Vinegar has been around for thousands of years and been used in various ways. It is also believed to have many health benefits despite its acidic nature. However, not all vinegars are created equal. Some types offer more health benefits such as apple cider vinegar (ACV). So, I'd like to dedicate this blog post to talk all about the wonders of apple cider vinegar.
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☀ What is Apple Cider Vinegar? ☀
Apple cider vinegar is just basically fermented apple juice. It is made by combining apple juice with yeast which converts the sugar in the apple juice into alcohol. The alcohol is then fermented into acetic acid by adding bacteria to the mixture.
Acetic acid is considered as a weak acid and makes up 5-6% of ACV. Although it is considered as a weak acid, it still has fairly strong acidic properties when it comes in a concentrated form.
ACV has many medicinal properties and has been used since ancient times. However, you need to understand that not all ACVs are created the same. Filtered and pasteurized ACVs don't contain as many nutrients and minerals as the raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized version. When buying ACV look for the unfiltered ones and labeled with 'the mother'. Check out the infographics below for the nutrition facts of apple cider vinegar.
☀ What's the Big Deal about 'The Mother'? ☀
You've probably seen ACV products like Bragg's that says 'with 'the mother'' on its label and you may be wondering what that means. It simply means that it still contains the culture of beneficial bacteria that turn the mixture into vinegar. The mother is similar to the SCOBY in kombucha tea and has a ghost-like film appearance that is floating at the bottom of the unrefined vinegar and gives it a murky appearance.
The health benefits of raw ACV can be attributed to the presence of the mother culture.
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Vinegars that have a clear appearance have already undergone a filtration process where the mother is removed. Likewise, it has already been stripped of many of its nutrients.
☀ Health Benefits Of Apple Cider Vinegar ☀
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Raw and unfiltered apple cider vinegar that hasn't gone into any filtration process is a nutrient powerhouse. It has many known health benefits but here are the best-known ones.
- Blood sugar level management
- Maintains healthy alkaline-pH levels
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduces heart health risks
- Detoxifies the body
- Offers relief from various digestive ailment symptoms
- For weight loss and belly fat reduction
- May help prevent osteoporosis
- Better skin health
- Offers relief from acid reflux symptoms
- Has anti-aging properties
- Helps protect you against free radical damage
You can read more about it in detail here.
☀ Uses of Apple Cider Vinegar ☀
Apple cider vinegar is a very versatile substance that can be used in various ways. It can be added to foods or drinks, as well as be used to treat acne or as an antiseptic for cleaning wounds. Let's go through some of its popular uses.
☀ As a morning smoothie
Jumpstart your day with an ACV morning smoothie. Just mix 2 tablespoons of ACV to your regular morning smoothie and you have an instant energy drink. The taste can be a little strong so you may want to add just a little bit at first.
☀ For better digestion
Combine 2 tablespoons of ACV, 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, fresh lemon juice in 8 ounces of sparkling water. You may also add raw honey to taste. Add ice to better enjoy this tonic.
☀ As a facial toner
You may also use ACV as a facial toner by adding 1 part ACV to 3 or 4 parts of water. Apply to skin with the use of a cotton ball or pad and let it sit for around 10 minutes before thoroughly rinsing your face. For best results, do these 3 times a day.
☀ As an all-purpose cleaner
Mix equal parts of ACV and water then add a few drops of essential oil such as lemon oil.
☀ As a detox bath
1 cup of ACV, 2 cups of Epsom Salts, and a few drops of lavender essential oil mixed with bathwater make for a really relaxing and detoxifying bath.
☀ As a body scrub
Use it as a body scrub by combining 2 tablespoons of ACV, 1 tablespoon of honey, and 1 cup granulated sugar.
☀ As a fruit fly trap
Pour a thin layer of ACV in a container then add some dish soap. Place it on the counter to trap fruit flies.
☀ For removing cat urine smell
The smell of cat urine is pretty bad and hard to remove when it comes to contact with your clothes. You can add ACV in the washer to help remove the smell.
☀ For bad breath
You can use ACV as a gargle to get rid of bad breath. Simply mix 1/2 tablespoon of ACV in a glass of water. Gargle for 10 seconds. Repeat until you no longer have bad breath. Additionally, this can help whiten your teeth. However, you shouldn't use it as a gargle all the time since ACV is still highly acidic and may damage the enamel of your teeth.
☀ For post-workout recovery
Avoid lactic buildup and recover faster after a workout by consuming water with 1 tablespoon of ACV.
