Apple cider vinegar seems to be everywhere these days. And for good reason! “ACV” (as it’s commonly called) is a health tonic that’s been used for thousands of years, not to mention an environmentally-friendly cleaning product, and it even has some beauty benefits too.
Let’s dig deeper and learn more about how you should be using ACV, and whether it can support your weight loss and intermittent fasting efforts. Plus… recipes to make it taste better!
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is made by fermenting apple juice into cider, and then fermenting that cider into vinegar. During the fermentation process, sugar from the apples is broken down into acetic acid, which is responsible for so many of the health benefits that are associated with apple cider vinegar.
Don’t be afraid of this odd-looking substance floating in your bottle of ACV. That’s a combination of bacteria and yeast that contains a whole lot of probiotics! The mother, as it’s called, is created during the fermentation process. When you consume ACV, you might get some sediment from the mother, but don’t worry; it’s non-toxic and totally drinkable.
So why should you be drinking this stuff?
7 Health Benefits of Using Apple Cider Vinegar
1. Help balance blood sugar (bye bye cravings!)
Drinking apple cider vinegar can help reduce blood sugar and insulin spikes after a meal, especially if you take it before eating carbohydrates . One study found that drinking a mix of 4 teaspoons of ACV with 8 teaspoons of water before a meal reduced blood sugar in people who were insulin resistant and healthy alike .
Exactly how ACV lessens the impact of carbs is still a bit of a mystery. Scientists do know that acetic acid slows down our body’s natural process for breaking down sugar and starch. Not only does this help keep blood sugar stable, but it can also be effective at reducing cravings. Sweet!
2. Improve gut health and soothe your tummy
It’s commonly assumed that because apple cider vinegar is fermented, it’s considered to be a probiotic. This isn’t entirely accurate. ACV is made from fermented apples, which contain pectin. Pectin is a natural prebiotic carbohydrate that promotes healthy digestion and encourages the growth of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
ACV can help your stomach in other ways too. If you suffer from any digestive distress, one of the reasons could be low stomach acid. Drinking a little ACV before a meal will make your stomach more acidic, which can help alleviate symptoms of digestive distress, like heartburn.
3. Support weight loss
The reason why ACV seems to help some people with weight loss is because of its acetic acid. In numerous studies, this acid has been shown to reduce the storage of fat in the body, actually burn fat, and even suppress appetite.
One study found that acetic acid can increase the expression of genes that were responsible for belly fat storage and liver fat. In other words, those genes were working harder and faster to get rid of that fat .
A different study found that a high fat diet, supplemented with acetic acid, is able to reduce the accumulation of fat build up .
And a third study suggests that including acetate (a salt formed with acetic acid) in a diet can affect the brain in a way that suppresses appetite and leads to lower food intake .
With all of that said, these studies were done on rats, not people, and unfortunately won’t give each individual the same effect.
If you want to give it a try, the recommended use for weight loss is to drink 1-2 tbsp of ACV per day, preferably before meals. You don’t have to drink it all at once, you can spread it throughout your day. Also, you can absolutely dilute it in water (recommended), or any of the recipes we’ve included below.
4. Enhance intermittent fasting benefits
Do you follow an intermittent fasting schedule? If so, ACV could help you switch on your fat-burning mode more quickly. We mentioned above that ACV helps to keep your insulin level low, and this enables you body to move into ketosis sooner.
ACV also has the ability to boost ketosis. If you practice intermittent fasting or even the Keto diet, you know that entering ketosis (the state when your body uses fat for fuel) is the goal. Studies show that if you add ACV to your diet after you’ve entered ketosis, the ACV can help your cells produce more energy [6,7]. What that means for you is increased energy and mental clarity!
Remember that ACV also has the ability to help suppress hunger, and what better way to make sure you stay fasted longer instead of giving in to food cravings?
5.Reduce candida and bacterial overgrowth
ACV has antimicrobial properties that extend beyond just helping your gut bacteria. If you struggle with candida or yeast overgrowth, including athlete’s foot or similar fungal issues, ACV can help . You’ll want to drink a tonic of water with 1 tbsp ACV for internal issues, while a soak of 1 part water/1 part ACV can be effective for athlete’s foot or fungus.
