Benefits and Myths of Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar

Jessica Lewis
November 23, 2016

For many centuries, vinegar has been used for a great variety of cooking and household purposes, but did you know that it’s also an ancient folk remedy which helps in case of all types of health issues?

The most famous vinegar is apple cider vinegar which has various benefits for our health, most of them being supported by scientific facts.

Cider vinegar has been used as a healing elixir since 400 B.C; even the father of modern medicine Hippocrates used it, and it’s still useful in today’s world.

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is also known as cider vinegar or ACV and it is a type of vinegar made from apple must or cider with a pale color or medium amber. Organic or unpasteurized apple cider vinegar has in its composition mother of vinegar with a cobweb-like appearance, and this can make the vinegar seem congealed.

Apple cider vinegar is mostly used in marinades, salad dressings, vinaigrettes, chutneys, food preservatives and much more. It’s made by crushing the apples and then squeezing out their liquid; then yeast and bacteria are added to the liquid’s composition for the alcoholic fermentation processes to start. The sugars will be turned into alcohol, and throughout a second fermentation process, the alcohol will be turned into vinegar by acetobacter – acetic acid-forming bacteria. The vinegar’s sour taste is given by the acetic acid and malic acid.

Vinegar Throughout History

For thousands of years, various peoples from all over the world have used vinegar in lots of ways. Around 5000 B.C. the Babylonians were using date palm fruit to make vinegar and wine, and they used vinegar as a pickling or as a preservative agent and even as food.

Some vinegar residues were also found in Ancient Egyptian vessels from 3000 B.C. In China, vinegar dates back to 1200 B.C.  In the year 1000 B.C. in Ancient Rome, there were different types of vinegar which were made out of wine, figs, dates and some other fruits and there were placed in bowls for the dunking of bread. In China, the making of rice vinegar dates back 3000 years ago.

In Ancient Greece, around 400 B.C. Hippocrates prescribed apple cider vinegar mixed with honey for a variety of health conditions including colds and coughs. In Italy, in 218 B.C. the Carthaginian general Hannibal used vinegar for pouring it over hot boulders to crumble them when he crossed the Alps with elephants to invade Italy.

The Japanese samurai used to believe that drinking rice vinegar would boost their power and strength, therefore, they drank it regularly.

Vinegar is mentioned as being used for medicinal purposes in early Middle Eastern writings helping in case of digestive problems and other health issues. Also Cleopatra the queen of Egypt around 40 B.C. used to consume vinegar.

Throughout history the antiseptic properties of vinegar have been used to disinfect the wounds and to speed up the healing of soldiers; therefore it has also been used during the American Civil War and WW I.

In Europe, the use of vinegar flourished around the Renaissance period, and vinegar was made with spices, assorted herbs, flowers and fruits. It was found in many folk recipes, and by the 18th century, there were hundreds of infused types of vinegar available.

In the present time, vinegar is used in a vast range of ways.

Organic vs. Non-Organic Apple Cider Vinegar

Unpasteurized, raw or organic apple cider vinegar is filled with living nutrients and bacteria which have a great deal of benefits for our health. This organic kind of vinegar is unfiltered, unpasteurized and unheated. It contains strand-like sediments at the bottom of the bottle, and it must be shaken before it’s used. The non-organic vinegar is clear, on the other hand. Obviously, the organic vinegar has more benefits for our health.

How to Drink Apple Cider Vinegar?

It’s not recommended to drink apple cider vinegar by itself because it has an approximate acid concentration of 5% which even if it doesn’t seem like much, it’s pretty high and acidly is not very healthy in such concentrations. Also, its taste is very intense, so it’s better if vinegar is mixed with other drinks.

Apple cider vinegar can be mixed with something more appetizing, and it won’t lose its beneficial properties. On the other hand, it’s good to know that caffeine can slow down the absorption process, so it’s not recommended to mix it with vinegar. It’s better to mix it with decaf or herbal teas.

Juice is also acidic therefore if you mix it with apple cider vinegar, the effect will be an increase of the acidity levels, and this is not very good for teeth nor our intestines.

For best results, specialists recommend mixing apple cider vinegar with plain water and honey at a ratio of two teaspoons of vinegar to 8 ounces of water. Milk is not a good choice because vinegar will cause it to curdle.

When Should You Drink Apple Cider Vinegar and How Often?

The mixture should be consumed in any time of the day, but it’s more recommended before meals because it can improve digestion. It is ok to drink it twice a day, but it’s not a problem if you choose to consume it more.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Other Medications

Because apple cider vinegar is made of apples, it’s quite safe to drink it while being on medication. However, there are some studies and research which report that, when combined with some medications, apple cider vinegar can lower potassium levels and interfere with the absorption and assimilation of some medical treatments as well.

So, if you use some strong prescribed medicine, you are advised to consult your doctor regarding the addition of apple cider vinegar to your diet.

Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should also speak to their physicians about it and its effects on their bodies. There’s no need to worry; there is no research indicating that apple cider vinegar will induce any serious threats. On the other hand, there’s no research guaranteeing the safety for pregnant or breastfeeding women either.

