Fermentation is such an amazing process. Picture this; hundreds of tiny yeast feeding off of the sugars in your food. How cool is that?
Not only are our fermented foods alive, they are also effectively preserving our food at the same time. It is crazy to think of the amount of fermented foods in our lives: vinegar, bread, coffee, cheese, beer, wine and yogurt just to name a few.
I bring up fermented foods because I have a friend who swears by apple cider vinegar for all of her ailments. As a Registered Dietitian, I like to do my research and try to make sense of why people try things like taking a shot of apple cider vinegar every day.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is intriguing because doing a basic Google search will turn up hundreds of articles on “Why you should drink Apple Cider Vinegar Everyday” or “Different uses for Apple Cider Vinegar.” Talk about overwhelming!
So, why is it praised so highly in the natural world?
Apple cider vinegar is unique because it has a high concentration of acetic acid. Acetic acid is the chemical name for the compound in vinegar which makes gives it its tart taste and potential health benefits.
It is thought to help with infections, blood sugar support and even weight loss.
ACV has been traditionally used for centuries as a method of treating wounds due to its antibacterial properties. Although ACV is well known for its role in staving off bacteria while preserving foods, little research has been done to show that it is an effective antibiotic.
When it comes to immunity and fungal infections, that’s another story.
The acetic acid in ACV has been shown to help combat unfavorable fungal growth. In addition, many avid users add it to a warm bath or to a humidifier to help with allergies or sinus infections.
The pectin in ACV is a prebiotic. While probiotics are responsible for introducing new “good” bacteria into your gut, prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that help feed the good bacteria in your gut.
Think of prebiotics as being the fertilizer to your immunity garden. Having these good guys in your tummy can help build up your immune system to help fight against infections.
Blood Sugar Support
Most people ask me, “but does it actually work”? The truthful answer is yes and no.
Plenty of human studies have shown that apple cider vinegar has an anti-glycemic effect. It is thought to be effective because acetic acid helps lower the glycemic index of the starch you are consuming. One nutrition review concluded that ACV is believed to have “anti-glycemic effects by suppressing carbohydrate absorption.”
Although some studies say that it is much more effective in healthy or pre-diabetic individuals, it can also help curb hunger which helps with those carb-tastic cravings.
Increases Mineral Absorption
Most people think that drinking apple cider vinegar with their food increases the bioavailability of the nutrients in that food. This, to some extent is actually true. It seems as though the research has only shown apple cider to be effective in increasing calcium absorption. One study shows that animals who had low calcium levels but then supplemented with vinegar, had an increase in calcium levels.
This would be most applicable to individuals who have a tough time with dairy but need to get their daily dose of calcium. The best way to achieve this is by having your apple cider vinegar with dark leafy greens. Spinach, collards, kale and bok choy are all great sources of calcium. Here’s my recipe for a dressing to marinate the greens in:
- 1 Tbsp Grainy Mustard
- 1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 tsp orange juice
- Pinch of salt, 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Mix everything together in a small bowl and drizzle over your dark leafy greens.
The research articles are split on apple cider vinegar and weight loss. That being said, adding apple cider vinegar to a typical western diet (pizza, candy, chips etc.) may not be the magical weight loss solution you are looking for.
When it comes to weight loss, I think Michael Pollan said it best; “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” What I am getting at here is that just drinking apple cider alone will not help you lose weight. Once you find that balance of moderation, try experimenting with apple cider vinegar to see if it helps spur extra weight loss or curb your appetite.
On a side note, a few studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can have an effect on lipid metabolism. This can be very beneficial for heart health because it can improve your lipid levels towards heart healthy goals. Although the research is not conclusive, you can try adding apple cider vinegar to your healthy diet to see if it boosts your health goals.
Tips for How to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar
So you’ve read this far and now you are interested in trying out apple cider vinegar? Well you have a few options:
- Look for an unfiltered apple cider vinegar (and cinnamon if you want additional blood sugar support). If it’s concentrated, dilute with 8-10 ounces of water and drink. It’s as easy as that!
- Want to try making your own apple cider vinegar? Here’s a recipe I like!
- Buy unfiltered apple cider vinegar and dilute 1 Tbsp with 6-8 ounces of water and 1 tsp of honey. Take with every meal.
- Follow these TIPS when adding apple cider vinegar to your diet:
• To avoid erosion of your teeth enamel and esophagus, you should definitely dilute it at a ratio of at least 1:1 with water.
• Consume during your starchy meals for the best blood sugar support results.
• Consume at least 2 tablespoons a day for best results
• Do not take on an empty stomach, it has been known to cause an upset stomach if taken alone.
While pursuing her education, Emily has worked in the health and nutrition industry for 6 years. She has held positions in the Food Management industry as well as in Food Research and Development. In her free time, Emily enjoys cooking, traveling, playing soccer and hiking the greenbelt with her dog.