Apple Cider Vinegar: 8 Ways It May Benefit Your Health
Although it’s recently gained popularity, the health benefits of apple cider vinegar have been known for thousands of years. Apple cider vinegar is believed to help control blood sugar levels, manage body weight, destroy harmful bacteria, and improve heart health, to name just a few of its health benefits.
However, more research is needed to confirm the health benefits of apple cider vinegar and establish whether it can be used as an alternative therapy.
So, in this article, we’re going to explain what apple cider vinegar is, in what ways it may potentially benefit your health, how to use it, and what side effects it may cause. So, without further ado, let’s dive right into it.
What Exactly Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made from apple juice which has undergone fermentation. Yeast is added to transform the natural sugar present in the juice into alcohol and then bacteria transform the alcohol into acetic acid.
And as we already said, apple cider vinegar has been consumed and used for medicinal purposes in various cultures for many years. For instance, it’s been used to treat sore throat, improve immunity, reduce cholesterol levels, and detoxify the blood and the liver. And in ancient times, people used it as a natural remedy to treat coughs and colds.
Today, in addition to being used as a natural remedy to help treat different conditions, apple cider vinegar is commonly used to flavour foods, such as marinades and salad dressings. Moreover, people commonly use it as a natural, non-toxic cleaner and disinfectant.
Now, let’s see in what ways apple cider vinegar may potentially benefit your health.
8 Potential Health Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar
1. It May Help Reduce Levels Of Blood Sugar And Treat Diabetes
The major characteristic of diabetes mellitus is hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar levels). Hyperglycemia can be caused by insulin deficiency or deficiency in the action of insulin. (1)
Nevertheless, even people that don’t have diabetes can benefit from managing their levels of blood sugar since elevated blood sugar levels are considered to cause different chronic conditions.
One way to control blood sugar levels is to avoid consuming foods that are rich in sugar and carbs. However, apple cider vinegar may be effective in regulating blood glucose levels as well.
For instance, one study showed that consuming 100 grams of lettuce dressed with 1 gram of vinegar and olive oil followed by white bread reduced blood glucose response in 5 healthy participants. (2)
Another study has found that vinegar enhances insulin sensitivity to meals rich in carbohydrates in people who have type 2 diabetes or are resistant to insulin. (3)
Then, another study indicated that consuming vinegar at bedtime may be effective in lowering fasting blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes the next morning (4).
An important thing we’d like to mention here is that although apple cider vinegar may be helpful in managing blood sugar levels if you are taking any blood-sugar-reducing prescription medications, do not replace them with apple cider vinegar, neither do you up your intake of this vinegar without consulting your healthcare provider first.
2. It May Be Effective For Weight Loss
Apple cider vinegar may help you lose weight.
Research shows that consuming vinegar can promote satiety, which, in turn, can cause you to consume fewer calories and shed pounds as a result.
For instance, one study, in which 12 healthy participants were asked to consume vinegar and white bread for breakfast, found that vinegar consumption increased satiety. (5)
Then, another 2009 study indicated that consuming vinegar lowered body fat, weight, and levels of triglycerides in Japanese people with obesity. (6)
However, it should be noted here that removing from or adding certain ingredients to your diet seldom leads to weight loss. You can lose weight by adopting healthy eating habits and exercising regularly. And when it comes to apple cider vinegar, it may be effective in promoting weight loss by decreasing insulin and blood sugar levels and promoting feelings of fullness. And as we already said, this vinegar is low in calories and sugar.
So, if you’re looking to lose weight, including apple cider vinegar in your diet may help you shed pounds.
3. It Contains Healthy Substances
Besides being low in calories and sugar, apple cider vinegar does not contain many minerals and vitamins. However, it contains small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium as well as certain substances that its possible health benefits can be attributed to. These substances include:
- Acetic acid. This acid gives apple cider vinegar its characteristic and strong aroma and sour flavour.
- Antioxidants help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals in your body.
- Friendly bacteria, i.e. probiotics, may benefit your gut health and immune system.
In addition, unfiltered apple cider vinegar has a substance known as the “mother,” which is actually a combination of natural friendly bacteria, enzymes, and proteins that forms during fermentation. The “mother” makes apple cider vinegar appear murky and many people believe that the majority of its health benefits can be attributed to this substance. However, there aren’t any studies currently to confirm this.
4. It May Improve Skin Health
One animal study has shown that applying topical acids to the skin is helpful in treating skin conditions, such as atopic dermatitis, by maintaining the pH of the surface of the skin and the function of the skin barrier. (7)
When it comes to apple cider vinegar, due to its antibacterial properties, it may be helpful in preventing and treating skin infections caused by eczema.
Some people dilute apple cider vinegar with water and add it to face toners and washes as it can help kill bacteria.
However, it’s worth mentioning that one study which included 22 people, 11 of which had atopic dermatitis and 11 did not), found that apple cider vinegar soaks didn’t have a considerable effect on the barrier of the skin and they also led to irritation in most participants. (8)
So, if you have skin conditions, consult your doctor prior to treating them with apple cider vinegar. Plus, do not apply this vinegar undiluted to your skin because it may cause burns.
