Apple Cider Vinegar
Like most of Mother Nature’s most valuable gifts, the knowledge and use of Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has been around for thousands of years. ACV is made from fresh, crushed apples, which are kept in wooden barrels and left to mature naturally through the process of fermentation. Throughout history, ACV has been used for its flavor, to preserve food, and also for its many medicinal properties. There is evidence of its use in Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, throughout the Middle Ages, and even on ships to prevent scurvy during the U.S civil war. Julius Caesar’s army is said to have drunk ACV daily to ward off disease and maintain a fighting level of health (1). Thanks to its variety of uses and properties, ACV has withstood the test of time and is recommended by many health experts today.
ACV differs from other vinegars due to its brownish color, and the appearance of tiny strand-like substances floating inside it. These cobwebs are known as the “mother” and are highly beneficial to the vinegar and to our health. ACV differs from other vinegars as most other vinegars are distilled to achieve a consumer-friendly color and taste. The distilling process destroys the vinegar’s natural and powerful enzymes, and effectively removes the beneficial minerals. When you are buying ACV, it is essential to purchase raw, organic, and unfiltered, to ensure that the vinegar still has all of its life-giving properties and essential minerals. Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar is a trust-worthy brand, that sells organic raw, unfiltered, and unpasteurized ACV in its purest and healthiest form.
Vitamins & Minerals
- Vitamins B1, B2, B6
- Folic acid
- Pantothenic acid
- Vitamin C
Pectin – Another unique feature of ACV is the fact that it is made from apples and therefore contains pectin. Pectin is a soluble fiber that easily absorbs water and forms a gel-like consistency. In the holistic medicine world this is also referred to as a demulcent. Demulcents are commonly used to soothe and heal inflammation in the digestive tract. The gel-like texture of pectin provides the following health benefits (2).
- Improves diarrhea by bulking the stool.
- Decreases constipation by softening the stool (in conjunction with increased water consumption).
- Reduces hunger and improves weight loss through the stimulation of the hormone GLP-1.
- Lowers cholesterol levels by binding bile acids in the small intestines.
- Provides blood sugar regulation, thus helping to prevent diabetes.
Acetic Acid – ACV is also rich in acetic acid, which is a sour-tasting compound produced in the process of fermenting fruits. It is what gives ACV that sharp cheek puckering taste that can make it difficult to swallow. Acetic acid is currently being studied for many health applications including lowering blood glucose, removing plaque from arteries, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing inflammation. Additionally, acetic acid is extremely antimicrobial. This is why ACV has a long shelf life and doesn’t require refrigeration.
1. Heart Health– Regular use of ACV can actually work towards promoting a healthy heart. It does this in two ways. The first is by actively lowering cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that can build up in the arteries, putting a strain on your heart as it has to work harder than usual to pump blood around the body. ACV has proven to lower levels of cholesterol in the body, as well as increasing HDL cholesterol (our good cholesterol) (3). The second way ACV helps keep our hearts happy is by reducing blood pressure. High blood pressure can cause heart disease by increasing the effort of the heart, causing it to weaken over time. Animal studies have shown that vinegar can block the actions of a specific enzyme that can lead to raised blood pressure (4).
2. Glowing Skin– Evidence suggests that ACV is not only great for your internal health, but can also effectively treat acne, and scarring caused by acne. Most acne is caused by the bacteria Propionibacterium acnes. ACV contains powerful antibacterial properties and can be made into facemasks and toners that help fight off this harmful bacteria.
3. Balanced pH– Although ACV is acidic in nature, it actually has an alkalizing effect on the system after the body processes it. Maintaining a healthy pH level is vital for all biochemical processes to occur optimally in the body. A couple of tablespoons of ACV a day can work towards keeping pH balanced.
4. Improves Glucose Regulation– Studies show that those with insulin resistance who regularly use ACV have 34% lower postprandial glucose, compared to those who do not (5). Further studies have found that using ACV at bedtime reduces fasting blood glucose in the morning, suggesting that ACV might prompt insulin production.
