What is it, where does it come from, and why does anyone care? These are all valid questions when evaluating any dietary or lifestyle changes. So, are there any benefits to drinking apple cider vinegar? In short, yes, but how much, when, and under what circumstances are all questions you will have to answer for yourself with the help of your healthcare provider.
However, this article will give you the information necessary to have an informed conversation with your doctor and help you determine whether the benefits of apple cider vinegar will positively impact how you look, feel, and your overall nutrition.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a type of vinegar made from fermented apple juice. It is created through a two-step fermentation process where apples are crushed, and their liquid is extracted. Initially, yeast is added to the liquid, which ferments the sugars and converts them into alcohol.
Then, bacteria are introduced, turning the alcohol into acetic acid, the primary active compound in vinegar responsible for its strong, sour taste and numerous health benefits. Apple cider vinegar often contains “the mother,” a cloudy substance of beneficial enzymes, proteins, and good bacteria formed during fermentation.
How Might Apple Cider Vinegar Benefit One’s Health
This natural elixir has gained mainstream popularity for its potential health benefits, including aiding digestion, managing blood sugar levels, supporting weight loss, and serving as a versatile ingredient in culinary and natural remedy applications.
Some studies suggest that consuming ACV might aid in managing blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity. This is very promising for individuals with diabetes or those aiming to regulate their blood sugar better. Additionally, it might promote feelings of fullness, potentially assisting in weight management.
ACV’s antimicrobial properties may also help kill harmful bacteria and contribute to better gut health. It has even received mixed reviews as a means of calming acid reflux. Some people use it as a natural remedy for throat irritation, skin conditions like acne or dandruff and as a natural teeth whitener. With such a wide range of potential benefits, apple cider vinegar may give many the impression that it’s either a cure-all or a complete dud. This notion isn’t entirely unfounded, either.
While there’s promising research, more extensive studies are necessary to fully understand and confirm the efficacy of apple cider vinegar for these various ailments. It’s essential to use ACV in moderation and consult a healthcare professional before using it for medicinal purposes, especially if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
Differences Between ACV Brands
Not all Apple Cider Vinegar is created equal. The type used in studies and cited with the most potential health benefits is the raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar that contains “the mother,” a cloudy mixture formed during fermentation, containing beneficial enzymes, proteins, and bacteria.
Another critical thing to note about the fermentation of apple cider vinegar is that not all formulas have the same concentration of enzymes, proteins, and healthy bacteria. Since AVC is not a highly regulated product, it is not measured with active ingredients or cultures the way probiotics are in yogurt and other products. Many studies that showed promising results from Apple Cider Vinegar reported using a 6% acetic acid concentration.
So, if you’re interested in trying apple cider vinegar for yourself, purchase a well-known brand with a visibly cloudy appearance. Note that the cloudy sediment settles, so you must shake the bottle before each use. However, without a standard concentration of acetic acid, it is hard to know how effective ACV may be from one bottle to the next.
Cautions when Using Apple Cider Vinegar
Though most benefits of apple cider vinegar come from ingesting it orally, it is important to note that there are several side effects from regularly ingesting ACV. One of those hazards is a slight risk of damaging one’s tooth enamel from excessive exposure to acidic substances. The same is true if you eat a diet high in fruits. This information can be disheartening when many healthy lifestyles recommend incorporating such foods.
To manage this potential detriment, consider ingesting apple cider vinegar through a straw to reduce tooth contact and follow a regular oral hygiene regimen to help strengthen enamel from daily exposure to acids.
Another common effect reported by those who incorporate apple cider vinegar into their diet is upset stomach. Like any dietary change, it may take a little time for your body to adjust to the new beneficial bacteria. If you experience discomfort, consider reducing or diluting your ACV consumption until conditions improve.
A final precaution to note is that regular or high doses of apple cider vinegar have been shown to cause low potassium levels. If you live an active lifestyle, participate in athletics, or suffer from any other type of potassium deficiency, you will want to take extra precautions before adding ACV to your diet.
The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar on Blood Sugar Levels
Managing blood sugar levels plays an important role in maintaining your energy throughout the day. Those levels change as our bodies digest and break down food when we eat. Several studies have shown that consuming apple cider vinegar can lower blood sugar and reduce triglycerides and cholesterol levels.
According to statistics from a 2021 American Diabetics Association study, over 10% of the American population have diabetes. The promise of apple cider vinegar as a treatment aid for managing insulin could benefit millions of Americans who suffer from this disease. Compounded with the reduction of triglyceride and cholesterol reduction and there is potential for lowered risk of cardiovascular ailments like heart disease and stroke.
Where do Weightloss Claims for Apple Cider Vinegar Come From?
