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21 Surprising Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

21 Surprising Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

When you think of vinegar, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the clear, pungent liquid that is often used for cleaning, disinfecting and even as part of your daily beauty regimen. However, there is a specific type of vinegar that has especially impressive benefits for your health, your appearance and even for your pets that may surprise you. Apple cider vinegar, also known as cider vinegar or ACV, has been used for centuries to relieve everything from stubborn stains to the common cold and is still a go-to remedy recommended by many health professionals today. It is made from the liquid of crushed apples that is combined with bacteria and yeast and allowed to ferment to the point where the sugars are turned into alcohol. The alcohol that results is then converted into vinegar through acetic acid-forming bacteria known as acetobacter, creating a unique liquid that serves a number of invaluable purposes.

Historically, apple cider vinegar was used to flavor and preserve food, boost immunity and dress wounds. Today, it is utilized for these, as well as a wide range of other applications, due to the research-backed indications that prove it to be a highly beneficial liquid.

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Benefits for the Body

ACV is commonly available in most supermarkets and natural food stores in an assortment of forms. Whether consumed in its raw, unfiltered form, as a tonic or mixed with a beverage, apple cider vinegar has numerous benefits for the body that support long-lasting health.

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  1. Detoxifies and Builds Immunity: Apple cider vinegar is packed with probiotics, good bacteria and acetic acid, which all help to cleanse your body, balance blood sugar, improve digestion, boost energy, and strengthen the immune system.
  2. Alleviates Allergies: Because apple cider vinegar is made from the highly nutritious apple fruit, it contains a number of enzymes, minerals, and vitamins, including vitamins B1, B2, B6, and C, biotin, folic acid, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium.  These nutrients boost immunity and balance your body’s natural pH levels to help prevent illnesses, allergies, and other seasonal ailments.
  3. Cures Candida: Those who suffer from an overgrowth of yeast in the body can experience such symptoms as exhaustion, brain fog, joint pain, digestive issues, and urinary tract infections (UTIs), among other conditions. The high content of natural enzymes in apple cider vinegar helps to improve digestion and restore the natural balance of healthy bacteria in the gut, which reduces the overgrowth of candida in the body.
  4. Relieves Heartburn: Every time you eat or drink, your stomach combines the food, acids, and enzymes together to begin the digestion process. Certain protective cells within the stomach prevent the acid from causing inflammation, but these cells do not exist in the esophagus. If stomach acid and digestive juices reflux back into the esophagus, this can cause uncomfortable heartburn. Drinking ACV helps to lower the stomach acidity and increase its pH levels because the acetic acid found in the drink is weaker than the hydrochloric acid created during digestion. Thus, your stomach enjoys a milder acidic environment in which it can still digest food, but with less strain on the esophagus and, therefore, less heartburn.
  5. Improves Digestion: While an improper balance of stomach acid and the reflux of acid back into the esophagus can cause pain, discomfort, and heartburn, the stomach needs a certain amount of acid in order to aid digestion. When you eat, your stomach cells secrete hydrochloric acid (HCL), which helps to break down proteins and stimulate the absorption of carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins. ACV improves digestion by increasing HCL production in the body to maintain balance and comfort throughout the process.
  6. Reduces Muscle Fatigue: Whether you’ve recently finished a tough workout or just have tight and tired muscles from strenuous or monotonous activities, apple cider vinegar is a safe and healthy remedy that can provide relief. Due to the content of amino acids, raw enzymes, and potassium in ACV, drinking just two teaspoons can help to beat muscle fatigue, reduce inflammation and flush out built-up lactic acid.
  7. Promotes Bladder Health: If E. coli bacteria from your colon enter the urinary tract, it results in a urinary tract infection, which can cause odorous or discolored urine, a burning sensation when you urinate, the frequent need to urinate or pain in the abdomen. Apple cider vinegar is a commonly used remedy for UTIs, as the potassium in the liquid hinders the growth of the UTI-causing bacteria, while its acetic acid content kills bad bacteria and supports the growth of good bacteria.

Benefits for Your Appearance

In addition to serving numerous benefits for your internal systems, apple cider vinegar is also extremely useful for your outward appearance in a number of ways.