5. It May Help Destroy Bad Bacteria
Vinegar has been used to treat ear infections, lice, and fungus in traditional healthcare practices for years. For example, Hippocrates used vinegar to disinfect wounds.
Another study indicated that vinegar also had antimicrobial activity against murine norovirus in raw green laver salad when stored in a refrigerator (11).
Additionally, some people claim that when diluted with water, apple cider vinegar may be helpful in treating acne, but there doesn’t appear to be any studies that can support this.
6. It May Help You Maintain Healthy Hair
Thanks to the acidity present in it, apple cider vinegar can help prevent dandruff formation and dryness of the hair. This vinegar balances the pH of both your hair and scalp and it can destroy bacteria that can cause itchy scalp, dandruff, and hair loss.
Another great thing about apple cider vinegar when it comes to the hair is that it can remove any residue you may have left in your hair from other products, such as shampoos, hair styling gels, hair conditioners, and other hair products.
Additionally, apple cider vinegar can help make your hair smooth, soft, and shiny. Plus, many people claim that this vinegar is very helpful in untangling hair.
7. It Can Improve Heart Health In Animals
Animal studies show that vinegar could improve risk factors for heart disease. Namely, vinegar intake can decrease total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels as well as triacylglycerols in animals. (12,13)
In addition, another study found that apple cider vinegar can decrease the risk of obesity in rats, and this condition is known to be one of the main risk factors for heart disease. (14)
Moreover, two other studies indicated that vinegar lowered blood pressure in rats with hypertension, and high blood pressure is also considered to be one of the main risk factors for heart disease. (15,16)
More research is needed to identify whether vinegar has this effect in humans as well.
8. It May Ease Symptoms Of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a condition that happens when the acid that your stomach produces moves up into your food pipe and causes symptoms, such as nausea, belching, unpleasant taste in your mouth, heartburn, and bloating.
Low stomach acid levels are often a cause of acid reflux. In this case, consuming apple cider vinegar may be helpful in relieving symptoms of acid reflux by providing the digestive tract with more acid to prevent acid backflow.
To prevent acid reflux, it is best to eat a diet that incorporates a lot of fermented fruits, vegetables, as well as healthy fats. You can also dilute 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 8 ounces of water and drink this before meals.
How To Consume Apple Cider Vinegar
To optimize the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, always choose to consume organic and unfiltered apple cider vinegar as it contains the “mother.”
You can use this vinegar in cooking to make salad dressings, mayonnaise, or marinades. You can also use it to preserve food.
Some people prefer to drink apple cider vinegar by diluting it with water. If you’re looking to drink apple cider vinegar, it’s recommended that you begin with small doses first. Dilute 1 to 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar with 240 millilitres of water. After a couple of weeks, you can increase the dose by 1 to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. You should rinse your mouth with water after consuming this vinegar.
Know that consuming apple cider vinegar in large amounts can cause erosion of your tooth enamel and it may even interact with some medications.
You can also dilute apple cider vinegar with tea.
In addition, you can buy apple cider vinegar supplements, such as apple cider vinegar gummies. These supplements contain concentrated apple cider vinegar, fruit extracts, and vitamins. They’re believed to be helpful in managing blood sugar levels, improving metabolism and the immune system, and promoting weight loss.
Apple Cider Vinegar Diet
What Is It And How Can It Benefit Your Health?
This type of diet involves incorporating a couple of spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar into your diet. The apple cider vinegar diet requires you to consume 1 to 2 tablespoons of this vinegar with each meal or before eating. Consuming apple cider vinegar this way can make you feel satiated for longer.
Another variation of this diet involves consuming apple cider vinegar combined with honey before eating.
In addition to promoting feelings of fullness, the apple cider vinegar diet is believed to be effective in burning body fat, improving metabolism, and regulating blood sugar levels.
Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects
Consuming apple cider vinegar in small doses is generally safe. But, if it is consumed in large quantities, apple cider vinegar may cause side effects. These side effects include:
- Erosion of the enamel of your teeth.
- Delayed stomach emptying
- Bone loss
- Low levels of potassium in the blood
- Throat burns
- Medication interactions
Apple cider vinegar may interact with some medications, such as diuretic, heart disease, and diabetes medications and the drug Lanoxin. In addition, people having gastroparesis should avoid consuming this vinegar.
Note: To prevent side effects, consume only up to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar diluted with 240 millilitres of water a day.
- Apple cider vinegar has been used as a traditional natural remedy and in cooking for thousands of years.
- Apple cider vinegar is made from fermented apple juice.
- Besides containing healthy substances, apple cider vinegar offers a variety of potential health benefits. It may help lower blood sugar levels, treat diabetes, manage body weight, improve skin health, kill bad bacteria, maintain healthy hair, improve heart health in animals, and alleviate symptoms of acid reflux.
- Apple cider vinegar should never be consumed concentrated. You should always dilute it with water prior to drinking it.
- It’s recommended that you consume up to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar a day.
- The apple cider vinegar diet involves consuming 1 to 2 tablespoons of this vinegar before eating or with each meal.
- If it is consumed in large amounts, apple cider vinegar can cause side effects, such as nausea, tooth enamel erosion, low potassium levels, throat burns, and drug interaction, to name just a few.