Apple cider vinegar emerged as a weight-loss elixir a couple of years back. Soon many other claims started popping up regarding ACV. Some of them are even supported by science now. Indeed, apple cider vinegar forms a great health supplement and adding it to your water would yield you great benefits.
But all of the claims about ACV that are floating on the internet-sphere are not true. Also, you should be a little careful and know certain facts before you start using it on a daily basis.
Apple cider vinegar goes through the same process that any other vinegar goes through, i.e, fermentation in the presence of yeast forming alcohol, then conversion of alcohol to vinegar by bacteria. The only difference is that ACV is prepared from apples. The chief ingredient of all vinegar is acetic acid, and the health benefits of ACV and other vinegar are greatly attributed to acetic acid.
Because it's acidic in nature, caution should be exercised while using ACV on a regular basis.
Science-Backed Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
1. It is Great for Type 2 Diabetics
If you have type 2 diabetes or if you are a pre-diabetic, consider adding ACV in your daily routine. Several studies have proven the anti-glycemic effect of ACV
In type 2 diabetes our body becomes insensitive to insulin, as a result, our body fails to utilize the glucose available in the blood. This ultimately leads to persistent high blood glucose levels. Apple cider vinegar tackles this defect by increasing the sensitivity of our body towards insulin, proving beneficial to type 2 diabetics
It also reduces the morning fasting glucose and post=prandial glucose levels when consumed before bed. It does it by slowing down the gastric emptying and the breakdown of starch (i.e. carbohydrates), thus preventing a sudden rise of blood sugar level.
2. Promotes Weight Loss and Reduces Belly Fat
ACV is indeed one of the favorite supplements of the weight loss industry, and for a good reason
A study in Japan concluded that vinegar helps reduce the stubborn belly fat and overall BMI by reducing triglyceride levels. It literally slows down the formation of lipids in the liver.
Apart from that, ACV also promotes weight loss by slowing down gastric emptying. A slow gastric emptying keeps you full for a longer time and thus increases satiety.
3. It’s Great for Your Heart
ACV also reduces the cholesterol level, prevents atherosclerosis and therefore provides protection to your heart. So if you suffer from high cholesterol and obesity, adding ACV beverages might actually help.
There is also some evidence that it might help with high blood pressure. But these studies were not done in humans and so it's not recommended to rely on this experiment for your high blood pressure. It’s not worth the risk.
4. It's an Antioxidant
It’s not the best source of antioxidant out there but ACV is a good source of polyphenols, which are well-known antioxidants.
Experiments have shown that ACV reduces oxidative stress. Meaning, it neutralizes the free-radicals and reduces inflammation in the body.
5. It Acts Against Cancer Cells
This action is most likely attributed to acetic acid.
6. Unfiltered ACV is a Good Source of Probiotics
The unfiltered version of ACV is rich in healthy bacteria and therefore they act as a good source of probiotics. This can really help you out if you have any digestive issues as probiotics are an integral part of our gastrointestinal system and they help maintain gut health.
There is some anecdotal evidence that drinking ACV improves constipation, heartburn, and bloating. But there is no solid study to back it up.
There are many other claims regarding drinking ACV as well but none of them is backed by science either.
It's Not a Cure for Everything
Yes, it has many health benefits that are backed by science, but that doesn't make your medications, a good diet, exercise and an overall healthy lifestyle obsolete.
It will not cure your diabetes, it will not cure cancer, and it will not reduce your blood pressure. It will support your healthy lifestyle but it cannot replace appropriate diet and treatment whenever required.
Also, even though they are pretty safe to use, they do have some side-effects when consumed in a very high amount.
Side-Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar:
1. Let's Not Forget That It's Acidic in Nature
The chief component of apple cider vinegar is acetic acid. In a very high dose, this can really cause irritation in your body.
A very concentrated ACV drink can erode your teeth enamel making it sensitive and prone to cavities. It can also irritate your gastrointestinal lining if consumed in high concentration.
So, make sure that you don't drink it straight from the bottle. Mix it with water to dilute it and then proceed to consume.