Next time you have a sore throat, you might want to try gargling with ACV or sipping it. ACV’s antibacterial qualities can help with that as well.
6. Improve skin and hair
Apple cider vinegar is a popular natural remedy for reducing breakouts. Due to its antibacterial properties, ACV can help fight acne-causing bacteria. Just please be careful not to apply pure ACV directly to your face. Try making a toner that’s 1 part ACV and 2 parts water. If your skin is very sensitive, stick to 1 part ACV with 3 parts water.
Even if you don’t suffer from acne, using this ACV dilution as a toner can help balance the natural pH levels of anyone’s skin. Be careful not to get it in your eyes!
ACV is also great to clarify the hair from any product or chemical buildup, and it can increase your hair’s shine. Mix up a cup of water with with 2 tbsp ACV and rinse your hair with it at the end of your shower. If you have dry hair, you’ll probably want to wash it out with fresh water pretty quickly. If you have oily hair, you can leave the ACV solution in for a couple minutes.
7. Support heart health
ACV’s acetic acid seems to have a positive effect on keeping cholesterol levels healthy. When rats were given a high-cholesterol diet, one study found that the rats who were also give acetic acid had significantly ower cholesterol and triglyceride levels .
Other studies indicate that acetic acid can help lower blood pressure, while one human-based study from Harvard concluded that women who regularly ate a salad dressing made of olive oil and ACV had a decreased risk for heart disease .
What kind of apple cider vinegar is best?
There are a few different types of apple cider vinegar. Luckily, the differences are very easy to spot.
This kind of apple cider vinegar is easy to spot because of its clear, amber appearance.
When ACV isn’t filtered, it’s a darker amber color with a cloudy consistency. This difference in appearance is due to the unfiltered ACV containing something called the “mother,” which is a combination of bacteria and yeast.
This is when the ACV is treated with low heat in order to kill any disease-causing bacteria and extend the shelf life. When ACV is pasteurized, that usually means it’s also filtered.
When apple cider vinegar isn’t pasteurized, the liquid looks more cloudy and opaque. It’s not unusual for unpasteurized ACV to contain sediment, since it also tends to be unfiltered and still contains the mother. Unpasteurized ACV is the kind you want if you’d like to grow your own, or if you’re looking for a less processed option.
It’s commonly believed that the unpasteurized, unfiltered version of ACV is responsible for the most health benefits. If you’re interested in using ACV for cooking, there doesn’t seem to be any difference between these options.
Apple Cider Vinegar Recipes
Drinking apple cider vinegar straight like a shot is NOT recommended This can damage your tooth enamel, esophagus, and stomach. The simplest recommended way to consume ACV is to mix it with water. Even if you do this, always be sure to rinse your mouth with water afterwards, to protect your tooth enamel.
For people who want to spice things up a little, there are other ways to get ACV into your diet, too. Here are two of our favorite ways.
Turmeric, Apple Cider Vinegar, and Sencha Detox Tea
The recipe for this tasty detox tea can be found right here! This wonderful tea is a great morning boost and contains caffeine to help you start your day. Drink it for long-term effects that include help with weight loss and wellness.
Raw Apple Cider Vinaigrette
Salad dressing is a great, easy way to get ACV into your diet. Try this recipe for a smooth, tangy dressing.
- 1/4 cup raw apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1-2 tablespoons raw honey, as desired
- salt and pepper, to taste
Is Apple Cider Vinegar Right For Me?
Talk to your doctor about adding ACV to your diet, especially if you have any pre-existing conditions or take medication, including insulin or diuretics. Apple cider vinegar can have wonderful health benefits, but isn’t right for everyone.
Also, using ACV for fasting isn’t for everyone. Because of its acidic nature, ACV can be a little harsh on sensitive stomachs.
If you decide that ACV is right for you, have fun experimenting with the different ways to add it to your life. Whether you try drinking an ACV tonic instead of popping an antacid, or take some into the shower with you, you just might join the many people who are discovering that they can’t live without their ACV.