Should you be drinking apple cider vinegar?
You’ve likely heard someone swear by the benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar (ACV). But is there a good reason to consume it?
“There are several health claims associated with ACV,” says Tara Allen, registered dietitian at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazelcrest, Ill. “Unfortunately, there are not many random-controlled studies that show proven results. A few small, scientific studies indicate the possible benefits of ACV include use as a food preservative and disinfectant, lowering blood sugars after meals, improving insulin sensitivity, increasing satiety and lowering cholesterol and triglycerides.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a rapid increase in the percentage of Americans with diabetes in the past several decades. Allen says that as these rates continue to rise, many individuals are taking several prescription medications to manage their illness. Often, those suffering are looking for natural alternatives such as ACV as way to improve their health.
What exactly is ACV?
To produce ACV, apples or apple cider is combined with yeast. The yeast ferments the apples and converts them to alcohol. Alcohol is combined with bacteria, leading to the production of acetic acid, the critical component of ACV. Some organic brands of ACV contain “mother”, a milky looking substance, which may contain protein, enzymes and gut friendly bacteria.
Allen explains that acetic acid is the critical component of apple cider vinegar. It is produced when yeast and sugar from apples form an alcohol, and the alcohol is mixed with bacteria. Acetic acid is what makes the substance a vinegar.
Should you be drinking it?
“As with anything in life, moderation is key,” Allen says. She explains that drinking too much ACV or not diluting ACV can potentially lead to irritation of the lining of esophagus, tooth enamel erosion, bone density loss and loss of minerals such as potassium.
For those interested in incorporating ACV into their diet, Allen recommends diluting one teaspoon to one tablespoon of ACV in a glass of water up to three times a day. Other ways to incorporate ACV into the diet include using it as a salad dressing, adding it to food or mixing it with a sweet drink.
Allen encourages individuals speak with their physician and pharmacist before including ACV in their diet or initiating any new regimen involving alternative medicines or supplements.
And, like so many other health trends, more research needs to be conducted to draw conclusions on the benefits and safety of ACV.
About the Author
Kendall Krawczyk is a public affairs intern at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Ill. She is a senior obtaining a bachelor’s degree in health communication and public relations at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the secretary of Communication Leader’s on her campus, in which she acts as an ambassador for the department of communication. She spent the last semester in Florence, Italy. In her free time, she enjoys working out, drinking coffee and spending time with her family.