Apple cider vinegar is one of the simplest, most inexpensive tools that should be in every home cupboard. This versatile secret weapon takes on bacteria, blood sugar issues, sore throats, coughs, gallstones, cardiovascular concerns, fungus, digestive challenges, and more. Of all the herbs, health protocols, and superfoods, ACV may benefit the most people and have the greatest variety of benefits. It’s also very inexpensive!
WHAT IS ACV?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made by fermenting crushed apples and allowing the sugars to convert to alcohol. Manufacturers then add bacteria to ferment the alcohol further, turning it into a particular organic acid called acetic acid. Acetic acid is the component of vinegar that gives it a sour fragrance and flavor. Most types of vinegar are 4%-7% acetic acid, and cider and wine vinegars are right in the middle, at 5%-6% acetic acid.
But what makes ACV better than other kinds of vinegar? Apple cider vinegar contains multiple organic acids (acetic, citric, formic, lactic, malic, and succinic). These acids come with various health benefits all on their own, including:
- Anti-inflammatory effects (1)
- Endothelial (skin) cell support (2)
- Serving as fuel for your cells (3) (4)
- Supporting the immune response (3) and
- Anti-microbial effects (5)
Not all Vinegar is Created Equal!
ACV has gained so much popularity in recent years that it is now available nearly anywhere you can find basic white vinegar! To get the full, nutritional benefits, be sure to get organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with “the mother.” “The mother” is the name given to the good bacteria used to turn the fermented apple cider into vinegar. It typically has a cloudy, somewhat stringy appearance. Don’t let that throw you; it is composed of good bacteria and yeasts. Just turn the bottle upside down a time or two to mix well and get all that goodness mixed into the bottle before pouring yourself a shot.
Nutrients in Apple Cider Vinegar
Phenolic compounds are also plentiful in ACV (6). These include gallic acid and catechin, which have been shown to hinder the growth of cancer cells; in fact, they are toxic to cancer cells! (7) (8). Epicatechin is another phenolic compound that promotes muscle growth (9). Chlorogenic acid helps reduce the uptake of carbohydrates and glucose during digestion, potentially helping maintain a healthy weight. (10) Caffeic acid acts as an anti-inflammatory, and some research has also shown it may slow the progression of cancer (11). P-coumaric acid is yet another anti-inflammatory and scavenges free radicals (12).
On top of that, ACV contains the electrolytes potassium, magnesium, and calcium, which are important for regulating chemical reactions and maintaining fluid balance in cells. (13) You’re probably familiar with the electrolyte drinks and powders marketed to athletes. Rather than consuming all those unhealthy, brightly colored, sugary drinks, consider adding some apple cider vinegar water.
Not only is ACV great at helping to maintain function, but it also contains several vitamins and nutrients the body needs as well. ACV is loaded with B vitamins from B1, B2, B6, biotin (B7), the natural, easy-to-use form of what is commonly known as folic acid (B9), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), and vitamin C. All B vitamins help convert carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into the proper fuel and building blocks the body uses. Vitamin C is legendary in its function in the immune system, as well as supporting healthy inflammation levels and regulating the effects of free radicals.
It isn’t just vitamins; apple cider vinegar also contains minerals that support healthy functions. Outside of the electrolytes mentioned above, ACV also contains iron. While iron isn’t an electrolyte, it has an important task list as well. Iron supports the red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body. This is why when iron levels are low, fatigue is usually intense. That’s not all; iron also plays a role in gastrointestinal processes, the immune response, and helps maintain and regulate body temperature.
This humble little vinegar sure packs a punch, even beyond the smell!
Health Benefits of ACV
Blood Sugar, Insulin Resistance, and Weight Loss
Numerous studies have shown ACV’s ability to support proper insulin function and healthy blood sugar levels. These findings can offer hope and alternatives for those who’ve struggled, especially anyone who wants to start taking care of their body before having a health crisis.
In a 2004 study (14), participants received a meal of a white bagel, butter, and orange juice. They were also given 4 teaspoons of ACV. In insulin-resistant participants, insulin levels decreased, and insulin sensitivity increased. The results suggest taking 1-2 tablespoons before each meal may help to keep your blood sugar stable.
Other studies looked at other variables, including fasting glucose rates (15) and increased satiety, which also may help with weight loss (16) and restoring ovulatory function in women with PCOS (17).
