Apple Cider Vinegar: Benefits, Weight Loss, Health Uses – A Beginner’s Guide
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You may have heard the hype surrounding Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).
Self improvement covers a lot of different issues and subjects, and one of those is doing what you can to maintain and improve your health.
There is a multitude of stories online of people using ACV for just about everything from weight loss to skin care.
The reported health benefits of apple cider vinegar range from curing acne to helping stave off cancer.
Is there any truth to these reported benefits?
If you’re interested in whether this one little miracle liquid could affect your life for the better, stick around and follow this guide to learn more.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
In order to understand how ACV works in the body, it’s important to understand exactly what it is.
ACV is basically just apple juice with added yeast.
Adding yeast turns the fruit sugar into alcohol via fermentation.
The fermentation is what gives vinegar it’s sour taste and strong smell as well as its health-promoting probiotics and enzymes.
Apple cider vinegar is made in a similar two-step process to how alcohol is made.
First, crushed apples or apple cider are added to yeast.
At this step, the yeast ferments the sugars and turns them into alcohol.
In the second step, bacteria are added, which further ferment the alcohol and help it become acetic acid, which is the main active compound in vinegar.
What are the different kinds of apple cider vinegar?
For most uses of apple cider vinegar it is important to use the organic, unfiltered form. Organic, unfiltered ACV (such as Bragg’s apple cider vinegar) contains something called “mother”.
Mother is the name for the strands of proteins, enzymes and friendly bacteria that amass during its production.
The mother gives unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar such as Bragg’s its murky appearance, and is what many people believe results in most of the Bragg brand’s benefits.
Filtered apple cider, as opposed to unfiltered vinegar, is filtered to remove the mother and any sediment.
This leaves a clear, amber-colored vinegar.
Culinarily speaking, the vinegars are interchangeable.
However, vinegar containing the live mother appear to have more potential health benefits.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make apple cider vinegar, it’s fairly easy once you’ve obtained the mother from a prior batch of unfiltered apple cider vinegar.
How is ACV different from other vinegars?
Apple cider vinegar is slightly higher in mineral and vitamin content than other vinegar. Because it is made from apples, it also retains natural antioxidants, fruit polyphenols, and nutrients.
What Does Apple Cider Vinegar Do?
Apple Cider Vinegar has long been used as a home remedy to treat everything from sore throat to digestive upset to varicose veins.
Its cures have been around for hundreds of years.
Until recent years, there hasn’t been much science to support the claims that ACV works magic as a remedy.
However, recently some researchers have been taking a look at the possible benefits and the science behind the vinegar’s efficacy.
How does ACV work in the body to create so many diverse and varied health effects?
Why is it that health enthusiasts see so much potential in this little ingredient?
Apple cider vinegar has effects in the body mostly because it contains acetic acid, which is created during the fermentation process.
Acetic acid has been shown to reduce blood pressure and control fat accumulation.
Acetic acid is an ingredient in several prescription medications such as those used to treat ear infections, vaginal infections, head lice and warts.
Perhaps most importantly, acetic acid interferes with the enzymes that break down the chemical bonds in starches.
This means that your body will take longer to break down these foods into sugar, helping regulate blood sugar.
In addition to containing acetic acid, apple cider vinegar has antioxidant properties that protect lipids from oxidation.
This can help with cardiovascular disease prevention.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar Good For?
Apple cider vinegar has a wide range of uses besides culinary applications like salad dressings or health benefits such as weight loss. From household cleaners to home remedies, ACV can be whipped up into a variety of creative tonics. Some reported uses of apple cider vinegar include:
1. Killing bacteria
Vinegar can help kill pathogens, including bacteria. In the past, ACV has been used for several antibacterial purposes, from cleaning and disinfecting to treating lice and ear infections. ACV is used to this day as a food preservative as it inhibits bacteria such as E. Coli from growing in the food. For this reason, ACV is a great natural preservative. To make an at-home apple cider vinegar cleaner, simply mix equal parts ACV and water and spray on surfaces to disinfect.
