Apple cider vinegar – a daily wellness booster?

Guest post by

Charlotte Haigh

Charlotte Haigh is a London-based health writer, contributing regularly to titles including Stylist, Marie Claire, Woman & Home, Healthy, Women's Health, Grazia and Health & Fitness.

Author views are not our own.

You might have heard about people using apple cider vinegar – often shortened to ACV – as part of their daily wellbeing routine. I take it every morning myself, along with my supplements. Should you? Well, here’s a quick round-up of what we know at the moment…

What exactly is ACV?

It’s produced when the sugars from apples are fermented. ACV’s key ingredient is acetic acid – which all vinegars have in common, from the stuff at your local chippie to the quality balsamic you drizzle over your salad. But ACV contains something else that’s of special interest. When it’s filtered, it looks like a clear liquid, but left unfiltered, it has a cloudy appearance and you might notice strands floating in it. You’re looking at something called ‘the mother’ – a combination of yeast and bacteria that forms during fermentation. This is what many believe gives ACV its health benefits, and is the reason you’ll see bottles labelled ‘with the mother’ (which may seem rather mystifying until you understand!)

Weight loss promises

Google ‘apple cider vinegar diet’ and you’ll find a lot of weight loss promises out there – it’s one of the drivers behind ACV’s recent surge in popularity. But is there any research to back this up? In one study, overweight or obese participants took 1tbsp of ACV with lunch and dinner, as part of a diet that came to 250 calories below their estimated daily requirements. Researchers discovered the people who took ACV lost almost 4lbs more than a control group, who followed the same lower-calorie diet but didn’t take the ACV. The researchers theorise ACV may help by dampening down appetite – acetic acid has been shown to slow the absorption of starches in food, and that may keep you feeling fuller for longer.[1] Although it sounds promising, the study was small and didn’t follow up participants for long. So the jury’s out on that one.

But there may be another positive…

The weight loss study showed ACV reduced total blood cholesterol and triglycerides, and increased levels of the healthy high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.[2] And other research has found it slightly reduced cholesterol in people whose levels weren’t raised to an unhealthy point. That study compared ACV with malt vinegar, which was found not to have the same effect. This suggests it’s a compound unique to ACV that has the influence on cholesterol, not just acetic acid.[3]

It may help prevent blood sugar spikes, too

Some research suggests ACV may support blood glucose control. A few studies have found it may help prevent spikes in people with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, with one piece of research showing ACV could significantly lower blood glucose after a meal in people with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes.[4] Nobody’s suggesting ACV could actually treat or prevent diabetes but it may have a role in a broader management plan, alongside weight loss, a healthy diet and exercise.

And people use it for other reasons

Arthritis is one you may have heard about. And fans swear it can help with digestion, easing bloating – which makes sense, given its beneficial bacteria, so important for the gut microbiome. Unfortunately, scientific evidence to back up these uses and most others doesn’t really exist, largely because so far, there haven’t been enough clinical trials. But in reality, a splash of ACV is unlikely to harm you and many people – myself included – like to take it as an overall wellbeing booster. 

How to use it

Diluting ACV is a good call because – as you might expect – it’s highly acidic and could affect tooth enamel over time (if you’re going to take it first thing, brush your teeth first). Otherwise, it’s safe for most people, although you should avoid if you have chronic acid reflux or chronic kidney disease as the acid could be problematic.

The studies suggesting certain benefits for ACV looked at people taking 2tbsp daily, usually diluted in warm water. Manuka Doctor’s range of honey-enriched, unfiltered ACV gives you the benefits of ACV with the Mother and Manuka honey, while adding a delicious flavour. Try ACV with Manuka Honey or ACV with Manuka Honey and Ginger – zingy and delicious.

[1]  Khezri SS et al. Beneficial effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, Visceral Adiposity Index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving restricted calorie diet: A randomized clinical trial. Found at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464618300483

[2] Khezri SS et al. Beneficial effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, Visceral Adiposity Index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving restricted calorie diet: A randomized clinical trial. Found at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1756464618300483

[3] https://thefast800.com/health-benefits-for-apple-cider-vinegar/

[4] Johnston CS et al. Vinegar Improves Insulin Sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes. Found at: http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/1/281.long

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