Alternatively Speaking: Apple cider vinegar anyone?

Alternative medicine enthusiast Natalie Marx answers your questions: How can I shed a few pounds before the holidays without using pills?

September 19, 2011 16:47
WE MAY not get such great-looking apples to dip in our honey this year, growers say.

Apples 311. (photo credit: MCT)


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As Rosh Hashana approaches, we prepare for the prime eating season in the Jewish Calendar. By the end of the eight days of Succot, including all our Shabbat dinners and lunches, we will have easily consumed at least 20 holiday meals. I have been getting dozens of emails from readers desperate to shed a few pounds before the holidays without using pills or that tea that makes you plan your outings by the nearest bathrooms. During my research, I have found that there is increasing evidence proving the wonders of apple cider vinegar. It has been praised as the wonder ferment of the world. Whether you drink it alone or diluted (two tablespoons in a glass of water) it is reported to have tremendous health benefits. Once you sweeten its acidic taste with a quality honey, the sky's the limit. So there you have it: Apple and honey - the Jewish remedy to good health!

According to researchers, apple cider vinegar in its natural form works to cleanse our bodies. It has been used since as far back as 5000 BC by the Babylonians as a pickling agent. The Egyptians show evidence of its use since 3000 BC and the Chinese have been writing about it for over three thousand years. The secret ingredient appears to be the fermentation process produced by using whole, fresh apples. It produces a stringy, cloud formation that settles to the bottom of the mixture. Perhaps a little strange looking, however this is where all the healthy enzymes are and where the acetic acid is produced. The health benefits of apples are endless, such as high fiber pectin, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, folic acid, niacin, carbohydrates and minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc. When organic apples are fermented in this way, it all combines to create a multi-tasking healthy fortifier.  Make sure that you find organic apple cider vinegar, not the one you buy in the salad dressing aisle at the local supermarket.

I recommend preparing a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and add a spoonful of honey and drink this first thing in the morning. This will start your circulation and digestion off just right in the morning. There are so many wonderful uses for this ancient food. I particularly love this simple recipe because it uses all the nutritional goodness of the apples from which it was made, plus it's fortified with the extra acids and enzymes produced during the two fermentation steps.

The quest for achieving the ideal weight before and after the High Holidays will always include an effective and efficient metabolism. Without it, your dietary intake will not be metabolized correctly, the nutrients will not be available to the body, and in excess weight would be added to the body frame.

Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries in aiding the liver to detoxify the body and to help with digesting rich, fatty and greasy foods, and for proper metabolizing of proteins, fats and minerals. If the food cannot be broken down into the absorbable form, the body cannot assimilate the required nutrients needed from the diet.
The malic acid and tartaric acid found in apple cider vinegar help to bring the acid content into balance, while killing off unwanted and unfriendly bacteria in the digestive tract.

If you find the unpleasant taste of apple cider vinegar unbearable, you can find capsules or pills at most natural food stores.

I couldn't write about apples without any mention of my favorite treat, honey. Suitably, honey is a fantastic aid to weight loss. Now you will be able to tell your relatives exactly why that extra piece of apple dipped into honey is good for you.

The benefits of honey go beyond its great taste. Honey is a perfect natural source of carbohydrates which provide strength and energy to our bodies. It is also known for its effectiveness in instantly boosting the performance and endurance of athletes. Its natural fruit sugars  play an important role in preventing fatigue during exercise. The glucose in honey is absorbed by the body quickly and gives an immediate energy boost, while the fructose is absorbed more slowly providing sustained energy. It is known that honey has also been found to keep levels of blood sugar fairly constant compared to other types of sugar.

Honey contains 22 amino acids and a variety of minerals essential for its metabolism and hence is helpful in preventing obesity. Try drinking lemon juice with a little honey first thing in the morning as it's an effective anti cellulite treatment that helps to increase body metabolism. Another fantastic recipe for weight loss involves mixing honey and cinnamon together. Many people have found this home remedy very effective in losing pounds. Simply dissolve half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder (or ground cinnamon) in a cup of boiling water. Stir the mixture and cover for half an hour. Filter away any big particles and add a teaspoon of honey. Take it in the morning with an empty stomach about half an hour before breakfast.

For those who tend to overeat over the holidays or feel discomfort in the stomach after meals, honey can be taken for better digestion. Honey is a simple carbohydrate that one can safely take during fasting because it contains easily digested sugars. I also recommend taking a generous spoonful or two of honey at night, either as a warm drink or straight from the jar. It's a great aid to help us sleep and lose weight at the same time by fueling the liver, speeding up fat-burning metabolism and easing stress hormones.

Rosh Hashana is a time when we are to "awake from our slumber" and mend our ways. Let us try to enhance our celebrations of this beautiful and spiritually meaningful holiday by making it a time to begin striving even harder to live up to Judaism's highest moral values and teachings by moving toward a more healthy lifestyle.

This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.

Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question at

Thought for the day: “If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” ~Jack Dixon

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