☀ For shinier hair
For shinier and smoother hair, briefly soak your hair with 1/3 cup of ACV after shampooing then thoroughly rinse. You can also create your own DIY ACV shampoo by combining 1 tablespoon of ACV to 1 cup chamomile tea. Additionally, 1 to 3 tablespoons of ACV applied to the scalp can help remove buildup.
☀ For cooking fluffier rice
Amazingly, adding a teaspoon of ACV to rice water can help you get fluffier rice--without any vinegar taste!
☀ As a health tonic
Create a general health tonic by mixing ACV together with raw honey, distilled water, and cayenne pepper.
☀ As a rust/mineral remover
Soak a piece of cloth in ACV then place it over rust or mineral stains overnight to remove them.
☀ When to Avoid Apple Cider Vinegar? ☀
Avoid ACV if you are any of the following:
- A diabetic taking insulin or insulin-stimulating medication because ACV may lower your blood sugar or potassium to very dangerous levels.
- Taking medications to lower blood potassium levels such as Digoxin (Lanoxin).
- On a diuretic medication that causes the body to excrete potassium.
- Pregnant or nursing to avoid the possible negative effects of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar on the development of the fetus or on the newborn baby.
- Have already gone through menopause as ACV can potentially increase the risk of osteoporosis for postmenopausal women.
☀ Possible Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar ☀
There is no doubt about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar. Even science backs this up. However, that is only true when taken in small amounts. Consuming too much ACV may actually backfire by doing more harm than good. Listed below are just some of the possible side effects of taking too much ACV.
☀ May worsen digestive conditions
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In most cases, ACV helps with indigestion. However, not everyone can benefit from it. Some studies have shown that consumption of ACV helps suppress your appetite by making you feel full. However, another controlled study suggests that ACV decreases appetite due to indigestion.
☀ Blood sugar management issues
Apple cider vinegar is widely known for its ability to prevent blood sugar spikes as it helps reduce the time food stays in the stomach before moving to the lower digestive tract which slows down its absorption into the bloodstream. While this may benefit most people, it may actually worsen the symptoms of gastroparesis, a common condition suffered by those with type 1 diabetes.
It's already hard to predict how long it will take for food to get digested and absorbed by the body as it is. So, timing insulin with every meal will be extra difficult for people with type 1 diabetes and gastroparesis when they take ACV.
☀ Increased Risk of Bone Loss and Low Potassium Levels
While there aren't any controlled studies to prove that ACV has adverse effects on bone health and blood potassium, there was one case reported of bone loss and low blood potassium due to consumption of large amounts of ACV.
A 28-year-old woman was admitted to the hospital because of low potassium and other problems in her blood chemistry. She was also diagnosed with osteoporosis, a bone disease. The medical team who treated her found out that she consumed 8 ounces of ACV every day for the last six years. Wow! That's a lot!. Anyway, they believed that her large consumption of ACV caused the acidity of her blood to spike which leached the minerals from her bones causing bone loss. The doctors also noted that high levels of acid can reduce the formation of new bones.
However, it's also important to note that this is an isolated case and is due to the fact that the patient consumed abnormally large doses of ACV for many years.
☀ Tooth Enamel Erosion
Food and beverages that are high in acid content. such as soft drinks and fruit juices, can damage tooth enamel. Although apple cider vinegar offers various health benefits, it is still a vinegar and all vinegars are acidic by nature.
Our saliva helps buffer the acidity in most foods and beverages that we consume. However, taking large amounts of vinegar may still result in tooth erosion, especially when taken undiluted. Take for example the case of a 15-year-old kid who drank one cup of undiluted ACV daily for weight loss purposes. Of course, she ended up with severe tooth decay.
Remember, never drink undiluted vinegar, even if it's apple cider vinegar. It will not only cause dental erosion but also various health problems, especially in your gut.
☀ Skin burns
One of the benefits of apple cider vinegar is its antibacterial properties that's why many people use it to clean wounds and clear acne. However, it doesn't always work. There are some cases where the acid in the apple cider vinegar caused more harm than good when applied directly to the skin.
For example, a 14-year-old girl tried to remove the two moles on her nose by applying ACV on them. However, instead of removing the said moles, she developed erosions on her nose. Another case involved a mother who treated her 6-year-old son's wound with ACV who ended up with leg burns. There are several more online reports of skin burns caused by ACV. So, to be on the safe side, always dilute ACV when applying directly on the skin, especially the face.
☀ The Bottom Line ☀
Apple cider vinegar, like every other type of food, has its good side and bad side. It offers many health benefits but, at the same time, have potentially negative effects. If you are a diabetic taking insulin and other medications that cause your potassium level to drop, you should avoid ACV. Additionally, don't consume more than you're supposed to and never consume it undiluted as it can cause several health problems.
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