Apple cider vinegar (or ACV) is one of the most popular health trends out there today, touted by many to be an amazing at-home remedy for a number of ailments and concerns.
But is apple cider vinegar really all it’s cracked up to be? Or is it just another overrated or potentially dangerous health trend?
WHAT IS APPLE CIDER VINEGAR?
Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice through a two-step process. Once the initial fermentation process is complete, the second and most important step includes adding bacteria to ferment the alcohol even further.
This creates what is known as acetic acid, the active compound in vinegar that gives apple cider vinegar its signature smell and sour taste.
It’s actually this acetic acid that many researchers believe gives apple cider vinegar most of its wellness benefits. Apple cider vinegar is made up of about 5-6% acetic acid.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFICIAL PROPERTIES OF APPLE CIDER VINEGAR?
Antimicrobial & Antibacterial
Apple cider vinegar’s history can be traced all the way back to Hippocrates, also known as the father of modern medicine. As the legend goes, Hippocrates utilized vinegar’s antimicrobial and antibacterial properties to treat the wounds of his patients thousands of years ago. These properties make apple cider vinegar effective when it comes to disinfecting and cleaning, and it may even help it naturally kill germs and bacteria.
Apple cider vinegar contains antioxidant properties that can help combat free radical damage in the body, this can play a major role in slowing down the aging process.
Acetic acid content
Apple cider vinegar is made up of about 5-6% acetic acid. Researchers generally believe that this is likely where apple cider vinegar gets most of its benefits.
The “Mother” Aka Probiotics
The “mother” refers to the combination of yeast and bacteria that form during fermentation. If you look at an apple cider vinegar bottle, you can see strands of the “mother” floating around. The “mother” is the murky-looking strands you see floating around in the bottle. Many people also believe that much of apple cider vinegar’s benefits come from this “mother,” as it is a probiotic. However, more research is needed on the benefits of the “mother” in ACV.
BENEFITS OF APPLE CIDER VINEGAR: FACTS VS FICTION
- IS APPLE CIDER VINEGAR GOOD FOR ME?
It’s true that apple cider vinegar does contain properties that can be beneficial for your health when used correctly (especially its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties).
- DOES APPLE CIDER VINEGAR HELP PRESERVE FOOD?
Vinegar is traditionally used as a method of preserving food. It’s true that AVC can be used as a natural and effective way to preserve your food and clean your house without the use of chemicals.
- IS APPLE CIDER VINEGAR NUTRITIOUS?
Nutritionally, apple cider vinegar’s vitamin profile can be compared to apple juice (besides the probiotic factor). It’s generally accepted that apple cider vinegar doesn’t contain a high amount of essential vitamins and minerals.
- IS ONE TYPE OF APPLE CIDER VINEGAR HEALTHIEST?
When choosing an apple cider vinegar, the organic and unfiltered variation is often considered to be the most nutritionists, because it contains the “mother” (the friendly probiotic bacteria).
- CAN APPLE CIDER VINEGAR CLEAR UP MY SKIN AND SOOTHE DRY SKIN OR ECZEMA?
Some people claim that when applied topically, apple cider vinegar can improve skin’s appearance, because it is naturally acidic and may help rebalance the skin’s pH.
However, when we looked at the research, it appears that there isn’t much evidence out there to support this claim. In fact, in one study conducted on 22 people suffering from eczema, all participants reported that apple cider vinegar soaks did not help their eczema and actually caused skin irritation.
- WILL APPLE CIDER VINEGAR HELP ME LOSE WEIGHT?
There is a chance that it may help to control your appetite. There have been some human studies pointing to evidence that adding apple cider vinegar to your diet may help create feelings of fullness that support healthy weight maintenance.
However, it’s important to point out that participants of these studies were on calorie-restrictive diets that included exercise, and the overall results were modest. One study found that participants taking vinegar with a high carb meal ate 200–275 fewer calories throughout the day and reported feelings of increased fullness. All in all, apple cider vinegar will not replace a healthy diet and lifestyle when it comes to losing weight long-term.