It’s good to remember that specialists recommend that expectant mothers should not consume unpasteurized foods to reduce the risk of ingesting some potentially harmful bacteria that could harm the child. Unfortunately, this means, in other words, that pregnant women might not be able to drink the organic apple cider vinegar – the one which has the most health benefits.  [1]

Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits for Health

Apple cider vinegar is a natural product which results from the fermentation of apple juice to hard apple cider. This is followed by another fermentation process which results in apple cider vinegar. The product absorbs and retains all the nutritional properties of apples from which it has been made. It is also fortified with the additional enzymes and acids which are produced during the two processes of fermentation.

All these ingredients give apple cider vinegar all its great health benefits which we’ll present below:

  1. Reducing Bloating and Preventing Acid Reflux

Apple cider vinegar increases the acidity levels in the stomach allowing it to digest the food easier and helping to propel it into the small intestine, according to scientists. Slow digestion can cause acid reflux, that nasty burning sensation which develops when the food in our stomach backs up all the way to our esophagus, triggering feelings of fullness. Consuming apple cider vinegar can stop all these processes.

  1. Increasing the Benefits of the Nutrients from our Foods

When our stomach is not producing enough acid, the result is an impairment of the absorption of nutrients and B6 vitamin, calcium, folate, and iron. We can help our bodies by ingesting a small quantity of acid in the form of apple cider vinegar, and we will be able to use all of the nutrients provided by the foods we consume.

  1. It Cancels Some of the Carbs We’ve Eaten, in Other Words, it Helps With Weight Loss

The acetic acid which is found in vinegar interferes with the enzymes from our stomach which are responsible for the digestion processes of starch; therefore we won’t absorb the calories from the carbs we’ve consumed.

This means that apple cider vinegar can help us if we want to lose some weight and all the research and existing studies support this fact.

On the other hand, specialists warn us that, in some cases, apple cider vinegar won’t help us to lose weight no matter how much we consume, especially if we double down on carbs, thinking that we became immune to calories. Not even specialists know exactly how many calories can be blocked by vinegar simply because there hasn’t yet been any research on the subject. It’s important to know that undigested starch can be fermented in our colon and our bodies could eventually absorb the starch calories. So, it’s not enough to drink vinegar for weight loss.

  1. It Softens Our Energy Crash After Consuming A Great Amount of Carbs and Sugar

Drinking apple cider vinegar before meals will help our body by slowing down the rush of sugar to our blood streams. As a result, our blood sugar spike won’t be so powerful, and we won’t crush so hard.

  1. It Offers a Stronger Sensation of Satiety

Studies have shown that people who consumed apple cider vinegar before having their breakfast (which consisted of white bread and other foods) felt more satisfied after 1 hour and a half since breakfast, compared to the people who didn’t drink apple cider vinegar. It’s also important that after 2 hours of finishing breakfast both groups of people were equally hungry. So, it’s obvious that bread is not the greatest breakfast food no matter if vinegar is associated or not.

  1. It Helps With Muscle Efficiency

Endurance athletes usually consume drinks mixed with apple cider vinegar when they eat carbs the night before their competition. Acetic acid helps the muscles turn carbs into pure energy, and this will fuel intense exercises.

  1. It Lowers High Blood Pressure

Studies have proven that drinking apple cider vinegar can reduce blood pressure by a couple of points. Scientists and researchers don’t quite understand exactly how this works, but they’re pretty sure it is indeed helpful in case of high blood pressure.

  1. It Helps With Bad Breath Issues

The antibacterial properties of apple cider vinegar will help to kill the microorganisms responsible for bad breath.

  1. It Balances the Body’s pH and Promotes Better Bone Health

Vinegar is, of course, acidic but it also has a neutralizing effect once it is in our bodies and it makes the pH more basic, meaning more alkaline and this is great for our overall health.

Studies have already shown that people who have more alkaline diets (less meat and of course more veggies) also have a better bone mineral density. So, it seems that drinking apple cider vinegar can strengthen our bones.

  1. It Can Alleviate Heartburn

According to the latest research, apple cider vinegar’s effectiveness regarding heartburns depends on the source of this health condition. If you suffer from erosive heartburn which is caused by some lesions in the esophagus or by a stomach ulcer, a small dose of apple cider vinegar can aggravate your problem! But if the heartburn stems only from something you’ve eaten, adding some acetic acid to the stomach will have a neutralizing effect on the acid from the stomach, and it will be able to fix the problem, providing at least a small dose of comfort.

This might also be the reason for which some folklore stories suggest that apple cider vinegar can soothe an upset stomach triggered by some bacterial infections.

  1. It Cures Hiccups

A teaspoonful of apple cider vinegar can stop a hiccup because of its sour taste. There are also lollipops with a composition that includes apple cider vinegar for stopping hiccups. Apple cider vinegar can cancel out the message to the hiccup by overstimulating the nerves from our throat which are responsible for these spasms we call hiccups.

