What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is apple juice that has been fermented twice. You can buy pasteurized as well as raw apple cider vinegar in stores. People most often use raw apple cider vinegar for health purposes because it may contain more natural bacteria and yeasts. These substances, known as “the mother,” are the cloudy sediment you see in the bottle. People credit the mother for ACV’s health benefits, as they think it contains small amounts of probiotics which are healthy bacteria that are good for gut health. However, research hasn’t shown that the mother offers any particular health benefit. The acetic acid in ACV is also thought to be at least partly responsible for any health benefits it has. Although, there are other types of vinegar that contain acetic acid as well.
Apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for many ailments. Limited and inconclusive research has shown that apple cider vinegar may be beneficial for promoting gut health in a few ways: it may help reduce inflammation due to its antioxidant activity, it may improve digestion, and it could even play a role in balancing the gut microbiome.
Proposed Benefits of ACV
Firstly, apple cider vinegar has been shown in some instances to reduce inflammation in the gut. The body’s natural reaction to infection, injury, or irritation causes inflammation, and improper management can lead to various health problems. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which has some anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that could help to reduce inflammation [1,2]. However, little research has been done on the anti-inflammatory properties of ACV in the gut. Of the studies conducted, none have been able to prove that ACV is effective against gut inflammation specifically.
Second, apple cider vinegar can help to improve digestion. Poor digestion can lead to a variety of health problems, including bloating, gas, and indigestion. The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar may help to break down food and make it easier for the body to absorb nutrients. One of the most popular claims is that ACV reduces bloating by aiding in digestion. Furthermore, ACV is acidic and can help to begin to break down proteins like meat which is why we can use it in a marinade as a meat tenderizer. However, the amount of ACV you would consume versus the amount of stomach acid you already have makes the ACV insignificant. But, some people do feel like ACV helps bloating.
Finally, apple cider vinegar can help to balance the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is the collection of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that live in the gut. Imbalances in the gut microbiome can cause digestive issues, immune system problems, and even mood disorders. Apple cider vinegar that contains the mother could help to restore balance to the gut microbiome by providing beneficial bacteria that can help to maintain a healthy balance . Fermented foods have been shown to introduce bacteria to the gut that may provide valuable metabolic byproducts, which may improve gut health .
Risks of Improper Use of Apple Cider Vinegar
There are some risks associated with ingestion of ACV or any other type of vinegar. One is erosion of your teeth. Studies have found that regular consumption of apple cider vinegar increased the risk of dental erosion. This means that frequent ACV ingestion may increase the risk of damage to your teeth enamel and cause dental cavities . A second potential danger of regular ACV consumption is acid burns that damage your esophagus and vocal cords . Other possible side effects of apple cider vinegar include: Lower potassium levels, interactions with medicines, as well as, nausea and vomiting.
In conclusion, people make a number of claims about the benefits of apple cider vinegar for gut health. You can reduce inflammation, improve digestion, and balance the gut microbiome with apple cider vinegar. However, these claims lack strong scientific evidence, so use it with caution and don’t use too much or for too long. You can easily add apple cider vinegar to your diet by using it in salad dressings, marinades, or drinking it as a shot with water. If you’re looking to improve your gut health, incorporating apple cider vinegar into your diet might be a good place to start.
-  Ousaaid, Driss et al. (2021) An Investigation of Moroccan Vinegars: Their Physicochemical Properties and Antioxidant and Antibacterial Activities. Journal of Food Quality 2021: 1-8.
-  Nazıroğlu, M., Güler, M., Özgül, C., Saydam, G., Küçükayaz, M., & Sözbir, E. (2014). Apple cider vinegar modulates serum lipid profile, erythrocyte, kidney, and liver membrane oxidative stress in ovariectomized mice fed high cholesterol. The Journal of membrane biology, 247(8): 667-673.
-  Xia, T., Zhang, B., Li, S., Fang, B., Duan, W., Zhang, J., Song, J., & Wang, M. (2020). Vinegar extract ameliorates alcohol-induced liver damage associated with the modulation of gut microbiota in mice. Food & function.
-  Parvez, S., Malik, K. A., Ah Kang, S., & Kim, H. Y. (2006). Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health. Journal of applied microbiology, 100(6), 1171-1185.
-  Jarvinen, V. K., Rytomaa, I. I., & Heinonen, O. P. (1991). Risk factors in dental erosion. Journal of dental research, 70(6), 942-947.
-  Hill, L. L., Woodruff, L. H., Foote, J. C., & Barreto-Alcoba, M. (2005). Esophageal injury by apple cider vinegar tablets and subsequent evaluation of products. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 105(7), 1141-1144.