In our research, we found that there is one 2014 study cited by most articles claiming that AVC can aid in weight loss. What is most misleading is that many articles fail to fully outline the study’s parameters. Yes, participants reported a BMI reduction and a loss of belly fat over the 12-week period, but participants were also given a restricted diet of 250 fewer calories per day, and they exercised. Isn’t a regime of eating fewer calories and exercise always prescribed for weight loss?
The more compelling takeaway from this study would have been a narrative on participants’ feelings of satisfaction with their diet and whether or not the apple cider vinegar helped them feel fuller and satiated between meals. Though the ACV group had a higher BMI reduction than the control group, it is hard to draw exact correlations between the elements of the experiment that really worked, how, and why since there were multiple variables at play during the experiment.
The point is it is unfair to tout ACV as a weight loss aid alone. There is no avoiding diet, and activity levels significantly influence one’s healthy lifestyle. The overwhelming challenge with weight loss comes to finding a diet and exercise program that doesn’t leave people feeling hungry, deprived, or tired. If incorporating apple cider vinegar into a healthier diet plan can help alleviate some of the emotional drain from weight management, we might be onto something.
Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar on the Skin
Beauty experts and dermatologists alike have tried apple cider vinegar for several different uses because of its antibacterial properties. The most important thing to note is that ACV is a potent ingredient, so it is always recommended to use less than you think you need and always dilute with water. If you know you have any existing skin conditions, you should consult your medical professional before experimenting on your own. And always remember to test a small area when trying any new product.
Spot treatment, toner, and face wash are the most common ways apple cider vinegar is incorporated into face care. But each formulation is just a slightly different ratio of ACV and water followed by air drying or rinsing with warm water.
Since many skin concerns arise from a disruption to the skin’s natural pH or natural bacteria levels, the hope is that the apple cider vinegar will help restore a healthier pH and allow healthy skin bacteria to flourish. Maintaining a vibrant skin biome will help keep the harmful bacteria from mixing with skin oils and causing breakouts.
ACV benefits for Hair
Many beauty articles talk about the need to regularly remove buildup on hair from products and regular styling. Many recommend some sort of clarifying treatment or exfoliation to revive dull strands. Before you reach for a pricy store-bought solution, consider experimenting with apple cider vinegar as a low-cost DIY alternative.
The most commonly recommended formulations suggest 2-4 tbs of ACV diluted in 16 ounces of water, distilled being preferred. After your normal shampoo and conditioner, either pour or spritz the mixture onto your scalp roots, lengths and ends. Massage the solution into the hair and scalp before allowing the mixture to sit for 3-5 minutes before rinsing. For an added bit of shine, rinse hair in the coldest water tolerable.
Ways to add Apple Cider Vinegar to your Diet
Apple Cider Vinegar tonic
There are many recipes and variations of an ACV tonic, but the most common ingredients include raw honey, apple cider vinegar, and lemon juice. The sweetness of the honey not only counteracts the tartness of the vinegar and lemon, but it adds another boost of natural antimicrobial agents.
The tonic can be enjoyed warm for maximum throat soothing effect or chilled as a refreshing drink. To make the tonic, the best ratio is typically 1:1 ACV to honey mixed in 8 oz of water. You can adjust the concentration to your liking.
You could also add a splash of apple cider vinegar to your lemonade for an extra boost of nutrients and richer flavor.
Probably the most exciting use for apple cider vinegar is in recipes for dressings or vinaigrettes. If you follow many foodie blogs or celebrity chefs, you’ve undoubtedly heard the advice to add more salt and acid to make flavors pop and finish a dish.
What makes ACV an enticing choice is the fact that its natural antibacterial properties may help minimize the presence of potentially harmful bacteria on raw ingredients like leafy greens.
With the frequency of different lettuce recalls showing no sign of slowing and the desire to enjoy the benefits of leafy greens, having this added layer of protection in addition to thoroughly washing lettuce is a huge plus. Incorporating the ACV is very simple. Just swap it with any other vinegar called for in a recipe.
Summarizing the Potential Benefits of ACV
Though more research is needed for definitive answers, it appears that just 30 milliliters or roughly 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily is all one needs to reap the benefits of this naturally antibacterial liquid.
However, it should not be taken in place of healthy habits, diabetic medication, or as a weight loss supplement. Overuse or misuse has dangerous potential side effects like damage to tooth enamel, potassium deficiency, or dangerously low blood sugar in those with insulin sensitivities.
Marly is a lifestyle writer and creator of simplylivinghappy.com, a site dedicated to helping readers improve their health, wealth, mindset, and overall happiness. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her listening to audiobooks while gardening, visiting with family, or traveling.