  1. It Soothes a Sore Throat

We are advised that as soon as we feel the beginning of a sore throat to quickly drink some apple cider vinegar because it will help by eliminating the infection. It seems that most germs cannot survive in the acidic environment created by apple cider vinegar.

  1. It Lowers Cholesterol

Even if more research on this subject is needed, there is one study from 2006 which found out that there is a link between apple cider vinegar and it’s capability to lower cholesterol in humans. The study showed that the acetic acid from the vinegar’s composition lowered bad cholesterol. There’s also some Japanese research which shows the same thing.

  1. It Clears a Stuffy Nose

If you’re stuffed up from a nasty cold, grab the apple cider vinegar because its composition includes potassium which thins the mucus. Also, the acetic acid has the capability to prevent germ growth which contributes to nasal congestion. All you have to do is mix a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it to help the drainage from your sinuses.

  1. It Prevents the Nighttime Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are proof that you might be low on potassium and since apple cider vinegar is high in it as we already said above, mixing two tablespoons apple cider vinegar and some honey in a glass of warm water and drinking it will relieve leg cramps you experience during the night.

  1. It Prevents Diabetes

By keeping the blood sugar levels in our blood balanced, according to new studies, apple cider vinegar can also prevent diabetes. One study involving people who had type 2 diabetes and were not taking insulin proved that if they consumed two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar just before going to bed, they had lower blood sugar levels in the morning. Another study demonstrated that insulin resistant patients who consumed a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar before eating a high carb meal had lower glucose levels in their blood. The specialists think that the anti-glycemic properties of the acid are the key element to all of this.

  1. It Helps in Case of Menopause Symptoms such as Hot Flashes and Night Sweats

Studies show that approximately 80% of North American women experience menopausal night sweats and hot flashes. The symptoms include a sudden sensation of intense heat in the chest area, face and neck, a rise in skin temperature (also the skin can become reddish), and sweating combined with chills. It seems that drinking a glass of water mixed with apple cider vinegar will help in regulating the toxins that the body tries to eliminate through sweat. Apple cider vinegar can be used to reduce hot flashes and night sweats. It is an effective alternative treatment for some menopausal symptoms without having to deal with the serious side effect of the drugs and medication used throughout menopause.

  1. It is an Effective Remedy for Gout

Gout describes a form of arthritis which can cause some intense joint pain and it often affects the large joint of the big toe. This health issue can also occur in wrists, hands, knees, ankles and feet. All of the affected joints become inflamed, tender and reddish and the symptoms occur suddenly during the night, most of the times. Apple cider vinegar either ingested or applied topically can be used as a natural alternative remedy for relieving these symptoms. There hasn’t yet been scientific research to evaluate the effects of apple cider vinegar on gout, but a lot of patients have already confessed that it truly is effective, especially when combined with traditional forms of treatment for this health condition.

  1. It Kills Candida, and it Boosts Probiotics

There are millions and millions of people all around the world who struggle with Candida and yeast, and the side effects include lack of energy, bad breath, digestive problems and more. Apple cider vinegar’s composition contains probiotics and a type of acid which promote the development and growth of probiotics. These will keep away Candida. It’s recommended to remove sugars from your diet and to consume one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar three times a day to cleanse your body of Candida.

  1. It Fights Seasonal Allergies, and it Boosts the Immune System

Studies have proven that apple cider vinegar is also an excellent treatment for allergies because it can help break up mucous from our bodies and it also supports the lymphatic drainage. It boosts the immunity, and it can clear the sinuses.

  1. It May Have Beneficial Effects Against Cancer

The terrible cancer is a disease which is characterized by an uncontrollable growth of malignant cells. If we check online, we’ll notice that there is quite a fuss regarding the beneficial effects of apple cider vinegar on cancer.

There are some studies which show that apple cider vinegar can kill malignant cells and they can also shrink tumors. However, it’s also important to acknowledge the fact that all this research was made on isolated cells, on rats, in test tubes and it doesn’t prove enough. Therefore it is only correct that we say that apple cider vinegar might help in the battle against cancer but it’s premature to make any recommendations based on the evidence we have until now. We’ll just have to wait and see.

Apple Cider Vinegar Myths

Bogus health claims about apple cider vinegar which you don’t have any reason to trust:

  1. It Cures Acne

Despite all the info you might have found online about the vinegar’s ability to clear acne and cure breakouts, it seems that the acid from the vinegar can, in fact, irritate your skin, only aggravating the lesions, so do not use it in a case of acne.

  1. It Is Beneficial for Wounds

Even if apple cider vinegar kills bacteria, the acid in its composition will irritate your wound extremely bad, so you definitely do not want to apply it on broken skin.

  1. It Will Whiten Your Teeth

You might want to be pretty careful before trying to whiten your teeth with apple cider vinegar because the acid in its composition will erode enamel off your teeth or even stain it like red wine or Coke do.

  1. It Can Soothe Sunburn

As we said before, apple cider vinegar is acid therefore it will irritate your burnt skin even more.[2]