The Amazing Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
What’s All This Fuss About Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has hit the modern health world by storm. It is sure to pop up all over the show, whether listed as a weight loss aid, cleaning solution, or natural skin toner. If you are like me, then perhaps you got the impression from your Mom that vinegar – like salt its preserving cousin – was not terribly healthy for one, and definitely not a health tonic!
Vinegar is a fermented food, similar (but not the same) to Kombucha (read the differences between vinegar and Kombucha for a more detailed explanation).
Different Types of Vinegar
Before we go on, it is important to realize the differences between spirit vinegar (commonly used as a cheaper substitute for natural vinegar) and natural vinegars.
Natural vinegars are produced through a process of fermentation. The fermentation process is thanks to a special vinegar culture called ‘mother of vinegar’. This culture is made up of different strains of bacteria and yeasts. Once it is fermented, natural vinegar is a probiotic containing beneficial and health promoting bacteria and yeasts. Not only that, natural, fermented vinegars also contain vitamins, minerals and enzymes produced by the microbes.
If you brew Kombucha from a mother SCOBY, natural vinegar such as Apple Cider Vinegar is also created via a similar process from a ‘mother’ culture which looks similar to a Kombucha SCOBY
There are many, many different kinds of natural vinegar such as rice vinegar, wine vinegar, beer vinegar, balsamic vinegar, coconut vinegar, malt vinegar, cane vinegar, raisin vinegar, black fig vinegar, date vinegar etc. Fermented vinegars can be made out of almost any food substance which contains adequate amounts of glucose or starch.
Spirit vinegar on the other hand is not a product of fermentation. Spirit vinegar is a man-made solution of water and acetic acid. Acetic acid is one of the acids produced in traditionally fermented vinegars, that is why spirit vinegar also tastes tart and can act as a preservative and cleaning agent the same as a natural vinegar. Spirit vinegar is not however a probiotic, and does not contain vitamins, enzymes or minerals.
It is these nutritional components present in natural vinegar, of which apple cider vinegar is one, which causes it to be heralded as such a health promoting substance.
In this post we are going to concentrate on apple cider vinegar.
The Special Stuff in Apple Cider Vinegar
Because it is a product of fermentation, apple cider vinegar (sometimes known as ACV) contains beneficial bacteria and yeasts, as well as the products which these little micro-organisms manufacture while doing their fermenting job. These include B1, B2, B6, biotin, folic acid, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin C, and small amounts of magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, sodium, pectin and phosphorous. It also contains good amounts of acetic acid and citric acid.
The vitamins, minerals and beneficial acids can be found in all brands and types of apple cider vinegar. The probiotic benefits however do not make it through to pasteurized or treated forms of apple cider vinegar. If you wish to enjoy the probiotic benefits of apple cider vinegar, then it is necessary to purchase a raw and unpasteurized variety. (AFFILIATE LINK?)
Note: Consuming unpasteurized vinegars is not dangerous is any way, but there is a possibility of them being contaminated by vinegar eels. Vinegar eels are not hazardous to one’s health or parasitic and merely pass through the body if ingested. However the idea of consuming them accidentally is not pleasant. You can easily avoid this by knowing how to check the different brands to make sure that the one you are purchasing has not been contaminated by any squiggly creatures. For more info on vinegar eels, you can read this post related to vinegar eels in kombucha.
Health Benefits Linked to the Usage of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar, like many other natural remedies, has a decidedly wide range of benefits and uses. You might find that as you are taking it to treat one specific ailment, some others clear up automatically. Make sure you check out our 50+ Amazing Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar.
Here is a list of the main health uses of apple cider vinegar according to science and individuals.
Cleansing & Detoxing
By helping the bowels to function optimally, detoxifying the kidneys and purifying the blood, taking apple cider vinegar internally can go a long way to giving oneself an internal spring clean. An internal spring clean can have all sorts of spin off benefits such clearing of skin problems, clear eyes, reduced body odour, higher energy levels, improved concentration, strengthened immune system, eradication of body or joint pains, etc.
