Colorado Springs resident and mom of three Lindsay Bowman starts her day like many of us: a freshly brewed cup of coffee or tea, a nutritious breakfast with her family, the busyness of getting everyone ready for their day, and a little apple cider vinegar for all.
What? Apple cider vinegar?
"Yep," says Bowman, "We add between one teaspoon and one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to eight ounces of room temperature or warm water and drink it in the morning to get our digestive systems going. If someone has a stomachache, heartburn, or bad allergies, we add a second or third dose. Our family is generally very healthy, and I feel that taking apple cider vinegar regularly has contributed to this."
After suffering with stomach issues for years, Bowman decided to add apple cider vinegar (ACV) to her daily routine. "I had read about its great health-inducing properties," she says, "and after researching further, I found that it may help with many types of stomach issues. I read that the pectin in it provides a coating to line the colon, the mother [the cloudy yeast and bacteria you can see in the bottle] contains microbiome boosters, and the acids in it work wonderfully for heartburn/acid reflux."
From Apples to Vinegar
ACV is garnering attention far and wide for its touted health benefits, which range from liver cleansing to dissolving kidney stones. But what, exactly, is ACV?
Nicole Avena, Ph.D., assistant professor of neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and visiting professor of health psychology at Princeton University, says, "Apple cider vinegar is made through a fermentation process where the sugar from apples is converted to alcohol through yeast and then that alcohol is converted to acetic acid by bacteria."
Turns out, acetic acid is an important component in ACV as is the mother. "Though research is limited," says Avena, "acetic acid may increase calcium retention and lower risk of developing cardiovascular complications, such as heart disease. Without the mother, the vinegar would not exist. The mother is not dangerous to drink in small amounts, and if you are looking for the possible benefits of a probiotic, you may be interested in drinking it. Besides antimicrobial properties, cardiovascular regulation properties, blood sugar regulation, and probiotic properties, ACV may be able to help individuals in weight management."
How Do We Use ACV?
isn’t something you just take a big swig of and call it good. Because it’s acidic, you’ll want to dilute it. "Like any acid," says Avena, "ACV can cause damage if not properly diluted. There have been cases of erosion of the esophagus and other similar injury from people drinking undiluted vinegar, but these are isolated events and often occur when an individual has been drinking large amounts of vinegar for long periods of time. It is also a good idea to flush your mouth with water after drinking an ACV dilution as allowing acid of any kind to remain on your teeth is never a good idea. Keep ACV away from your eyes as well as it can cause inflammation and burning."
There are many ways to ingest ACV, says Avena. "It can be used as a dressing or seasoning in foods, it can be drunk in a diluted form, or it can be taken as a capsule. Most grocery stores you go to will have some sort of ACV supplement in stock if this is your preferred method of taking it."
One of the easiest ways to begin incorporating ACV into your routine is to add it to your foods. "Many people like the taste of vinegar," says Avena, "and use it to season their food anyway, but it may be an unpleasant flavor for others. Once you are comfortable with the taste of ACV, you can incorporate it into your diet in many different ways!"
As with any trending product, there are studies both supporting its benefits and others casting doubt on it. It’s up to us, the consumer, to do our due diligence when researching the potential benefits and proper usage of ACV.