historically, vinegar has been used for many ailments. A few examples are that of the famous Greek physician Hippocrates, who recommended vinegar for the treatment of cough and colds, and that of the Italian physician Tommaso Del Garbo, who, during an outbreak of plague in 1348, washed his hands, face and mouth with vinegar in the hopes of preventing infection.
Vinegar and water has been a refreshing drink from the time of Roman soldiers to modern athletes who drink it to slake their thirst. Ancient and modern cultures the world over have found good uses for "sour wine."
While there is plenty of historical and anecdotal testimony to the virtues of vinegar, what does medical research have to say on the subject of vinegar and health?
The most reliable evidence for the health benefits of vinegar come from a few humans studies involving apple cider vinegar. One study demonstrated that apple cider vinegar can improve after-meal blood glucose levels in insulin-resistant subjects. In 11 people who were "pre-diabetic," drinking 20 milliliters, a little more than one tablespoon, of apple cider vinegar lowered their blood sugar levels 30-60 minutes after eating more than a placebo did. That's good—but it was only demonstrated in 11 pre-diabetic people.
Another study on obese adults demonstrated a significant reduction in weight, fat mass and triglycerides. Researchers selected 155 obese Japanese adults to ingest either 15 ml, about one tablespoon, or 30 ml, a little more than two tablespoons, of vinegar daily, or a placebo drink, and followed their weight, fat mass and triglycerides. In both the 15 ml and 30 ml group, researchers saw a reduction in all three markers. While these studies need confirmation by larger studies, they are encouraging.
Studies in animals, mostly rats, show that vinegar can potentially reduce blood pressure and abdominal fat cells. These help build the case for followup studies in humans, but any benefit claims based only on animal studies is premature.
In all, the health benefits we suspect vinegar has need to be confirmed by larger human studies, and this will certainly happen as researchers build on what has been studied in humans and animals to date.
Is there any harm in it?
Is there any evidence that vinegar is bad for you? Not really. Unless you are drinking excessive amounts of it (duh), or drinking a high acetic acid concentration vinegar such as distilled white vinegar used for cleaning (consumable vinegar's acetic acid content is only 4 to 8 percent), or rubbing it in your eyes (ouch!), or heating it in a lead vat as the Romans did to make it sweet. Then, yeah, that's unhealthy.
Also, don't heat any kind of food in lead vats. That's always bad.
So have your fish and chips and vinegar. It's not hurting you. It may not be doing you all the good that you're hoping that it will; and it certainly is not a cure-all. But it is something that people all over the world will be enjoying with you. Now raise high that bottle of malt vinegar with me, and let's drink to our health.
Reposted with permission from our media associate The Conversation.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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