2. Treating fungal infections
Fungal infections like athlete’s foot, toenail fungus, or yeast infections are tricky and unpleasant to treat.
Apple cider vinegar can be used to make a simple antifungal spray that can be used to clear up these fungal infections.
3. Enhancing circulation
Applying apple cider vinegar to varicose veins in circular motions can help enhance circulation and thus reduce symptoms such as unsightly appearance and discomfort.
4. Treating warts
The antifungal properties of apple cider vinegar apply to treating warts as well. Simply soak a cotton ball in ACV and apply it directly to wart with a bandage overnight. Repeating this a few times can cause the wart to fall off.
5. Healing poison ivy
Poison ivy is one of the trickiest topical skin irritations to treat. Apple cider vinegar contains potassium, which may help reduce the swelling associated with poison ivy. Spritz some diluted apple cider vinegar on the affected area to help soothe the swelling.
6. Get rid of fruit flies
If you have a pest problem in your kitchen, place an open cup of apple cider vinegar with a few drops of liquid dish soap in the kitchen. This will attract the fruit flies that are attracted to fermenting fruits and help rid your kitchen of infestation.
7. Ward off seasonal allergies
Apple cider vinegar contains powerful antibiotic and antihistamine properties. Traditional allergy medicines often cause drowsiness and other frustrating side effects.
Many people are using ACV as a substitute or supplement to other allergy drugs because of its antihistamine powers.
8. Natural deodorant
Many commercial deodorants are antiperspirants, which block your ability to sweat.
Sweating is a natural detoxification method, and it is important to let your body sweat.
Apple cider vinegar absorbs and neutralizes a lot of unpleasant odors. The vinegar smell dissipates as it dries.
9. Soothe sunburns
ACV is a great natural remedy for soothing dry, sunburnt skin.
Mix a cup of ACV with ¼ cup coconut oil and some lavender essential oil.
Add this mixture to a lukewarm bath and soak or apply directly to skin for sunburn relief.
Apple Cider Vinegar Health Benefits
There is no doubt that ACV has found a place in countless folk remedies and homemade concoctions.
However, the question still remains: is apple cider vinegar good for you?
The short answer is yes.
Besides the variety of natural remedies and home uses for apple cider vinegar, there is also a plethora of reported health benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar.
When taken cautiously and in a diluted form, there is at the very least no harm in consuming apple cider vinegar.
As time passes, several of these benefits are becoming verified by scientific studies.
So, what are the most commonly reported health benefits of apple cider vinegar?
1. Weight loss
Because vinegar lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, it makes sense that it could help you lose weight.
Vinegar can help increase the feeling of fullness and therefore help you eat fewer calories throughout the day.
This can lead to pounds lost on the scale. The most important factor in determining a person’s weight is caloric intake.
Vinegar along with higher carb meals can make people eat 200-275 fewer calories per day.
One study in obese individuals even showed that daily ACV consumption led to reduced belly fat and a lower waist circumference.
Especially when paired with other measures to lose weight, such as intermittent fasting or diet and exercise, ACV can be an immensely helpful weight loss aide.
2. Improved heart health
Cardiovascular disease is the singular most common cause of death in the world today.
Several of the risk factors for heart disease have been shown to be improved by apple cider vinegar consumption in rats.
ACV contains the antioxidant chlorogenic acid, which protects LDL cholesterol particles from becoming oxidized, which causes heart disease.
Vinegar has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.
3. Improved blood sugar and insulin levels in type 2 diabetes
One of the most successful applications of apple cider vinegar right now is in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Elevated blood sugar can be a problem in people who don’t have diabetes, so practically everyone can benefit from keeping blood sugar stable.
Apple cider vinegar helps insulin function in that it improves insulin sensitivity during a high carb meal up to 30% and lowers blood glucose and insulin responses.
Simply consuming 2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (in diluted form, of course) before bed can reduce fasting blood sugars as well, helping keep blood sugar levels steady overnight.
4. Improved Acid Reflux
Using apple cider vinegar for acid reflux may cause reduction in symptoms.
Acid reflux is characterized by acid backflow from the stomach into the esophagus, causing heartburn and nausea.
