Apple cider vinegar is an acidic liquid made by fermenting apples. The vinegar is frequently used as a culinary ingredient. Apple cider vinegar is a popular ingredient in salad dressings, marinades, and sauces.
The fermentation process of apple cider vinegar begins with apple juice. The apple juice is fermented using microorganisms that break down sugars in the juice and converts them into acids. The fermentation of apple juice results in the creation of acetic acid.
Another byproduct of the fermentation process is the “mother”. The mother is a solid substance comprised of good bacteria and yeast. This compound offers probiotic properties that encourage the formation of good gut bacteria. The probiotic benefits can restore healthy digestion after an illness or maintain a proper functioning digestive system.
Not all apple cider vinegar contains the mother. Some brands remove the mother during the production process. If you’re looking to take apple cider vinegar for health benefits, make sure to a raw apple cider vinegar that contains the mother. You can find these options from brands like Bragg’s and at health food stores such as Whole Foods. Read on to find out more about the probiotic effects of apple cider vinegar as well as a few side effects.
Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
1. Digestive System Aid
One of the main purported benefits of apple cider vinegar is for gut health. Aficionados argue that apple cider vinegar encourages the growth of good bacteria while the acidity creates an inhospitable environment for bad bacteria. By promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, apple cider vinegar may help to streamline digestion and create the conditions for a healthy gut.
Research published in the Journal of Prosthodontics investigated the impacts of apple cider vinegar on fungi that can cause problems in the digestive tract. The researchers focused on a particular strain of Candida species that is known to cause digestive health issues including upset stomach and diarrhea. Researchers found that a four percent dilution of apple cider vinegar exhibited antifungal and fungicidal properties (1).
2. Weight Loss Aid
Apple cider vinegar may be a useful weight loss aid when combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise. A Japanese study published in 2014 examined the effects of apple cider vinegar on weight in obese individuals. The study consisted of 155 participants who were divided into three experimental groups. Researchers found that people who drank apple cider vinegar every day for 12 weeks demonstrated a significant reduction in weight and body fat (2).
A second small study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the impacts of apple cider vinegar on blood sugar levels. The study consisted of 12 individuals and researchers found that apple cider vinegar lowered blood sugar levels after a meal (3). The ability of apple cider vinegar to regulate blood glucose levels may also be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers also found that those who consumed apple cider vinegar in combination with a meal reported higher feelings of fullness. This may help to decrease overeating and total calorie intake.
Drinking a diluted form of apple cider vinegar before a meal may help you lose weight by reducing the number of calories you consume. The idea is that you’ll feel full faster when you start a meal with a full glass of water and apple cider vinegar instead of just simply digging into the food.
3. May Benefit Bone Health
Drinking apple cider vinegar may help to improve bone health thanks to nutrient absorption properties. A study published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry found that apple cider vinegar helps to increase the uptake of calcium in the intestines. The study was an animal study where rats were given apple cider vinegar in conjunction with a low-calcium diet. More research is needed to confirm these results in humans (4).
4. Antioxidant Benefits
Apple cider vinegar contains antioxidants that may benefit human health. The vinegar contains polyphenols — like those found in green tea — as well as B vitamins. These antioxidants work to protect against free radicals — highly reactive cells that cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the body’s form of rust. It’s a process in which cell membranes and function are worn down. Oxidative stress has been linked to a range of diseases including heart disease and premature aging (5).
These vitamins and polyphenols may also help to boost the immune system. Since apple cider vinegar boasts antibacterial properties, it may help to fend off infections and improve immunity.
Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is safe when consumed in mild to moderate quantities. Excessive use may cause digestive problems and other side effects.
Degradation of Tooth Enamel
The high acidic content of apple cider vinegar may be detrimental to tooth health. Research shows the acid in fruit juices and vinegar may break down tooth enamel over time. The breakdown of enamel may increase the risk of cavities and other dental health issues. To minimize these side effects, dilute apple cider vinegar when consuming and brush your teeth afterward to remove excess acids.
Drinking too much apple cider vinegar can cause an upset stomach, indigestion, and worsen acid reflux. Nausea and dizziness may also result from consuming too much of the fermented juice.
The acidity of apple cider vinegar may also cause a burning sensation or burns if applied topically. Never apply apple cider vinegar directly to the skin without diluting it first. Drinking pure apple cider vinegar may also cause an increase in stomach acid and a burning sensation.
Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits Recap: Probiotic & Health
Apple cider vinegar is one of the most popular fermented foods in the holistic health world. Millions of Americans drink the fermented beverage daily. Organic apple cider vinegar is a popular probiotic supplement and regular consumption may help to restore and improve digestive health.