Apple cider vinegar is a common household product that many people use to improve their health and wellness. That said, how much do you really know about this product and what it's capable of?
Understanding the true health benefits of apple cider vinegar can help you use it in ways that will improve your life. We're going to give you a quintessential guide to apple cider vinegar, helping you understand the ins and outs of this product and what it does.
In reality, apple cider vinegar is a really simple thing. The simple explanation of how apple cider vinegar is made is that you ferment apple cider. That's how you produce most types of vinegar, through a process of fermentation that comes to fruition over the course of a few weeks.
As we'll discuss, apple cider vinegar is something that has existed for thousands of years. In North America, the process of fermenting apples was integral for the past few hundred years.
Only recently, though, have people started to uncover the specific benefits that apple cider vinegar offers. Let's dig a little deeper.
The History of Apple Cider Vinegar
The history of apple cider vinegar really starts with the act of intentional fermentation. As far as historians can tell, this practice has gone back as far as 9,000 years.
Vinegar is a more fermented form of wine, and there's evidence that fermented rice and honey wine was used in China nearly 10,000 years ago. When wine goes sour from fermentation, it's considered vinegar.
Naturally, there are thousands of ways to create vinegar, so there are different processes that people go through to make it. That said, over-fermented liquids have been used as condiments, tonics, and general medical aids for thousands of years.
Apple cider vinegar goes back nearly that far as well. We can assume that any region native to apple trees of various kinds after the discovery of fermentation would have used apple cider vinegar.
As for North America, apple trees and orchards were a staple for early Western settlers. Apple ciders and vinegar were very common in the early nineteenth century, and fragments of that culture have persisted to this day.
Apple Cider Vinegar Today
It's only been for the past couple of decades, though, since the "apple cider vinegar craze" started.
Since then, the product gets used for gut health, weight loss, blood sugar maintenance, cleaning, hair health, skin clarity, and even dental whitening. The list could go on.
The myriad uses of apple cider vinegar are now front and center, and people use it for everything under the sun. One key point to remember is that you should seek out apple cider vinegar that still contains the "mother."
The mother is the mass of probiotic bacteria that aids in the fermentation process. It may sound weird to seek out bacteria, but note that it's a good kind of bacteria.
The gut is host to a network of trillions of bacteria that contribute to your immune system, mental wellness, and much more. The mother helps improve your gut health and contributes to the group of health benefits that come from apple cider vinegar.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar and How Is It Made?
First, you expose the apple cider vinegar to yeast. Yeast is the cluster of bacteria that will work on the fermentation process for you.
Take apple cider, leave it in a container, and let it ferment. After a week or two, the cider will become "hard," or contain a level of alcohol. Once the liquid's been sitting for two-to-four weeks, it will become what we know as apple cider vinegar.
If you're going through the process yourself, make sure to keep the liquid in a container with the widest mouth possible. The more of the liquid you can expose to air, the quicker the fermentation process will occur. You also have to cover the container with a cheesecloth or something that prevents bugs from entering.
You know when it's done by tasting it. Give it a taste every few days to ensure that everything's on track, and can or bottle the liquid when you feel that it's done.
It's that simple. Through that process, you get an appreciation of how wine is made as well. Fermentation is something that doesn't require too much work if you don't want to get too particular about it.
Bacteria undergo their natural process and transform the source liquid into something we can use.
What Nutrients Does Apple Cider Vinegar Contain?
Apple cider vinegar is host to a wide range of beneficial nutrients. These nutrients add to the existing health benefits of apple cider vinegar, which we'll discuss in the next section.
Among these nutrients are magnesium, antioxidants, amino acids, iron, manganese, and phosphorous.
The Many Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Many health benefits of apple cider vinegar are thought to come from something called acetic acid. Acetic acid isn't present in the liquid until the alcohol ferments.
Once the apple cider ferments and generates alcohol, the process continues and the alcohol ferments into acetic acid. This acid is responsible for the smell that vinegar has as well.
On top of acetic acid, the following benefits come through after the process of fermentation.
High in Healthy Substances
As we mentioned earlier, apple cider vinegar contains a number of healthy substances. From magnesium to phosphorous, the containments of a bottle of apple cider vinegar could almost serve as a dietary supplement.
At the same time, it's low in calories so you're not offsetting your diet all that much. There are about three calories per tablespoon.
Another important aspect of the substance is the mother, which we described briefly above. Alongside healthy bacteria, the mother is host to healthy proteins and enzymes. That mass of good bacteria is useful in warding off bad bacteria as well.
Ancient doctors would even use vinegar to clean wounds. While you might not want to use apple cider vinegar over other disinfectants it's still worth noting that it does have disinfectant properties.
Can Help Manage Blood Sugar
It's also thought to improve an individual's sensitivity to insulin, which helps manage blood sugar for those with diabetes. Individuals with type 2 diabetes are resistant to insulin and may be unable to produce it in some cases.
There's some evidence to show that taking vinegar before meals can manage the blood sugar level that would otherwise come after those meals. That said, it's important to talk with your doctor if you plan to supplement your diabetes treatment.
