Gut health is a hot topic these days and for good reason. Many people struggle with maintaining a healthy gut and are looking for ways to improve digestive function to help them feel their best.
You may have heard that apple cider vinegar is a beneficial ingredient for improving gut health. This article will explain what the research says – and doesn’t say – about apple cider vinegar’s ability to restore gut health.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is a vinegar made by exposing apples to yeast and bacteria which leads to fermentation and the formation of acetic acid.
Acetic acid is the main component in vinegar and is what makes vinegar strong and sour. It’s also thought to be responsible for apple cider vinegar’s health benefits (1).
People have used apple cider vinegar for many years for its claims as an effective home remedy for many ailments.
There are several claims that apple cider vinegar can benefit health, but many of these claims aren’t fully supported by research.
Specifically, apple cider vinegar has been touted for its gut health benefits and some even think of ACV as a probiotic. This article will explain what the research says about how apple cider vinegar may benefit the gut.
How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Impact the Gut?
There is some evidence to suggest that apple cider vinegar can benefit gut health, however, the research is limited and there’s a lot we still don’t know.
This section will outline what we know about how apple cider vinegar can impact the gut.
May Help Ward off Bacteria
Vinegar in general has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, and apple cider vinegar is no different.
Studies show that acetic acid in vinegar can help kill pathogens such as bacteria (2). Particularly when used as a natural home cleaning agent, vinegar can be a natural and non-toxic way to clean your countertops, for example.
However, research is limited to suggest that apple cider vinegar can help kill bacteria once it’s already in our system. Therefore, it’s tough to make any claims that consuming vinegar can inhibit negative bacteria in our digestive tract and help protect us from getting sick.
May Reduce Symptoms of Acid Reflux
Acid reflux is a common gastrointestinal symptom experienced by many.
Many people believe reflux to be a symptom of excess stomach acid, however, contrary to that common thought, many people actually experience reflux as a result of low stomach acid.
Therefore, introducing acidic remedies such as apple cider vinegar can help increase stomach acid and potentially improve digestion, leading to less acid reflux.
For people whose root cause of reflux is low stomach acid, consuming a diluted tablespoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal can be quite helpful to reduce reflux. However, there have been only a handful of small studies to support this, and more research needs to be done (3).
It’s also important to understand that there can be several reasons people experience reflux, and this potential remedy definitely may not work for everyone.
May Help Reduce Bloating
Bloating is perhaps the most common digestive symptom. While some bloating is normal and a part of regular digestive functioning, sometimes excessive bloating can be a sign that something else is going on.
There are many potential triggers for bloating such as food sensitivities, bacterial imbalances, constipation, or eating disorders, for example. So, of course, there is definitely no one-size-fits-all approach to bloating.
However, there is some – mainly anecdotal – evidence to suggest that apple cider vinegar can soothe digestion and reduce bloating. It’s thought that the acetic acid in the vinegar can help digest protein-rich foods in the stomach, however, there is really no evidence to suggest this is the case.
If you’re experiencing bloating and digestive discomfort it’s best to seek professional help before attempting to self-treat with vinegar.
Other Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
While the research is quite limited to suggest the use of apple cider vinegar for gut health, there are other areas of research that are a bit more promising.
There is research to suggest that apple cider vinegar might help delay gastric emptying, which in turn may blunt the body’s glycemic response to foods.
A review of 9 studies found that people who consume apple cider vinegar for 2 months experience reduced fasting glucose levels. These studies also found that consuming apple cider vinegar significantly reduced triglycerides in those with type 2 diabetes (4).
While apple cider vinegar may help improve blood sugar and metabolic health markers, the research is still relatively new and more studies are needed to further support these claims.
Is it Safe to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar Every Day?
It’s pretty safe to say that consuming apple cider vinegar is not harmful, especially if you are consuming it in normal amounts. It’s definitely not a miracle cure, but there’s some anecdotal evidence that it can be helpful.
Potential Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects
Because vinegar is quite acidic, be cautious not to go overboard as too much can potentially irritate your stomach, throat, and damage your teeth.
Drinking too much apple cider vinegar likely won’t cause an ulcer, however, if you already have an ulcer, apple cider vinegar can make it worse.
As a general rule of thumb, if you’re experiencing some digestive upset, it’s always best to see a medical professional before attempting to self-heal with apple cider vinegar.
How Much Apple Cider Vinegar You Should Take Each Day
Because apple cider vinegar is not necessary for our health, there are no set nutritional guidelines on how much apple cider vinegar to consume daily.
That doesn’t mean you should go overboard with your intake, as too much can definitely be damaging to your health.
It’s best to start with small doses and avoid taking large amounts at one time.
First, try mixing up to a couple of teaspoons in a large glass of water and see how you feel. You may choose to increase your intake and consume up to a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar daily.
However, it’s probably not a good idea to consume too much more than that to avoid any harmful side effects.
How to Include Apple Cider Vinegar in Your Diet
There are many ways to include apple cider vinegar into your diet. Here are some of the easiest and tastiest ways to incorporate it:
Make a tea: Simply add 1-2 teaspoons into hot water. Feel free to add honey, ginger, and cinnamon for a tasty and nourishing combination.
Dilute in water: Perhaps the easiest way to include apple cider vinegar is to simply dilute 1-2 teaspoons in a large glass of water and drink before or after meals.
Add in a salad dressing: Apple cider vinegar is also great for cooking. Mix with olive oil, mustard, salt, and pepper for a simple and tasty vinaigrette.
Add to juice: Add a splash of apple cider vinegar to your favorite homemade or store-bought juice for a refreshing and cleansing beverage.