Weight loss & Appetite Control
Hype abounds regarding the fact that consuming small amounts of apple cider before meals can assist with weight loss. While some of these claims are probably quite exaggerated, there is scientific proof that apple cider can actually reduce appetite and sugar cravings, resulting in improved weight loss. A study done in 2009 which was published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry, reported that subjects who consumed acetic acid for twelve weeks experienced significant declines in body weight, waist circumference and abdominal fat. The maths behind this is that acetic acid in ACV reduces blood sugar spikes (which cause hunger pangs), and increase satiety. The organic acids and enzymes also cause the body’s metabolism to speed up, making it more difficult for the body to store fat from ingested food.
Alkalising the Body & Reducing Acidity
Modern diets often have an acidifying effect on our bodies. Processed foods and high amounts of refined sugar and starches are mainly responsible for this. Because apple cider vinegar is acidic, once consumed it turns into an ‘alkaliser’ (the same is true of fruit and vegetables, acidic outside the body = alkalising within). Reducing acidity in the body can ease joint pain, reduce inflammation and the chance of infection, and result in increased energy. Ongoing acidity in the body over a number of years has been linked to increased chances of cancer, heart attacks and strokes. Considering that it is so easy to end up eating an acidifying diet, the fact that consuming moderate amounts of ACV per day can also keep your body’s ph level up is quite a bonus!
Getting Rid of Heartburn & Indigestion
Heart burn, or acid reflux, is actually due to not enough stomach acids, rather than what it often feels like, too much stomach acids. If the stomach is not producing enough digestive acids, or the meal eaten was too large for the stomach acids present, then indigestion sets in. Apple cider vinegar has the effect that it mimics the action of the stomach acids, and can boost digestion when heartburn is experienced.
Assisting the Body to Reduce Candida Levels
As a powerful probiotic, apple cider vinegar can be very beneficial for digestive systems which are compromised by overly high levels of candida. Re-colonizing the gut with beneficial bacteria has the effect of crowding out the Candida albicans yeast, and bringing it down to normal levels. The beneficial bacteria will then assist the body to heal any ill effects left over from the candida infection. For more information on the benefits of taking probiotics for candida, you can read this article which explores that value of kombucha in an anti-candida diet.
Cutting Through Congestion
If you suffer from congestion and excess phlegm, consuming apple cider vinegar can help to alleviate this. ACV helps the body to break up mucus and expel it, and can also assist in the relief of allergies. Reduced mucus and congestion can additionally help with headaches and sinus infections.
Hair & Skin Conditioner/Toner
Apple cider vinegar is also a widely used natural cosmetic component for the skin and hair. Used as a toner, ACV cleanses the skin while minimizing pores and balancing the skin’s ph – important for glowing healthy skin. Used as a hair rinse, ACV makes hair soft, shiny and silky. This is because hair shafts are made up of millions of tiny scales. When in an alkaline state (such as after swimming in salt water or washing with chlorinated water), these scales lift, making hair feel rough and course. When in a mildly acidic state, the tiny scales flatten, leaving hair feeling silky, and giving it a shiny look.
If you are suffering from underarm or foot odor, you can try wiping these areas regularly with apple cider vinegar on a cotton swab for a few days. If the cause of odor is bacteria, then the acidity of the ACV will kill the bacteria and solve the problem.
While more research is definitely needed to solidly verify the link between ACV consumption and lowering of cholesterol levels, the studies which have been conducted showed that the acetic acid in ACV is capable of noticeably reducing cholesterol.
Disinfecting a Sore Throat
Sore throats are the effect of the throat becoming inflamed due to a virus which has taken hold. Gargling with apple cider vinegar can kill the pathogenic bacteria which are inflaming the throat.