5. Healthy Weight Loss– ACV has had a lot of coverage recently due to its metabolism enhancing effects, and many health experts are recommending it for its ability to help aid weight loss. One study found a significant decrease in BMI, visceral fat, and waist circumference after the consumption of 2 Tbs of ACV per day for 12 weeks (6). Many other studies have confirmed the benefits of ACV when it comes to shifting unwanted pounds, however, it should not be used as a quick fix. ACV should be used in combination with a healthy diet and active lifestyle to obtain the best, and most wholesome, results.
6. Gut Health– ACV is full of healthy, beneficial, bacteria (probiotics) that can enhance the health of your digestive system. ACV is considered to be food for the probiotics in the gut, leading to increased immunity and a well-supported gut microbiome. By increasing the acidity in the stomach, it supports a better-functioning digestive system. Furthermore, it is an astringent, and thus causes the cells in the stomach to release digestive enzymes, promoting the body’s ability to breakdown and absorb nutrients at a higher rate. To increase digestion, you can mix 1-2 teaspoons of ACV in 8-10 oz of water and drink it before lunch and dinner.
The healthy bacteria in ACV and the acetic acid they produce, can also crowd-out and kill off the fungal yeast, Candida. Candida tends to overgrow when the body becomes too acidic. An acidic environment is created when too many processed foods, simple carbohydrates, sugars, and chemicals are consumed. Studies have shown that Candida species are sensitive to the acetic acid found in ACV, making it an excellent option for keeping yeast at bay (7).
7. Heartburn & Acid Reflux Relief – Acid Reflux, also known as GERD, is the backflow of acid from the stomach up into the esophagus, causing burning and nausea. Although it may seem like heartburn and acid reflux are symptoms of having too much acid, it is often the result of not having enough. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is the opening from the esophagus to the stomach, closes when there is sufficient acid production in the stomach. If there isn’t enough acid, then the LES doesn’t close, and acid is able to flow up into the esophagus. Drinking daily ACV introduces more acid into the digestive tract and helps reduce the chances of the LES not closing. ACV also improves gastric emptying, decreasing the time that food sits in the stomach, and therefore reduces the risk of extra bloating and pressure leading to heartburn.
It should be noted that some heartburn is the result of too much acid in the stomach. In these situations, ACV can aggravate these symptoms rather than alleviate them. It’s best to start slow at first, so you can see how the vinegar settles in your stomach. Try 1 tsp of ACV in a full glass of water. If this doesn’t cause any burning, then you can gradually increase to 2 Tbs.
Other Fun Uses
ACV is an excellent medicinal tool to keep in your home. It has an almost indefinite shelf life, does not need to be kept in the fridge, and has a plethora of uses and benefits. As well as being great for treating colds and flus, acne, digestive issues, and lowering blood sugar, ACV also has many wonderful household uses. Due to its antibacterial properties ACV can be used as a homemade cleaner. Mix it with some water and essential oils (thieves, lemon, rosemary, thyme, peppermint) and keep it in a spray bottle to make an effective, chemical free, cleaner for almost everything in your home.
It also works wonders as a hair rinse as it removes product build up, helps to detangle, and adds softness and shine to your hair. Try mixing ACV with water then pour the mixture over your hair, leave it in for a few minutes before washing it out. You can also replace your daily facial toner with a diluted mix of ACV and water. Apply the mixture to the skin with a cotton pad, just like you would with regular toner. ACV can be used to replace a variety of chemical products in your everyday life (mouthwash, teeth-whitener, deodorant, food cleaner, etc.), and promote a healthier, more natural, way of living, freeing your day-to-day routine from harmful products.
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Affiliate Disclosure: In the spirit of full disclosure, there are affiliate links in this article, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase any such product. I only recommend products and services that I use and love myself.