5 Health Benefits (& Potential Side Effects) Of Apple Cider Vinegar
Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere (or at least not paying attention to social media!), you’ve definitely heard at least a few of the health claims regarding apple cider vinegar. The ACV craze has garnered a lot of attention, especially on social media, for its proposed health benefits – everything from weight loss to skin improvements. While much of the information circulating those “Get your apple cider here!” ad pages is designed to get you to purchase the product, there is some truth to the health claims being made about ACV. But what exactly are the health benefits of apple cider vinegar? And do those benefits outweigh the potential side effects?
What are the health benefits of apple cider vinegar?
There are several health benefits that come with consuming apple cider vinegar, all of which are completely backed by science.
1. Bacteria-killing power
Vinegar has been used in medicine for thousands of years. Hippocrates, who is considered to be the father of modern medicine, used the substance over 2,000 years ago to help clean wounds. Modern research has shown that vinegar can help the body kill off bacteria as well as inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria such as E. coli.
2. Blood sugar management
Diabetes and high blood sugar are both health issues that affect a ton of people. When examining the use of apple cider vinegar to help manage these conditions, research has found that it can improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin – the hormone that prevents sugar building up to dangerously high levels in the blood. Other research has found that apple cider vinegar can even reduce blood sugar levels in someone with diabetes while they sleep. Finally, apple cider vinegar has the ability to improve how well insulin works following meals.
3. Help to shed unwanted pounds
While a good diet and exercise is the best way to achieve a healthy weight, apple cider vinegar can be a helpful addition to a weight loss journey. One particular study looked at apple cider vinegar for weight loss efforts and found that people who took it with meals felt fuller faster and ate less calories throughout the rest of the day. ACV can also help to reduce belly fat, which is the worst kind of fat health-wise.
4. Heart health benefits
Although much of the research surrounding heart health and apple cider vinegar is based on animals, the studies that have been done show promising results. Apple cider vinegar can help to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, both of which are risk factors tied to heart disease.
5. Skin health benefits
Many people use apple cider vinegar to combat dry skin and eczema because of the way it can help restore the skin barrier to its natural pH levels. That being said, some other research suggests that soaking in apple cider vinegar can actually cause further irritation to the skin, so it’s important to speak to your doctor or dermatologist prior to trying this for your skin health.
Are there any potential side effects of apple cider vinegar?
Even with the many health benefits, apple cider vinegar may not be right for everyone. There are several potential side effects to be aware of, including:
Delayed stomach emptying
Apple cider vinegar prevents food from leaving the stomach too quickly. While this could benefit some, it could harm others, especially those with a condition known as gastroparesis.
Bad digestive side effects
Some people may experience an increase in indigestion and other stomach discomfort such as nausea when taking apple cider vinegar.
Bone loss and low potassium
Potassium is an electrolyte that the body needs for a variety of functions. Although the research on bone loss and potassium in regard to apple cider intake is scarce, one case report has found that taking large doses of ACV could lead to low potassium and bone loss. It could even increase the risk of developing osteoporosis if bone loss is severe enough.
Some research has investigated the effect that consuming apple cider vinegar has on the teeth, and some pretty alarming results have appeared. In one particular study, wisdom teeth were placed in ACV and within four hours, 1–20% of the minerals on the teeth were eroded away. A case report also looked at a young woman taking apple cider vinegar for weight loss and found that her severe dental decay was directly caused by the substance.
Skin and throat burns
Although there is no information stating that simply drinking apple cider vinegar will cause a throat burn, one case report found that a woman who took apple cider vinegar tablets experienced burns to her esophagus when a tablet got stuck in her throat. The strong acidity of the substance can also cause burns to the skin if it’s being used to help clean wounds.
Taking too much
Taking too much apple cider vinegar can lead to the aforementioned side effects – or worse, if you’re on certain medications that can interact negatively with the substance. For example, taking apple cider vinegar while on some medications that lower blood sugar or potassium can lead to dangerously low blood sugar and potassium levels.
How to consume apple cider vinegar
For most people, taking apple cider vinegar is safe if it is done so correctly (though ACV should be avoided altogether if you have gastroparesis). The best way to take apple cider vinegar is by:
- Limiting yourself to no more than 2 tablespoons per day
- Diluting it with water and drinking it through a straw to avoid contact with your teeth
- Rinsing your mouth out after you take it
You should also consider adding ACV into other foods while cooking so you can reap the benefits without having to drink it directly. When starting out with apple cider vinegar, start low and increase your dosage gradually so you can see how your body responds. Other consumption options include apple cider vinegar gummies and tablets. Whatever way you choose to consume ACV, knowing the risks and speaking to your doctor beforehand can help you avoid any harmful side effects.