2. Can Cause Some Nutritional and Hormonal Imbalances
A very large amount of ACV consumption causes hypokalemia (low potassium), osteoporosis, and increases the levels of renin in the body. Renin is a hormone that is responsible for increasing the blood pressure in the body. A high level of renin in the system will put you at risk of hypertension.
Therefore, always check the amount of ACV you are consuming.
3. Drug Interactions
Since ACV can reduce the potassium level, there is a risk of drug interaction with certain drugs that reduces potassium levels in our body. Medications like insulin, digoxin, and diuretics can cause hypokalemia, and so ACV should be avoided if you are on these drugs.
A low potassium level can lead to muscle weakness, cramps and even abnormal heart rhythms.
Should You Drink It After Meals or on an Empty Stomach?
There's a lot of hype that drinking ACV in an empty stomach is better when compared to drinking it after meals, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
However, drinking ACV in an empty stomach may not be for everyone. Many people experience nausea after drinking ACV in an empty stomach. If you can't handle ACV in an empty stomach then it would be wise to not drink it that way. Also, there is no scientific proof of whether or not drinking an empty stomach is superior in every case.
If you are diabetic, however, consuming it 15-20 minutes before the meals would be helpful rather than drinking in the early morning. Also, if you are trying to control fasting sugar levels then drinking before bedtime would be helpful.
How to Prepare Your Perfect Apple Cider Vinegar Drink
If you have ever consumed vinegar (any kind), you know that they are extremely tart. You cannot and you should not ever drink apple cider vinegar in pure, concentrated form, straight from the bottle. Doing this will cause the above-mentioned side-effects.
Now, using ACV for various health benefits is essentially a home remedy, and so there is no standard dosage as to how much you should be consuming it.
But usually, one tablespoon of ACV mixed in a glass of water (250 ml or 8 ounces) is sufficient and tolerable to drink. However, even one tablespoon of it can be tart for many. If this is the case, then make it half tablespoon at once, or you can dilute it more. Some people increase it to 2 tablespoons once they are a bit used to, but it's advised that you don’t go beyond 2 tablespoons of ACV at once.
If you are a diabetic, drink this ACV beverage before the consumption of a high carbohydrate diet. Doing this will help you control the blood glucose level.
Should You Get ACV With or Without "Mother"?
Apple cider vinegar is available in two forms: with mother and without mother.
The "mother" is basically the unfiltered part that is left behind once the source fruit/plant is all fermented and is completely converted to vinegar. In short, ACV with "mother" is the unfiltered form of ACV, and the one without "mother" is the filtered form.
There are many claims that the unfiltered form or the one with "mother" is the better version. Maybe this is true when we speak about ACV as probiotics as the unfiltered form is more likely to have healthy bacteria. But other than this, there are no scientific studies that prove that the unfiltered form is superior.
So, if you are thinking of consuming ACV as a natural source of probiotics then you can consider using ACV with mother. But otherwise, it's less likely that the presence or absence of "mother" matters.
Can You Replace Apple Cider Vinegar With White Vinegar?
Although there are no specific studies stating that apple cider vinegar can be switched with white vinegar, it's most likely that it can be. The major component of all vinegar is acetic acid, and most of its benefits are caused by acetic acid.
Similar results to ACV have also been seen with other vinegar.
- Vinegar also reduces post-prandial hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia.
- They also help in weight loss.
- Vinegar also lowers cholesterol levels by reducing the formation of lipids in the liver.
- They also contain polyphenols, making them an antioxidant as well.
So, it's most likely that all these effects are shared features of all vinegar, irrespective of what source it is coming from, because ultimately they are broken down to the same thing, i.e. vinegar.
So, should you be adding apple cider vinegar in your water? Yes, sure! It will provide you great benefits. Especially if you are a diabetic or if you are currently trying to lose weight, this could be a great tool for you.
However, don't forget that it contains acid. In a low amount, it will not cause any harm but at a higher concentration, it can cause some side-effects. So, be cautious.
Also, remember that it's just a supplement and that is how it should be treated. It should never be seen as a replacement for a good diet and a healthy lifestyle and your medications. It will boost the outcome when added to your routine, and alone it may not yield the amazing benefits that it can when used along with good lifestyle habits.