Woman with stomach pain clutching her stomach.

The Truth About Apple Cider Vinegar & Gut Inflammation

You’ve heard the buzz about apple cider vinegar (ACV). Dubbed by some as a ‘miracle food’, it’s been lauded for a slew of health benefits, from promoting weight loss to reducing gut inflammation. But is there scientific evidence behind these claims? 

I’m a dietitian and I use ACV almost every day, but that doesn’t mean it’s a miracle cure!

So, let’s delve deeper into ACV, particularly its effects on gut inflammation.

A Little Bit About ACV

At its core, ACV is fermented apple juice. 

unfiltered, raw apple cider vinegar with mother in a glass cruet against orange textured paper.

The fermentation process of ACV begins when yeast and bacteria break down the sugars in apples into alcohol. Subsequently, acetic acid-forming bacteria (acetobacter) convert the alcohol into acetic acid, giving ACV its distinctive taste and aroma.

Unfiltered ACV retains the “mother,” a cloudy substance rich in beneficial enzymes and probiotics that enhance its health properties.

But what does all this mean to you? Let’s discuss.

ACV and the Digestive System

The human digestive system is a sophisticated network that includes both beneficial and harmful bacteria. The natural probiotics found in ACV may promote the growth of a healthy gut microbiome, leading to a healthier digestive system overall.

The acidic qualities of ACV may help you break down and absorb nutrients from your food. Consuming ACV before eating can aid digestion and help prevent symptoms like heartburn or reflux for some people (1). 

If you suffer from low stomach acid, which can cause acid reflux, a tablespoon of ACV in warm water might act as a natural remedy. However, there is not enough science to back up this claim.

One study demonstrated that ACV can reduce constipation caused by Clozapine, a medication for schizophrenia (2). 

However, recent studies emphasize a cautious approach. The acetic acid in ACV can be harsh, potentially impacting tooth enamel (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35436789/) or worsening ulcerative colitis. 

Always consult with a registered dietitian or healthcare provider to find the best way to incorporate ACV into your daily diet.

And in addition to aiding digestion, ACV might be a boon to your immune system too!

Immune System and Inflammation

Your gut is intricately linked to your immune system. From a microscopic viewpoint, ACV has shown potential in its antibacterial properties. It’s been observed to combat strains like E. coli, S. aureus, and Candida Albicans (3). 

Both E.Coli and S. Aureus can cause serious infections. Candida Albicans is a naturally occurring fungus that can cause yeast infections.

Eww, right? Let’s fight those nasty bugs!

A row of Bragg apple cider vinegar bottles up close.

And if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease,  the caffeic acid in ACV gives it anti-inflammatory properties. This could mean less bloating and other uncomfortable side effects for you!

However, it’s worth noting that few studies have been conducted and none show a direct correlation between ACV intake and gut inflammation.

But maybe you’re concerned more about blood sugar?

ACV and Blood Sugar Control

Studies suggest that consuming ACV can improve insulin sensitivity and slow gastric emptying, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels after meals. This is especially helpful if you have insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes (4, 5).  

The presence of acetic acid seems to slow down the blood glucose response after a starch-rich meal. 

And it might be helpful for managing weight and cholesterol too! 

ACV, Weight Loss, and Cholesterol Levels

Some studies suggest that ACV can aid in reducing body fat, making it a popular choice if you are trying to manage your weight (6, 7).     

Red apple on a white notebook with a blue tape measure.

Additionally, ACV may have a positive effect on triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood (8), and reduce total cholesterol levels (9).  

Elevated triglyceride levels can increase the risk of heart disease, so integrating ACV into your diet could potentially be good news for your heart. 

But let’s look at other news.

The Good News and the Not-so-good

Most evidence supports the fact that moderate amounts of ACV are safe for most people and come with few side effects. 

However, too much apple cider vinegar can lead to digestive issues, a buildup of gas, or even exacerbate acid reflux in those with a lot of stomach acid production. 

If you decide to add ACV to your diet, it’s best to start low and go slow to be sure you don’t suffer any adverse effects.

How to do this you ask? As a dietitian, I’m here to answer!

Apple cider vinegar being drizzled on a salad.

How to Add ACV to a Healthy Diet

Prepare an ACV infusion. Combine 1 tablespoon of ACV with a cup of hot or warm water. Enhance with a teaspoon of lemon juice for better digestion. Sweeten the mix with a touch of natural honey or a natural sweetener such as stevia or monk fruit extract.

Blend ACV into your smoothie. Counteract the sharp taste of ACV by incorporating it into a healthy shake. Try adding 1 Tbsp. of ACV to your daily smoothie.

Dress your salad with ACV. ACV is a great base for salad dressings. Whip up a simple dressing by mixing 1 tablespoon of ACV with an equal amount of olive oil. Season with a sprinkle of black pepper.

Apple Cider Vinegar and Gut Inflammation

So, is apple cider vinegar the solution to all gut woes? Perhaps not. 

But does it have potential benefits when used judiciously? Recent studies lean towards a ‘yes’. 

However, further research is needed, and individual responses can vary. 

If you’re curious about integrating ACV into your routine – whether in salad dressings or a diluted form – always proceed with knowledge and caution. Remember, achieving good gut health is a comprehensive process, and ACV is just one tool in a vast toolkit!

Want to learn more about ACV and gut inflammation? Check out these related posts!
Apple Cider Vinegar Liquid vs Gummies: the Great Debate
Menopause Stomach Issues: Digestion & Bloating
Printable Food List for Anti-inflammatory Diet (FREE)

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