The Pro’s of a Probiotic
All of the above apple cider vinegar health benefits are valuable in and of themselves. But perhaps the most powerful and all round positive element of apple cider vinegar is its probiotic effect. Probiotics balance the internal microbial environment of the body. These microbes enable many of the body’s vital processes such as nutrient absorption and effective elimination of waste and toxins, which in turn ensure that the body is functioning at its best – clean and free of waste and toxins, and fully absorbing all available nutrients.
There are many substances which our bodies are exposed to which can inhibit our internal microbiology. Some of these we take voluntarily and others we ingest inadvertently. Antibiotics are a powerful treatment for a variety of infections, but just one course can throw out ones digestive system microbe setup. The good thing is that this is widely known, and if you have to take a course of antibiotics you can make sure that you stock up on some probiotics to go along with it.
There are also the other everyday substances which we don’t always realize can harm the tiny organism inside us which do so much. Chlorine in tap water is one of the most widespread microbe killers, and most of us ingest this on a daily basis.
Modern diets can also cause imbalances in digestive microbe populations, eg. too much sugar and refined starch stimulates candida to grow out of its correct proportion. Preservative, bleaches and other food additives can also have a negative impact.
As it is almost impossible to live a perfect life with a perfect diet – and probably very expensive too! – having a probiotic backstop like apple cider vinegar is a real plus. If you are consuming apple cider vinegar, whether it is a teaspoon with water before meals, or merely cooking a lot with it, you can ensure that whatever damage your internal microbe populations might be exposed to is being re-balanced and supplemented on a daily basis.
Cost Effective Superfood
Super foods are all the rage these days, and more and more are popping up hailing from all over the globe. While being undeniably potent, they also come with their (substantial) price tags. Apple cider vinegar however, while knocking on the door of the VIP’s of nutrition, the superfoods, is a common item that is widely available, and can be found in its unpasteurized form for reasonable prices.
Over-the-counter probiotics are also usually quite pricey, and taking any of these on a continual basis can hit one in the pocket. They also do not contain all of the additional health benefits that natural vinegar does.
What Apple Cider Vinegar Should You Buy?
There are many different brands.
Whatever brand you do buy make sure of two things:
- It’s Organic
- It’s Raw & Unpasteurized
So MAKE SURE that the ACV you do buy is both of those! We’ve done an article comparing the best apple cider vinegar brands for more information.
All the benefits you’ll see come from raw vinegar, not pasteurized vinegar which kills the bacteria culture (the probiotics that make ACV so beneficial)
Personally, we recommend Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. THIS is the vinegar we use ourselves and recommend. It’s the best, simple as that.
Because you’ll want to use Bragg’s every day, we recommend you pick up a big 128 ounce container to save money over the smaller sizes you usually find in a supermarket.
How to Take Apple Cider Vinegar
The most common way to take apple cider vinegar as a health supplement is to add plus/minus two teaspoons to a glass of water to drink before meals. This has the benefit of creating a feel of fullness, and encouraging weight loss. If you have appetite problems you might want to consider rather drinking it after your meals.
Some people add it to their water bottles and sip it throughout the day.
My brother, for example, has IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). He regularly takes about 1-2 teaspoons a day. If he is going to eat something greasy or something that may give him a stomach ache, he takes 1 tablespoon BEFORE eating those trouble foods. The ACV helps calm his stomach. It’s a great preventative measure that you may want to try yourself if you suffer from stomach problems due to certain foods.
If you are a regular Kombucha drinker, you can also benefit from Apple Cider Vinegar. Why both ACV and Kombucha are both fermented drinks, the bacteria strains and fermentation products are different. Drinking both is beneficial.
If you do not enjoy drinking it, then you can also add it to your meals every day. This is not quite so reliable however, because you might not require any for certain meals, and end up not getting your daily dose in.
But however you choose to take it, know that you are giving yourself a wellness gift in the form of the dirt cheap super food – ACV!