Acid reflux is usually the result of having low levels of stomach acid.
If you frequently experience heartburn or acid reflux related nausea, ACV can help reduce symptoms by introducing more acid into the digestive tract.
For best results, dilute 1-2 tbsp of ACV in 8oz water before eating.
5. Antioxidant properties
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar can help curb cell damage that can lead to other diseases such as cancer.
There are some current studies reporting that vinegar can kill cancer cells and shrink tumors.
There is a lot of hype online currently about ACV’s anti-cancer benefits.
However, it is still too early to make any concrete claims about the anti-cancer properties.
Apple Cider Vinegar is a powerful probiotic that adds a healthy dose of beneficial bacteria into your diet.
Because ACV is derived from fermented apple juice, it contains strong a ton of good bacteria for your gut.
Increasing your gut bacteria can result in increased immunity and improved ability to digest and absorb nutrients.
Along with other fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir and sauerkraut, ACV can aid in gut health.
ACV can also help settle an upset stomach and diarrhea by alleviating gas and cramping.
7. Detoxification properties
ACV can help balance your pH, encouraging lymphatic drainage and enhanced circulation.
There are several apple cider vinegar detox drink recipes that help you get a concentrated dose to increase detoxification.
8. Helps cold symptoms
Apple cider vinegar can help alkalize the body.
Creating an alkaline environment helps kill bacteria and viruses that might be causing your common cold.
If you start drinking it at the first sign of illness, ACV has the best chance of working.
At the very least, the strong taste and acidity can help soothe a sore throat and clear the sinuses, thus relieving some symptoms.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Weight Loss
Perhaps the most enticing claim ACV enthusiasts make is that adding ACV to your diet can result in weight loss.
Is there any truth behind this link between apple cider vinegar and weight loss?
There are several properties of apple cider vinegar that contribute to its potential for weight loss:
1. ACV affects how food is digested
The acetic acid in vinegar blocks disaccharidases from being absorbed directly into the bloodstream.
Disaccharidases are enzymes that break down starches for digestion.
By keeping these disaccharidases in the stomach, digestion is completed in a more efficient way, with most starches being successfully broken down.
This process helps avoid a rapid increase of blood sugar level upon consuming starches.
Many healthy diets control blood sugar to help keep eating patterns more regular, and ACV may be able to help with this regulation.
2. ACV makes you feel full
Apple cider vinegar can help you feel full after a meal.
There is even some evidence to show that when blood sugar levels are more evenly maintained, cravings for sugary and unhealthy foods are minimized.
ACV can help avoid the sugar binge by keeping blood sugar levels steady.
3. ACV may help with fat loss
There still is not a ton of research to support this claim, but some researchers are starting to believe that acetic acid plays an important role in fat breakdown.
How to use apple cider vinegar for weight loss
One way to promote weight loss or kick start losing the final pounds to get to a goal weight is to participate in an apple cider vinegar cleanse, or apple cider vinegar detox.
This involves drinking a simple mixture of 1-2 tbsp of ACV, 8 oz of water and 1 to 2 tbsp of raw honey.
Drinking this up to two times a day, once in the morning and once at night for up to a month can be enough to see some results.
The most effective way to see continuing results is to incorporate it into your diet either through using it as a condiment or drinking it daily.
You will have the best results when incorporating ACV into an already healthy lifestyle.
Apple cider vinegar is not a magic bullet. Instead, it is most effective as a supplement to other health-promoting activities and habits.
Other steps you can take to attain overall improvements in your health are:
-cutting back on processed foods and added sugars
-focusing on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats
-exercise for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week.
Apple Cider Vinegar Cosmetic Benefits
Apple Cider Vinegar isn’t just for internal health. There are several cosmetic uses of apple cider vinegar for hair, skin and dental health.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Hair:
ACV can be used as part of your hair care routine to improve scalp health, strengthen hair, and enhance shine.
Dull, brittle or frizzy hair tends to be higher on the pH scale. An acidic substance like ACV helps to lower the pH and bring hair health back into balance.
