Apple Cider Vinegar: Can it help or hinder?

The press is full of apple cider vinegar success stories and there are certainly many study supported benefits, but I’ve had quite a few new patients who arrive in my office after reading glowing articles on apple cider vinegar… “the miracle … everything” and tell me they’ve tried it and ended up with stomach pain, digestive discomfort or a sore throat that won’t go away. So, use with caution in terms of both quantity, timing, and quality

Who should NOT use it?

  • Those who get heartburn– even occasionally (I know, I know – there’s lots of press to the contrary – but if you have active heartburn your gut is too inflamed to benefit!
  • Those who have ulcers in the stomach or any other area of the digestive tract
  • Those who have inflammation diagnosed through an upper endoscopy
  • Those that wake up with a full feeling in their throat
  • Those that have (or suspect they have) active seasonal or food allergies
  • Those who have acidic diets – meaning those who: drink sodas and fermented drinks, eat a high protein/low vegetable diet, and/or eat lots of processed or sugary foods

Who may benefit from using it?

  • Those who need to improve digestion of complex carbs (ie – if you feel you digest food slowly – wake up full in the morning or stay uncomfortably full after a big meal)
  • Those who need to support good heart health
  • Those who want to increase nutrient (mineral/vitamin) absorption
  • Those who want support to lose weight and keep it off
  • Those who want a bit of energy boosting
  • Those who need to improve their blood sugar numbers(ie, pre diabetics)
  • Those who want an antioxidant boost

How to source the highest quality product?

Apple Cider VinegarNot all Apple Cider Vinegars are created equal – some are more potent than others. Our recommended brand is Bragg Organic Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar.

BRAGG’s contains the “mother,” which is a viscous dark spidery blob that continues to keep the vinegar potent as it ages.  Other, non-apple-based vinegars do not perform as well as apple cider vinegar.

The Prescription – How and when to use apple cider vinegar.

There are many choices for when and how to use apple cider vinegar, but it all depends on your health goals.

In the morning, upon waking with water:  Taken at this time, the benefits really depend on the person. In my practice, I have seen morning apple cider vinegar help with those with candida, acne, sluggish digestion, a desire to maintain weight loss, and poor immune function. Granted, this was not the only modality they were using to support themselves, but many seemed to feel the vinegar specifically helped. 1-2 tablespoons in an 8 oz glass of water upon waking. Some add cinnamon or a bit of maple syrup to reduce the strong taste. Stop immediately if you notice any burning or stomach discomfort.  You may unknowingly be in the “those whom apple cider vinegar will NOT help” category.

During the day, with a meal:  Taken at this time, supposed benefits are to increase the body’s digestive ability. If you feel your digestion is sluggish generally or are planning to eat a large meal, 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in a 4 oz glass of water with or right before a meal may help. Energy may improve as well as feeling satiety earlier (which is why people say it helps with weight loss – fewer cravings).

 At night, before going to bed:  Taken at this time – supposed benefits are largely to regulate and normalize sugar levels in the blood. 2 tablespoons in an 8 oz glass of water an hour before bed have shown through studies to support lower glucose and average glucose numbers. So, something to consider if you are prediabetic.

Anytime! Use in a salad dressing, in place of another type of vinegar:  There really do seem to be benefits in apple cider vinegar that other vinegars do not provide. Switch from your usual vinegar to apple cider vinegar and see if you notice improved digestion.

A deeper dive into health benefits

Apple cider vinegar has been shown to support overall health by providing these additional health benefits:

  • Lowering the risk of diabetes: Apple cider vinegar has been shown to reduce blood glucose to healthier levels, and the mechanisms under consideration are its effect on digestion (faster digestion less breakdown of carbohydrates) and its effect on how quickly sugars are released into the blood (it prevents spikes and allows for more even release).
  • Supporting heart health: Studies show that apple cider vinegar positively affects levels of lipids (fats), sugars, and arterial plaque in the blood.
  • Killing unwanted bacteria: Studies show that apple cider vinegar kills unwanted bacteria and can provide relief from:  sinus congestion (it’s recommended to put 1 teaspoon with water in a neti pot and use), sore throat (gargle with 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in 4 oz of water) , and candida overgrowth (morning apple cider vinegar in water as recommended above).


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