May Aid in Weight Loss
On top of that, vinegar increases fullness. That means it can help with weight loss if you're on a new diet. Individuals who take a tablespoon or more of apple cider vinegar before eating could find that they eat less over the course of the day.
The presence of healthy bacteria in the gut biome might also improve things like metabolism and digestion. Those factors may help someone get into a healthy dietary routine.
May Help Your Skin
Apple cider vinegar might also help manage the natural pH of one's skin, benefiting issues like eczema and dry skin. This is a great alternative to some of the alkaline soaps and washes on the market.
Another factor is vinegar's disinfectant quality that could help to cleanse and wash your pores to prevent infections, acne, and dry skin. Depending on who you ask, you might get another laundry list of colloquial uses for apple cider vinegar as well.
Apple Cider Vinegar Usage and Doses
It would be unwise to use apple cider vinegar without having some measured approach to it. It's also important to find different ways to ingest it, as the taste of vinegar might be a little overbearing at times.
One great way to incorporate the product without noticing the flavor is in cooking.
Use It in Your Cooking
It's easy to incorporate a spoonful or two of apple cider vinegar into a meal. Generally speaking, the recommended dosage is a spoonful or two. Considering that there's not too much scientific research or analysis on the dosages, it's hard to give specific "treatments" with amounts.
The only thing to avoid is boiling apple cider vinegar, as the health benefits might get diminished.
Dilute it in Water
If there's not a good time for you to use apple cider vinegar in your cooking and you want to incorporate it, you can always dilute it in water. Throw a tablespoon of the product into a full water bottle and you might not taste it at all.
You could also dilute the vinegar into a glass, fill the rest with water, and drink it down quickly.
Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies
Apple cider vinegar gummies are a great way to get all of the benefits of the vinegar without the strong flavor. Instead, you get a tasty gummy that doesn't even remind you of the normal taste.
Plus, gummies give you a reliable dosage each time you take one.
Take a Spoonful Straight (If You Can Handle It!)
While the taste of apple cider vinegar gets strong, it's nothing that will do any damage to you. If you have the stomach to take a spoonful of the stuff, doing so is the easiest way to get your dosage.
Try working your way up if you can't do it at first. Over the course of a few days, you might be able to take larger doses.
Risks and Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar
Now, it's important to note that there are some things about apple cider vinegar that might not be great for you. Any substance with potential health benefits is bound to have a few qualities on the other side of the coin.
Apple cider vinegar might have negative consequences if you have preexisting health conditions or other issues that we'll discuss. Let's take a look at the negative side of things.
The acidity of apple cider vinegar is a positive thing if you're reestablishing the pH levels of your skin, but you have to use the substance in the appropriate amount. Further, there are some individuals who are very sensitive to acidity.
For example, people have reported burns or rashes on their skin after applying apple cider vinegar medicinally. Individuals who try to treat infection with apple cider vinegar might also experience burns on the area that they're trying to treat.
May Cause Potassium Levels to Drop
Individuals who take large amounts of apple cider vinegar over an extended period of time could experience low potassium. Low potassium leads to bone issues including bone loss and osteoporosis.
Incorporating large amounts of this substance into your daily routine for a period of years might have this effect.
Delayed Stomach Emptying
The way that apple cider vinegar reduces the blood sugar levels after eating is through the process of slowing the digestive process. Because food takes longer to leave the stomach and enter the digestive tract, blood sugar levels don't spike as quickly.
On the other end of this, that process can cause problems. If there is a large backup caused by apple cider vinegar, an individual experiences symptoms of gastroparesis. Gastroparesis is a disorder where food stays in the stomach for longer than it's supposed to, causing a chain reaction of negative health effects.
Can Affect Medication
The drug interactions that apple cider vinegar has exist in the areas of bone health and blood sugar levels. When you're treating things like osteoporosis or diabetes, the medications you have get your potassium and insulin levels in the right place.
Introducing apple cider vinegar can expand the effects of the medication, leading to negative outcomes. There might be other medications that apple cider vinegar interacts with as well, so it's important to talk with a doctor if you're on medication.
Digestive Side Effects
The digestive side effects of apple cider vinegar come from the slowed digestive system discussed above. You might experience some constipation, bloating, and more.
Further, those who take a lot of apple cider vinegar might lose a significant amount of their appetite. That can contribute to a number of problems as well.
As a general rule of thumb, consult with your doctor before you take apple cider vinegar if you're on any medications. If you're not on medications and want to try the health benefits of this product, do so in a supplemental manner.
Take only a tablespoon or two per day, and make note of any differences that you experience. If there's a negative effect, talk with your doctor as soon as possible.
Incorporating Apple Cider Into Your Daily Routine
You might be interested in adding apple cider vinegar to your daily routine. It's a great way to try to improve your health if you're someone with no potential complications.
There's a lot more to learn about your health, and Insurdinary is a great resource for that. We're here to help. Explore our site for more ideas on improving your health and wellness.