ACV is also antimicrobial, which can help control bacteria that lead to scalp and hair problems such as itchiness.
ACV is also rich in vitamins and minerals like vitamin c and b which are great for improving hair strength.
Making an apple cider vinegar hair rinse can promote strong, shiny hair.
A simple apple cider hair rinse recipe is:
⅛ cup organic ACV, ¾ cup water
10 drops lemon essential oil
10 drops rosemary essential oil
Combine in a clean bottle.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Dandruff:
The acidity of ACV changes the pH of your scalp, making it harder for yeast to grow.
Spritz a 1 to 1 solution of ACV and water on your scalp. Let it sit for 15 mins to an hour and then wash your hair as normal.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Skin:
Apple cider vinegar is often described as a miracle product for the skin.
It can reduce age spots and hyperpigmentation because it contains alpha hydroxy acids that remove dead skin cells.
ACV can also balance your skin by removing oils and balancing pH and regulating sebum production.
It can also help fight wrinkles and premature aging by tightening the skin.
There are many options for apple cider vinegar skin care.
Apple cider vinegar toner made from ACV and water is one of the simplest ways to use apple cider vinegar for face care.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Acne:
There are anecdotal reports of diluted ACV helping to clear acne when applied to the skin.
This is because of the antibacterial properties that might help to fight off bad bacteria on the skin.
ACV has been shown to treat acne and reduce scarring.
Acne is caused by strains of bacteria.
ACV’s antibacterial properties are effective against many strains of harmful bacteria.
ACV contains acetic acid, lactic acid, succinic acid and citric acid, all of which inhibit the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria that causes acne.
Using face masks and home remedies for acne could produce beneficial skin health.
Apple cider vinegar and honey together can be particularly restorative for the skin.
One simple recipe for an apple cider vinegar acne treatment face mask is:
1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar
2 tsp raw honey and 1 tsp baking soda
A simple recipe for a face wash is:
1 tbsp melted coconut oil
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar for Teeth Whitening:
The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has been reported to help remove plaque from teeth and remove stains caused by smoking or drinking red wine or coffee.
All you need to do to tap into these whitening benefits is to brush with a bit of ACV.
Don’t overdo it as this will erode enamel.
For a less abrasive treatment, mix 1 tsp of ACV with a cup of water and use as a mouthwash rinse.
How to Use Apple Cider Vinegar
The easiest way to incorporate ACV into your diet is to use it in your cooking.
There is a plethora of apple cider vinegar recipes for salad dressings, homemade mayonnaise, and other condiments available on the internet.
ACV can also be used as a marinade for meat or a pickling agent for pickles.
Chances are, you’ve had ACV at some point in its life.
Though the thought of taking a shot of ACV in the morning like some health enthusiasts might seem like overkill, it is also a tasty ingredient.
It can be used in cooking, baking, salad dressings, and as a simple preservative.
There is a lot of acid in ACV, so it is generally recommended that you don’t’ drink it straight.
One simple and tasty salad dressing recipe is:
1 clove of minced garlic
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar
2tbsp fresh lemon juice
1-2 tbsp honey
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Another option is to create an apple cider vinegar drink recipe that works for you.
Some of the most basic recipes include anywhere between 1 tsp and 2 tbsp of ACV diluted in water or tea.
You can mess around with the quantities to determine what is most palatable for you.
To achieve the best results, it is important to use organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar containing the “mother”.
Bragg organic apple cider vinegar is the most popular and widely available option and can be found at most grocery stores.
What about the apple cider vinegar pill?
If you find the taste of ACV objectionable, then you might have considered taking apple cider vinegar tablets instead.
Do these pills actually work? These pills contain a powdered form of apple cider vinegar.
Is it possible for them to have the same benefits as drinking raw, unfiltered Bragg apple cider vinegar?
The short answer is probably not.
There is unfortunately a lot of fraud and mislabeling in the nutritional supplements market.
This industry is not well regulated by the FDA and thus these tablets are not as well tested or regulated as liquid ACV.
