Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has been a secret weapon in the pantries of holistic believers and nutritionists alike. Thanks to online communities like Pinterest, users everywhere have been sharing all the ways they use this healthy, yet pungent, natural fix-all, cure-all.
While some of the benefits of ACV are simply folklore passed down from generations, others are backed by research and scientific evidence.
You guys know me; I’m always interested in learning more about healthy, natural ingredients, and figuring out how to incorporate them in my lifestyle. So I had to investigate further.
Have you ever picked up a bottle of raw apple cider vinegar?
The first time I saw ACV in its unfiltered state, it was like peering into a science experiment; there was a ‘blob’ of something stringy floating in the center and the strands that came off it were suspended in brownish liquid.
You could definitely say I was intrigued.
What is apple cider vinegar made of?
To make apple cider vinegar, chunks of cut up apples are mixed with water and then left to ferment. After a few weeks, the apple chunks are removed and the mixture continues to ferment for a few more weeks.
The natural sugars found in the apples actually turn the mix into a form of alcohol. While the mix is fermenting, healthy bacteria begin to form and eventually produce the vinegar’s star attraction, acetic acid. This is what’s responsible for many of ACV’s health benefits on my list below.
The ‘blob’ that I referred to in the beginning of this post is actually known as the ‘mother.’ This floaty structure contains some of the essential enzymes and friendly bacteria found in ACV.
The mother is another one of the components thought to make ACV so healthy, which makes it super important to buy varieties that are raw and unfiltered instead of the transparent distilled options without the mother. I know that the murky ones don’t look too appealing, but that’s where you’re going to find all the health benefits you’re looking for.
In today’s article, I’ll explore 8 scientifically backed reasons to consume unfiltered AVC, you might have a few of your own to share too. So if you do, be sure to leave me your comments below 🙂
1. Reduce oxidative stress
As a natural consequence of being exposed to our environment, the body is always trying to keep a balance on the amount of reactive oxygen species we have. You might have heard of oxidative stress or ‘free radicals’ before.
Too much oxidative stress can cause damage to our DNA and disruptions in normal cellular metabolism, which can lead to the development of disease. Suffice to say that we want to help our body deal with reactive oxygen species more efficiently.
And it turns out that ACV can help us with that.
A study in the Journal of Membrane Metabolism showed that ACV induces a protective effect “against erythrocyte [red blood cells], kidney, and liver oxidative injury”, demonstrating that ACV has “oxidative stress scavenging effects”, and “increases the levels of antioxidant enzymes and vitamins”.
We need antioxidants to donate stable molecules to free radicals, so all and all that already puts ACV in my good books and we’re just at number 1 on my list!
2. Heart health
I found this study dating back to 2001, that focused on acetic acid and examined the effects of long term use of vinegar. It turns out that the acetic acid showed significant reductions in both blood pressure and renin activity, which is responsible for regulating blood pressure, thirst, and urine output.
Another study done on rats looked into using apple cider vinegar to reduce cholesterol levels. Over the course of 19 days, rats were fed a diet containing no cholesterol, 1% cholesterol without any acetic acid, or a diet containing 1% cholesterol and 0.3% acetic acid.
The result showed that the rats on the acetic acid diet had reduced levels of both cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The study concluded that this result was due to the inhibition of lipogenesis in the liver, which prevents the storage of fat in the liver.
Although these results are promising, they’ve only been proven in animals. However, this next observational study using human participants does get us one step closer.
3. Blood sugar levels
In addition to helping your heart, apple cider vinegar has some solid evidence to support the fact that it helps lower blood glucose levels.
A team of researchers at Arizona State University studied four men and seven women between the ages of 40-72 with type 2 diabetes. Over 70% of the participants studied were on medication for hyperglycemia. Blood glucose levels were tracked three days before the study and tracked during the official two day trial period.
Participants were given either water and a 1 oz piece of cheese or apple cider vinegar and a piece of cheese to eat right before bedtime. A ‘washout’ period was used in between trials so that individuals could repeat the study in the opposite group.
The study revealed that fasting glucose decreased by 6% in participants whose fasting glucose was over 130 mg/dl.
Another study also conducted out of Arizona State and led by Carol S. Johnson, examined the effects of ACV on glucose even further.
This time, 8 insulin sensitive, 11 insulin resistant, and 10 subjects with type 2 diabetes were studied. These individuals were not taking any medications prior to or during this trial.
Participants were given either a placebo drink or a drink mixed with ACV, water, and sugar. After about two minutes, everyone was given a white bagel with butter and a glass of orange juice.
