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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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Sara Jane Adkins

Blogger at Natural Healthy Living

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Feeling tired all the time?

Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

Unfortunately, yes!

Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Using stressbusters
  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

L — Living Healthy

Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

1. Unplug

Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

2. Unwind

Do something to relax.

Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

3. Get Comfortable

Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

E — Exercise

Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

That’s what happened in my case.

But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

That made sense to me.

So, I decided to swim.

I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

A — Attitude

Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

Breathing.

But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

N — Nutrition

Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

The Bottom Line

If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
  • Regular Exercise You Love
  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

More Tips to Help You Rest Better

Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
[2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
[3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
[4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
[5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
[6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
[7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
[8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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