Integrating natural supplements like apple cider vinegar into your daily routine is a simple and effective way to boost overall wellness. Apple cider vinegar has been used medicinally for centuries and continues to be one of the leading natural health supplements used today. When taken properly, it boasts a range of health benefits, from controlling blood sugar, to boosting your immune system, and so much more.
What is apple cider vinegar?
As the name suggests, it’s simply a vinegar made from apples. More specifically, it’s created at the stage after apple cider turns into hard cider using a fermentation process that’s similar to that used for making wine. When bacteria and yeast are combined, they produce acetic acid. Along with being responsible for some of the health benefits, this acid is commonly used as a food preservative.
WebMD explains that one of the most important and unique properties of apple cider vinegar is the “mother” – the visible cloud of yeast and bacteria which acts as a probiotic.
Health benefits of apple cider vinegar
While apple cider vinegar might not be an instant miracle, there are numerous areas in your life that could possibly benefit from proper daily use.
Even if you’re not accustomed to this home remedy, you may have heard about some of the numerous and diverse benefits apple cider vinegar has to offer. These include:
- Soothing a sore throat: There are several suggested remedies that can be used to alleviate a sore throat. Mix 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and 2 tablespoons of honey in a large mug of warm water. You can also add one to two teaspoons to saltwater, then gargle.
- Remedying various stomach conditions: Known to help with gut health, the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation recommends apple cider vinegar to help alleviate stomach issues like indigestion, gas, and bloating.
- Stopping hiccups: While holding your breath or chugging water are often used to alleviate hiccups, taking a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar is known to be a fast and effective way to make them stop.
- Helping reduce the symptoms of allergies: Boosting the immune system, helping to break up mucus, and supporting lymphatic drainage are some ways daily consumption of apple cider vinegar can help alleviate allergy symptoms.
- Stopping dandruff: One of the causes of dandruff is fungus growth on the scalp. It’s suggested that the acidity in apple cider vinegar makes it harder for this fungus to grow.
- Boosting energy: Looking for an alternative to coffee? Apple cider vinegar is touted as a great way to get a clean energy boost.
- Helping improve hair and skin health: Healthy skin starts from within. Apple cider vinegar contains polyphenolic antioxidants which may play a role in improving the skin’s barrier. Probiotics also improve gut health, which in turn can improve the appearance of your complexion. As for your hair, it can help exfoliate dry flakes from your scalp, remove residue like product buildup, and boost shine.
- Helping control blood glucose level: Studies show that apple cider vinegar can moderately lower blood glucose levels. While beneficial to most, those with diabetes should still consult with a doctor before including it in their treatment plan.
How to take it
While there are no official guidelines for consumption, Healthline states that most people like to take one to three teaspoons (or one tablespoon) daily and adjust the dose based on how their body reacts. Due to the acidity, it’s highly recommended to dilute apple cider vinegar in water. If you’re not accustomed to the taste, or want to make it a little sweeter, you can even add natural sweeteners like organic honey, maple syrup, or stevia.
The time of day at which you consume it is also entirely up to you. It can be taken on an empty stomach in the morning, or even after a meal to aid in digestion.
While it may be the most common method, drinking it isn’t the only way to include it in your diet. Apple cider vinegar also makes a great addition to salad dressing. Try switching out the vinegar you usually use for this healthy and tasty alternative.
Possible side effects
Along with the many benefits of apple cider vinegar come some possible side effects. While some are can be remedied, others may need some consideration depending on your personal health situation.
One of the most common side effects that can happen over time is the erosion of tooth enamel. Luckily, this can be easily avoided by drinking it with a reusable straw like those made from stainless steel or BPA-free plastic. As an extra protective step, it’s also recommended to rinse your mouth out with water once you’ve finished drinking it to ensure there’s no acidic residue left on your teeth.
Due to its acidity, not everyone’s stomach can tolerate apple cider vinegar. Consider any health conditions that may become aggravated such as acid reflux, ulcerative colitis, or any other digestive issues.
Contrary to some home remedy suggestions for skin conditions such as acne, or for soothing stings, it’s not advisable to apply apple cider vinegar topically. It can cause irritation, and in some more severe cases, even burns.
One of the most important things to consider when taking apple cider vinegar is the possible interaction with medication. If you do regularly take any drugs, be sure to research these possible interactions or consult with your doctor before adding apple cider vinegar into your daily health regimen. For example, it has been reported that apple cider vinegar can lower potassium levels. Harvard Medical School explains that this is important to note for anyone taking medications that can already lower potassium, such as those used to treat high blood pressure. While it can help control blood sugar levels, apple cider vinegar can also have an effect on insulin levels. People with diabetes should speak to their doctor before adding it to their diet.
If you don't already have a bottle of apple cider vinegar at home, it’s a great time to consider adding it to your shopping list. Apple cider vinegar is easy to find at health food stores and most standard grocery stores. For maximum health benefits, look for raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the mother, and without any artificial additives. Stir it into your water and start enjoying the benefits. Cheers!
Article updated January 15, 2021.