An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Sure… especially if you juice it, ferment it, and drink it. Wait; what???
We’re talking about organic apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is more than what it appears. It’s actually one of the best, but least known, superfoods around. While kale, quinoa, acai and bone-broth grab all the headlines, that humble little bottle of apple cider vinegar sitting in your pantry is a real superfood. Health and beauty experts have long touted its benefits, but most people still only reach for it for the occasional salad dressing. If that’s you, you’re missing out! That inexpensive bottle of apple cider vinegar (also known as ACV) is packing a load of impressive benefits.
Still can’t believe that plain little bottle of apple cider vinegar is a superstar? Let’s take a closer look.
Apple cider vinegar is a whole, natural food… or it should be. Check the label. There should be nothing else but juice from apples, fermented and diluted. While all ACV is healthy, raw unpasteurized versions have even more enzymes and beneficial bacteria.
What’s so great about apple cider vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar aids digestion.
When we get hungry or even think about food, our stomach begins secreting hydrochloric acid. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) plays a vital role in breaking down food and digesting it. Unfortunately, many things can reduce those levels. A poor diet, stress, drinking alcohol and other unhealthy habits can all lower our hydrochloric acid levels. If our hydrochloric acid levels are low, food is not properly digested. Nutrients are lost, and we feel bloated and heavy. Counter-intuitively, acid reflux or heartburn is also caused by low levels of stomach acid. I want to repeat this: acid reflux is caused by LOW stomach acid, NOT high. This is very important, as over-the-counter and prescription antacids are aimed at “reducing stomach acid” which exactly what you don’t want!!
Apple cider vinegar has an active component called acetic acid, a potent antimicrobial agent that helps the body restore its natural stomach acid levels.
Diluted with water and drunk before meals, it improves digestion. If you have digestive problems, try drinking a glass of water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar mixed in. Ulcers and ACV don’t mix well, though, but low HCL levels, common indigestion and heartburn respond well to it.
Apple cider vinegar helps promote a healthy microbiome. What’s a microbiome? That’s the world of beneficial bugs and bacteria that live in our bellies and help us digest food and stay healthy. There’s a whole eco-system going on in there. When that ecology is healthy, benefits abound. Because ACV is an alkalizing tonic, it reduces inflammation and creates a balanced environment. Probiotics – those beneficial live bacteria and yeasts that are commonly found in fermented foods – can only thrive if the environment is right.
Apple cider vinegar can help control blood sugar
Studies have shown that apple cider vinegar can help the body deal with sugar. First, a bit about insulin and blood sugar. When your blood sugar level rises, your pancreas secretes insulin. Insulin stimulates muscle or fat cells to absorb the excess blood sugar, keeping everything in balance. Insulin sensitivity describes how much insulin it takes to achieve that balance. If you are insulin sensitive, it only takes a little insulin. If you are insulin insensitive, though, it takes much more. Insulin insensitivity, or insulin resistance, is a warning sign for diabetes.
A study from the American Diabetes Association showed that drinking an apple-cider vinegar drink helps the body respond to a high sugar/high simple carbohydrate meal. Drinking ACV raised whole-body insulin sensitivity, and reduced fluctuations in both blood sugar and insulin.
Apple cider vinegar helps support your detox program
Apple cider vinegar stimulates circulation and the lymphatic system, helping your body naturally get rid of toxins. ACV contains potassium, which helps thin mucus, where toxins can be trapped. Many cleanse or detox programs incorporate ACV, since it boosts the benefits. But regular consumption of apple cider vinegar lets your body eliminate toxins every day.
Apple cider vinegar boosts the immunity system
Just as stimulating the lymphatic system helps your body eliminate toxins, it also boosts your immunity system. The anti-bacterial properties can help prevent a cold. But if you’re already sick from a cold or allergy, adding ACV to your diet may help! Not only will it make you recover sooner, but it may even help with your stuffy nose! (Remember, it thins mucus.) Plus, gargling with warm-water/ACV mix can help your sore throat.
Apple cider vinegar is good for the skin
Apple cider vinegar works from both inside and outside to help skin stay healthy and glowing. Drinking ACV promotes overall health, and glowing skin is the result. But apple cider vinegar also works great as a toner to apply to your skin. The malic, lactic and acetic acids in ACV are great for exfoliating, which leaves skin smooth and soft.
Apple cider vinegar also helps restore and balance your skin’s pH level. That’s important because it allows the skin’s natural barrier of protective oils and perspiration, known as the acid mantle, to work as it should, minimizing the effects of sun and wind. The acid mantle also shields the skin from bacteria and fungi, preventing acne and other skin blemishes. Many kinds of soap, even mild ones, strip this natural protective layer from the skin, leaving it vulnerable to environmental stressors and toxins.
To use ACV as part of your skin-care routine, just mix equal parts ACV and water, and apply to your skin with a cotton ball. Remember to shake the mixture to keep it diluted. Note: if you are suffering from any inflammatory skin condition, contact your dermatologist before using ACV on your skin.
Apple cider vinegar helps you recover faster
The amino acids in ACV can help flush out the lactic acid that causes fatigue and muscle soreness following a strenuous workout. In addition, its potassium and enzymes provide a bit of energy burst, relieving that tired feeling. The potassium is also good for leg cramps or restless leg syndrome. And, studies even show that it might help lower your blood pressure.
Apple cider vinegar can even help you lose weight
The healthier your gut, the easier it is to lose weight. A probiotic-rich gut allows your body to digest food more efficiently, and boosts your metabolism. A recent study published by Science Magazine demonstrated this effect. Some of the unhealthy gut micro-organisms from obese mice were transferred to normal-weight mice. The normal-weight mice started over-eating, even bingeing. Their microbiome became just like the obese mice. They quickly became obese themselves, and continued compulsively overeating.
In addition, the acetic acid in ACV tends to suppress appetite, and reduce water retention. Even better, some studies suggest that ACV can help reduce cholesterol.
So, move that bottle of apple cider vinegar to the front of your cupboard!
There’s good reason why apple cider vinegar has been used as a healing elixir since 400 BC. Hippocrates, the founder of modern medicine, advocated its use in treating a variety of ills, and it’s been a popular folk remedy since.
Always choose organic apple cider vinegar, since conventional apples are sprayed with pesticides and residues may persist in the vinegar. Raw and unpasteurized ACV is even better, with a rich “mother” full of probiotics.
Dust off that bottle of apple cider vinegar, or better still, pick up a new bottle of organic, raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. That quiet little condiment is a real superhero of the kitchen!