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  1. Improves the Health of Your Hair: While you may have never thought to use apple cider vinegar as a shampoo or conditioner, it actually serves as a nourishing wash for your hair and scalp. It helps to restore the hair and scalp’s pH balance, seal the hair cuticles, treat a dry and itchy scalp, naturally detangle hair, and encourage hair growth.
  2. Brightens Skin: Apple cider vinegar mixed with water makes a surprisingly effective face wash that clears and brightens the skin. ACV contains alpha hydroxy acid that removes dead skin and reduces the appearance of age spots. In addition, its malic acid content makes it a potent antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral solution that reduces the formation of blemishes. For those with extra dry skin, ACV can help to hydrate and reduce the appearance of wrinkles, resulting in a bright, youthful appearance.
  3. Eliminates Bad Breath: The buildup of bacteria in the mouth can not only cause gum disease and increase plaque, but it can also leave you with horrible-smelling breath. Luckily, a simple swish of the liquid mixed with some water can eliminate your bad breath and improve mouth health by killing the bacteria and breaking down the plaque.
  4. Reduces Body Odor: The body produces a strong and unpleasant odor when overactive sweat glands generate an abundance of sweat that is then mixed with bacteria. Because apple cider vinegar helps to kill unwanted bacteria, applying ACV to your underarms can help reduce the odor.
  5. Removes Skin Warts: A skin wart can be an embarrassing, bothersome growth that is difficult to remove with common creams, astringents or treatments. Fortunately, ACV will save you a trip to your dermatologist’s office, because it can be mixed with water and applied to your wart for an easy, painless remedy that will reduce the wart’s appearance over time.
  6. Relieves a Poison Ivy Rash: If you’ve ever returned from a hike or a camping trip with areas of red bumps, swelling, blisters, pain or itching on the skin, it’s highly likely that you rubbed up against a poison ivy plant. Before the uncomfortable rash spreads to other parts of your body, apply a teaspoon of ACV directly to the affected area. The liquid will pull out the toxins from your skin’s pores, reducing the swelling and redness, and relieve the itching.
  7. Helps You Lose Weight: While this is somewhat of a debated benefit, evidence shows that apple cider vinegar may actually help to reduce body weight. It works by lowering blood glucose levels, blocking the digestion of starch, reducing appetite, and burning fat.

Benefits for the Home

While drinking apple cider vinegar and consuming in its various forms is highly beneficial for your overall health and appearance, the truly surprising benefits are what it can do for your home and garden.

  1. Cleans Your Home: Apple cider vinegar is not only a better-smelling, more natural way to clean your kitchen counters, bathroom tile, and hardwood floors, but it will also save you money as compared to expensive, commercial cleaners. The mild acidic properties of ACV help to kill bacteria, effectively remove dirt and mineral deposits from surfaces and provide a non-toxic solution for disinfecting your home.
  2. Helps Your Pets: Since apple cider vinegar is a safe and non-toxic solution for humans to consume and apply topically, it can also be used in the same ways on your furry family members. ACV may be used to treat skin rashes or cuts on your pets, can be mixed with water and used as a shampoo to reduce itching, kill fleas and cleanse the skin, and can even be used to clean messes left behind during potty training.
  3. Preserves Food: Vinegar is used as a common preservative for pickled foods but depending on the type used, it can also add a unique flavor that tastes great and makes vegetables last longer. Using apple cider vinegar as a food preservative is especially beneficial since it is a probiotic that contributes to a healthier gut.
  4. Improves Dye Color: Whether you’re dying eggs on Easter or freshening up your hair color with an at-home treatment, adding apple cider vinegar to your dye will result in richer, fuller color. The vinegar helps to set the dye on the object you’re coloring and keep it looking brighter through multiple washes and wear.
  5. Kills Weeds: Maintaining a beautiful garden void of pesky, overgrown weeds can not only be expensive if you’re using name-brand chemicals, but it can be poisonous to your children and pets. Using apple cider vinegar as a non-toxic weed killer is safer and more effective, as its natural acetic acid content kills the roots and prevents regrowth.
  6. Softens Clothes: Adding a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar to your laundry loads will not only help your clothes look brighter over time, but will also condition them, making them feel softer. This is especially beneficial for those who are sensitive or allergic to harsh laundry detergents.
  7. Unclogs Drains: For the ultimate solution in toxin-free cleaning and deodorizing around the house, replace your kitchen and bathroom cleaners with a simple mix of apple cider vinegar and iodized salt. The scrubbing power of the abrasive salt combined with the powerful cleaning ability of apple cider vinegar will blast through the toughest drain clogs.

Whether using apple cider vinegar for yourself, your family, your home or your garden, it clearly proves to be the quintessential product for cleansing and boosting health. Its unique properties and wide range of applications make it a household staple that serves as a safe alternative to a variety of harsh chemicals and cleaning products.

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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