These studies point to the need for ACV to be taken seriously as a possible addition to people’s wellness toolbox.
ACV has long been used by those plagued by heartburn, acid reflux, diarrhea, vomiting, and a host of other digestive maladies. ACV has a similar pH to stomach acid. Many people believe the cause of heartburn and acid reflux has to do with too much acid in the stomach. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily true. Often, it stems from not having enough stomach acid!
Taking ACV can provide the stomach with the acid needed to function as it should. Stomach acid helps sterilize and break down food so the nutrients extracted from the foods are available to the gut at the right time without additional bacteria that shouldn’t be! The timing of how the stomach empties and how well food is sterilized is crucial to digestive health and requires the right amount of acid. When everything is functioning correctly, this also helps reduce gas and bloating.
Without adequate stomach acid creating the proper pH, you wouldn’t be able to kill microbes or parasites hiding in your food. After all, even whole, organic food has the potential to carry microorganisms if not prepared properly and may end up triggering an immune response in the small intestine. The gut is prepared to handle microbes and pathogens, but if unsterilized foods get through, it can trigger a cascade of events leading to dis-ease, including bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine (SIBO).
Supports Gut Flora
Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties. The acetic acid mentioned above can kill harmful bacteria. Not only does it not harm the good flora in your gut, but it actually supports it.
Taking a tablespoon or two of ACV every day may set up your gastrointestinal tract for success by supporting your gut flora. If it burns, it may mean you have a fungus overgrowth. I It is possible to test to determine whether the required and beneficial flora is in the correct place in the GI. ACV can be used topically for fungi, too. Some people have used apple cider vinegar to combat athlete’s foot by soaking their feet in apple cider vinegar.
Gallstones are hard substances that are usually formed from excess cholesterol or bilirubin, which the bile of the gallbladder couldn’t sufficiently break down. These pieces can range from pebble size to much larger and cause significant pain and discomfort. Typically, the only solution given by many doctors is to remove the gallbladder; however, that results in no bile storage to help aid in digestion.
Studies have shown that ACV can support a healthy level of total cholesterol found in the blood. With possibly less cholesterol in the bloodstream, there is less risk of excess building up, causing problems in the gallbladder.
Circulation, Coughs, and Cramps
Apple cider vinegar is a natural vasodilator. Vasodilators encourage the muscles of the walls of arteries and veins to open (dilate) so that blood can flow more easily. With blood flowing easier, the heart doesn’t have to work as hard, which results in lower blood pressure. This phenomenon can also help in reducing coughs and cramps as blood flow increases and muscles relax.
Apple cider vinegar has many uses in everyday life that don’t involve drinking it. To read more about this versatile superhero, check out this article!
ACV can assist in many health and wellness concerns. If you feel your body isn’t functioning properly and could use some support, find a Wellness Way practitioner. We can help you determine which method of support would benefit your body best. We do health differently!
- Anti-obesity and anti-inflammatory effects of synthetic acetic acid vinegar and Nipa vinegar on high-fat-diet-induced obese mice: NIH
- The Cardioprotective Effects of Citric Acid and L-Malic Acid on Myocardial Ischemia/Reperfusion Injury: NIH
- Lactic Acid: Cleveland Clinic
- Putative Prophylaxes of Aloe Vera Juice with L-arginine to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Research
- Production of organic acids and enzymes/biocatalysts from food waste: ScienceDirect
- Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar and Other Common Vinegars: A Review: Relias Media
- Gallic acid sources, health benefits and, uses: Naturalpedia
- What are Catechins?: News Medical Life Sciences
- Complete Guide To Epicatechin: Prohormones
- Antidiabetic medicinal plants as a source of alpha glucosidase inhibitors: PubMed
- What to know about caffeic acid: MedicalNewsToday
- A Review of Analytical Methods for p-Coumaric Acid in Plant-Based Products, Beverages, and Biological Matrices: PubMed
- Electrolytes: Cleveland Clinic
- Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes: American Diabetes Association
- Vinegar Ingestion at Bedtime Moderates Waking Glucose Concentrations in Adults With Well-Controlled Type 2 Diabetes: American Diabetes Association
- Vinegar supplementation lowers glucose and insulin responses and increases satiety after a bread meal in healthy subjects: PubMed
- Intake of vinegar beverage is associated with restoration of ovulatory function in women with polycystic ovary syndrome: PubMed