Over 2,000 years ago, the Greek scientist and doctor Hippocrates gave the advice to “let food be thy medicine.” Considering that he’s thought of as the father of modern medicine (all doctors still take the Hippocratic Oath), his counsel is probably worthy of our attention.
He was a huge fan of what’s now called “lifestyle medicine,” and thought of lifestyle modification (like proper diet and exercise) as the highest form of self-treatment.
He even said that “walking is man’s best medicine”—another dictum that should be applied more liberally in today’s sedentary climate of excessive sitting.
For quite a while, it seemed like we forgot all about the ancient knowledge of lifestyle medicine, but the tide is finally turning.
Self-directed health is back in fashion.
We’re remembering that the answers to our health problems were right in front of us all along—because we’re surrounded by a bevy of miraculously healing foods.
The planet provides us with all that we require—all we need to do is learn which foods work best for us, so that we can welcome them into our lives.
Apple cider vinegar is a prime example of a simple, profoundly healthful, and readily available healing food. Let’s explore what makes it so amazing, and why you might want to keep it close at hand.
A simple and ancient health elixir
Vinegar is a true gift—a testament to the wonders nature can produce when left to her own devices.
When any sugar-containing juice is exposed to bacteria and yeast, it will ferment, thus turning the sugars into alcohol. Then, by simply leaving the alcoholic concoction unsealed, the ever-present bacteria in the air will turn the alcohol into acetic acid (the technical name for vinegar).
By this completely natural process, apple juice is transformed into a living, nutrient-dense powerhouse—apple cider vinegar.
Because of its rich profile of beneficial properties, apple cider vinegar can be used to address a wide array of health concerns.
Coincidentally, Hippocrates prescribed apple cider vinegar mixed with honey for coughs, colds, and even for treating diabetes—in the 4th century B.C.!
It’s safe to say that this is one natural remedy that’s withstood the test of time.
Proving Hippocrates right
Because of its multi-thousand year track record of promoting vibrant health, apple cider vinegar has attracted the attention of medical science.
While more research is certainly necessary, many studies have already clinically confirmed its healing qualities. Here’s what the research tells us…
It helps lower glucose levels. A study at Arizona State University demonstrated that apple cider vinegar, when taken before eating, helps improve insulin sensitivity and lower glucose levels. Diabetics improved their glucose levels by 25%, and pre-diabetics improved theirs by an impressive 50%.  Another study supported these findings by showing that participants who took apple cider vinegar before bed lowered their morning glucose levels by 4 to 6%. 
It lowers bad cholesterol and blood pressure, as suggested by a study in 2006.  While the mechanism behind this health benefit is still rather mysterious, researchers believe that credit should be given to the high content of acetic acid in apple cider vinegar.
It’s powerfully antibacterial and antifungal, especially when taken on a regular basis as a preventative immune system booster. 
It helps with joint pain and stiffness by acting as a potent anti-inflammatory agent and improving circulation. 
It’s even good for your pets. Apple cider vinegar is a popular tonic for controlling fleas, treating skin conditions, and promoting a healthy, shiny coat. 
What makes this stuff so magical?
In order to explain its abundance of health benefits, many health experts point to the nutrients and minerals that apple cider vinegar contains. They cite things like potassium, pectin, and amino acids, and enumerate their corresponding effects.
Here’s the rub, though: most conclusive studies haven’t found high levels of any of these compounds in apple cider vinegar.
This fact doesn’t negate its immense healthfulness; it just means that its healing action is still a bit mysterious to us.
There are two properties, though, that researchers have their eyes on: its alkalinity-promoting components (like acetic acid, malic acid, and ash), and its beneficial living bacteria.
Our body’s pH level and microbiome are both vast networks of biological processes that we’re just beginning to understand. They defy simple, cause-and-effect explanations, and encourage looking at the body as a holistic, unified system.
Sounds rather like natural health in general, doesn’t it? This is another benefit of letting food be our medicine: food leads us to think about health from a broader, more complete perspective.
Apple Cider Vinegar alkalizes the body to inhibit the growth of cancer because cancer can’t survive in an alkaline environment.
How to take apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is affordable and easily obtained.
First and foremost, though, always keep in mind that clear vinegar isn’t the same as apple cider vinegar. Regular vinegar doesn’t have any of the healing properties discussed above, because processing has stripped it of all of its living and beneficial components. Always look for brands that are brownish, murky, and populated by a cobweb-like material (that’s the beneficial bacteria that make it so good for you).
Add it to salad dressings and smoothies, use it with hair and skin products, or take it as a tonic (diluted with purified water).
If you like your food-medicine a bit more delicious, try mixing apple cider vinegar with honey and purified water (Hippocrates-style). For extra anti-inflammatory and antibacterial power, use Manuka honey.
Adding Himalayan salt to this mix (to fortify it with even more essential minerals) takes this blend to the next level, and works great for gargling when you have a sore throat.
Get creative, and find out what works for you!