Fasting glucose levels were measured at 30 and 60 minute post-meal intervals.
Those who ingested the vinegar saw an increase in insulin sensitivity in comparison with the placebo group, and highlight that post meal insulin sensitivity is especially improved in insulin resistant subjects, and also has a mild effect for type 2 diabetics.
What these studies suggest is that ACV can help to regulate blood sugar levels.
4. Weight loss
Controlling blood sugar levels is also beneficial for weight loss and that makes ACV an excellent option if you’re trying to shed some excess pounds. By controlling your blood sugar levels, you’ll also reduce your cravings for unhealthy foods.
You may remember me praising another benefit of ACV in my favorite fat melting drink. I love to use it as an appetite suppressor. You’re basically getting a double dose of craving fighters. Who wouldn’t want that?
But let’s take a look at the research:
In a study in the US National Library of Medicine, 12 volunteers were studied and given one of three levels of vinegar: 18, 23, or 28 mmol of acetic acid. Subjects were then fed about 50 g of carbohydrates via some white bread. The control group ate the white bread without the addition of vinegar.
Thanks to the acetic acid found in the vinegar, the blood samples taken about 120 minutes post-meal showed that higher amounts of the acetic acid resulted in lower blood glucose and insulin levels.
In addition to lowering blood sugar, subjects given the higher amounts of vinegar also reported higher rates of satiety (feeling full). Feeling full after a meal is huge for anyone looking to lose weight because that means you can eat less and stop the urge to overeat and indulge.
6. Stops hiccups
One of the cooler benefits that I learned about ACV is its ability to stop and prevent hiccups. I first came across this fun fact when I stumbled upon this article in Mashable.
Using clinical trials from the early 70s, Mallory Kievman, a 13-year-old girl from Connecticut, invented hiccup stopping lollipops using a mixture of sugar and apple cider vinegar.
Hiccupops are still being sold today and Kievman even has a patent on the product.
7. Kills bacteria
Another interesting property of ACV is its antimicrobial power. Not only can it be used as a disinfectant for household surfaces, but it can also do the same for our bodies.
Researchers Entani & colleagues concluded that vinegar may help kill off Escherichia coli, or E coli. According to the results, a mix of vinegar and sodium chloride in hot temperatures was used and resulted in an effective prevention method of bacterial food poisoning.
Candida species is another type of bacteria that can thrive in the body and cause havoc to your health. Mota & colleagues conducted lab tests on the bacteria species and found that ACV showed anti-fungal properties against it.
8. Heartburn and stomach ache relief
In addition to being antimicrobial, ACV’s acidity may also help your heartburn.
When you have heartburn, the acid in your stomach regurgitates back into your esophagus. Even though ACV is acidic, when it’s in the body it actually neutralizes acids and restores pH levels.
The end result is that instead of reaching for over-the-counter medications, you may be able to enjoy less heartburn and stomach upset by drinking a simple ACV mixture. Try mixing two or three teaspoons of ACV in an 8 oz glass of warm water and drink when heartburn arises.
According to Carol S Johnston, PhD RD, doctors have been using ACV for stomach aches since the late 18th century. Who knew?
In addition to these eight benefits, you may come across some articles promoting the fact that ACV can be used to treat sunburn, warts, allergies, leg cramps, and even sore throats.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough evidence to support these claims but since many of these natural remedies have been used for centuries, there must be some truth to it, don’t you think?
But even though ACV sounds like it’s full of goodness, you still have to be careful about certain attributes when you use it.
Apple cider vinegar precautions
Because ACV is so acidic, it’s something you don’t want to go crazy on.
For starters, ACV can wear away tooth enamel. On top of that, some people have reported sore throats or even severe acne when using apple cider vinegar regularly. Many people attribute the acne to the ACV clearing out the body’s impurities, which unluckily enough comes out through our pores.
As for medication interactions, there have been concerns that ACV can alter diuretics and insulin medications. Pregnant or nursing mothers should speak with their doctors before adding ACV since it may be too strong for babies.
Like anything you add to your diet, just monitor how you feel. If you notice anything different and you’ve recently added something like ACV, then you know it doesn’t agree with you. Most people won’t experience any side effects but it’s always good to mention.
Well there you have it!
With 8 amazing benefits backed by science, and at least 10-15 more natural benefits that have yet to be proven, it’s easy to see why ACV is an essential component to any healthy lifestyle.
Have you tried using apple cider vinegar for any of the conditions I’ve listed?
I’d love to hear about your favorite way to use it!