- IS APPLE CIDER VINEGAR GOOD FOR MY HEART?
Many believe a benefit of apple cider vinegar is that it may help promote heart health and even assist with lowering blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and cholesterol. However, we’re going to categorize this one as an apple cider vinegar myth, since these studies were conducted on animals and there simply isn’t any scientific evidence to support the claim that vinegar can benefit heart health in humans.
- WILL AN APPLE CIDER VINEGAR RINSE IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF MY HAIR?
Some claim that using apple cider as a hair treatment can help promote a healthy scalp by eliminating bacteria, balancing your scalp’s pH level, and as a gentle exfoliator.
There is little published research on this famous ancient Roman remedy of using an apple cider vinegar hair rinse. Since apple cider vinegar is generally considered safe, this may be one that you will have to test for yourself before deciding. However, it’s important to remember that if you’re suffering from hair loss, apple cider vinegar will not treat or cure the underlying causes and it’s important to consult with a doctor for professional treatment.
- DOES APPLE CIDER VINEGAR HELP CONTROL BLOOD SUGAR?
In one study published in the Journal of the American Association of Diabetes, it was reported that participants given 20 grams of apple cider vinegar after a meal containing a buttered bagel and orange juice had post-meal blood glucose levels significantly lower than those given a placebo.
However, although a number of studies reported similar findings, there is still more research to be done
THE BEST WAYS TO USE APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
If you want to try incorporating apple cider vinegar into your routine, it’s generally considered safe when used correctly. The preferred and safest way to consume apple cider vinegar is by adding it into your diet through cooking. You can add it to salad dressings for example. It’s best to start with smaller amounts in your diet and gauge how you feel before proceeding.
It’s always recommended to avoid taking large amounts of apple cider vinegar and to never drink apple cider vinegar pure, as its acidity can cause damage to your digestive system.
Some people enjoy buying or making beverages that incorporate apple cider vinegar. If you choose this route, it’s important to dilute the apple cider vinegar to avoid any gastrointestinal complications.
Typical doses of apple cider vinegar usually range from 1-2 teaspoons to 1-2 tablespoons per day combined with a large glass or two of water, for example.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR PRECAUTIONS
SIMILARLY TO ANY DIETARY SUPPLEMENT, IT IS POSSIBLE TO GO OVERBOARD AND EVEN DAMAGE YOUR HEALTH. HERE ARE A FEW PRECAUTIONS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING AN APPLE CIDER VINEGAR ROUTINE.
- Apple cider vinegar, when consumed in excess, may lead to the erosion of tooth enamel. That’s why it’s always recommended to dilute your apple cider vinegar and drink it with a large glass of water.
- Apple cider vinegar may not be suitable for those with kidney disease.
- It’s always best to consult with your personal physician before starting an apple cider vinegar routine, especially if you have a preexisting condition or are on medication.
- There’s always a chance that acidic foods and beverages can irritate acid reflux.
- Apple cider vinegar (or any type of vinegar) may not be suitable for those taking blood-sugar-lowering medications. Always be sure to check with your doctor before increasing your vinegar intake.
- Apple cider vinegar, although it may have some wellness benefits, will not replace the need for a healthy lifestyle if you want to stay healthy and feel your best.
- Overall, more studies and research are needed to understand the true potential of apple cider vinegar when it comes to health benefits.
THE BOTTOM LINE
All in all, although apple cider vinegar is considered an ancient remedy, it still has a way to go when it comes to modern research and confirmation as a recognized alternative therapy.
On the plus side, studies show that it appears to be safe when used correctly and not in excessive amounts. This means that you can use the information here to decide whether or not you’d like to try this health trend for yourself!
Many people stand by their apple cider vinegar routine and include it religiously in their daily diets, but it’s important to remember that apple cider vinegar doesn’t have much solid research behind it and should never be used to replace medical treatment. When in doubt, always consult with a medical professional.