Not only could apple cider vinegar pills contain unlabeled filler ingredients, they can also contain varying quantities of the beneficial minerals and acetic acid you are looking for in taking ACV.
Apple Cider Vinegar Side Effects
As with all diet modifications, you will need to take care to avoid the side effects of apple cider vinegar.
ACV is highly acidic and drinking too much of it can cause several unpleasant changes in your body.
Just like with all acidic foods, drinking too much can damage your teeth, throat and stomach.
There have been some reports that drinking apple cider vinegar can cause potassium levels to drop too low.
Your muscles and nerves need that nutrient to work the way they should.
This is because acetic acid, the main benefactor of ACV causes depletion of potassium within the body.
In order to avoid this side effect, consider taking a potassium supplement or upping consumption of potassium-rich foods such as bananas.
Some people with type 1 diabetes have found that ACV slows the rate at which food and liquids leave the stomach to be digested.
This makes it much harder to control your blood sugar levels.
ACV might also interact with medications, causing further adverse side effects or improper absorption of medications.
Medications that ACV tends to affect are those that treat diabetes and heart disease as well as diuretics and laxatives.
If you take daily medications, you should consult a doctor before adding apple cider vinegar to your daily routine.
How to Drink Apple Cider Vinegar
It is not advisable to drink straight ACV. The acidity can damage your throat and stomach if it is not cut with something else.
If you’re trying to find a more palatable way to drink it, try to think of it as an ingredient in a mixed drink.
Instead of an alcoholic beverage, you’ll be creating a health-promoting tonic.
But in the same way that mixed drinks compliment and masque the harsh taste of some alcohols, these apple cider vinegar drink recipes will go down much easier than ACV mixed with water.
Fruity Apple Cider Vinegar Drink Recipe:
This recipe is one of the easiest and most palatable ways to drink ACV. If you enjoy fruity kombucha, this offers a similar kind of taste.
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (or any fruit)
¾ cup organic cane sugar or ¼ cup maple syrup
3 oz sparkling water
1 lime (optional)
Combine 1 cup apple cider vinegar and 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (or any fruit). Let sit overnight.
Add ¾ cup organic cane sugar or ¼ cup maple syrup
To serve, combine a 1oz shot of your fruit infused ACV with 3 oz sparkling water and a hint of lime.
Sugar-Free Apple Cider Vinegar Drink Recipe:
If you are dubious about adding sugar to your drink aimed at weight loss, you could also try this Braggs apple cider vinegar weight loss recipe which contains no sugar:
3 tea bags (apple cider tea bags are great for this!)
5 cups of water
2 tablespoons of Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
30 drops of liquid stevia sweetener
Steep 3 tea bags in 2 cups of boiling water.
Add 3 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, and 30 drops of liquid stevia sweetener.
Stir and drink.
How much apple cider vinegar should I drink?
You definitely don’t want to overdo the amount of ACV in your system.
Moderation is key to adding ACV into your diet.
There isn’t really a set amount or dosage that you should be drinking to attain the best health benefits.
Anywhere between 1 tsp to 3 tbsp is a safe range.
It’s best to experiment to figure out how much apple cider vinegar is the right amount for you to see the health benefits you are looking for.
Whether you’re interested in using apple cider vinegar for heartburn or skin care or weight loss, the most important thing to keep in mind is that ACV is not a cure-all.
It could be an aid to assist you in living a healthier, happier life, but it will not solve all of your health problems.
If you have any health conditions, including cancer or diabetes, it is important to consult a doctor before dramatically increasing your apple cider vinegar consumption.
Unlike most diet trends, the “apple cider vinegar diet” is not a diet at all. Rather, it simply involves including a single ingredient into your lifestyle than might help you lose weight, stave off illness and improve your overall health. Apple cider vinegar won’t magically cure all of your ailments, but it could be a powerful tool in keeping you looking and feeling your best.
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Kimberly Clay is the founder and creative force behind What She Say. She’s a business professional, writer and editor who’s been creating and managing digital content for nearly twenty years. Her work is now focused in the areas of self-improvement and personal development, and she is passionate about helping other individuals, especially women, to find a path for living their best life.