The word “vinegar” means “sour wine” in French. And while it might not earn its place at a Parisian dinner table, health advocates highly recommend it. Dr. Axe even goes so far as to refer to it as a superfood.
It’s full of probiotics and enzymes, and it’s said to improve a myriad of health issues. And from cardiovascular health, weight loss efforts, pH levels, fungal infections, and hair health, this humble beverage has got you covered.
But is it right for you? And should you be careful with this “superfood”?
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
All vinegars are made by fermenting carbohydrates like grapes, dates, beets, potatoes, coconut, molasses, apples, and grains. When it comes to apple cider vinegar, yeast ferments the apple sugar into alcohol.
Then, bacteria is added to the alcohol, which is then converted into acetic acid.
Acetic acid is a key component in apple cider vinegar. This active ingredient kills off bacteria and prevents bad bacteria from getting out of control. What’s more, it supports the growth of good bacteria.
Other bioactive properties give apple cider vinegar its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, and along with its acetic acid and polyphenolic properties, it’s said to help combat disease.
How Does Apple Cider Vinegar Support Health?
As we said above, you can consume apple cider vinegar to combat health problems and bring balance to your body.
Here are 5 benefits attributed to this “sour wine”.
Relief for Type 2 Diabetes
Supports Weight Loss Efforts
The journal, Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, published a 2009 study which revealed that people who consumed acetic acid (the active ingredient in apple cider vinegar) over a 12-week timespan, lost abdominal fat, decreased their waist circumference, and their triglycerides levels – a bad cholesterol that we shouldn’t have too much of.
Regulates pH Levels
Apple cider vinegar helps to regulate the body’s internal pH levels and to maintain optimal alkaline levels. Without this balance, acid levels can elevate, and low pH levels can leave you feeling lethargic and more vulnerable to infection.
The liver can get a fresh detox with the help of apple cider vinegar, which can also stimulate your cardiovascular circulation by lowering your blood pressure thanks to the polyphenols present.
This humble liquid can fight against candida and increase beneficial probiotics throughout the body.
Why Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar Regularly Can Be Dangerous
While studies show that apple cider vinegar can help certain conditions, it’s not a one-size-fits-all natural remedy. Here are some of the risks associated with this vinegar:
Can Cause Type 1 Diabetes Condition
Above, we mentioned how apple cider vinegar can improve insulin sensitivity. It does this by keeping your stomach from emptying as quickly as it normally does.
This prevents your blood sugar levels from spiking, but what it also does is lead to gastroparesis – a condition common to Type 1 diabetes, where nerve function is interrupted and food sits in the stomach for too long, leading to bloating and heartburn.
Can Thin Blood
If you’ve taken blood thinners or have a history of blood clotting difficulties, avoid drinking apple cider vinegar. It can lead to blood thinning.
Can Lead to Hypokalemia, or Low Potassium Levels
One big risk of drinking too much apple cider vinegar is a decrease in your potassium levels.
Why is this dangerous? Without even potassium, you can experience heart arrhythmias, weak muscles and muscle deterioration. Constipation, fatigue and paralysis are also symptoms of potassium deficiencies.
Can Cause Nausea
When you drink apple cider vinegar, you brain releases certain chemicals. This can lead to feeling nauseous and having headaches.
Ascorbates Digestive Issues
Because of the caustic, acidic nature of apple cider vinegar, it can irritate a sensitive stomach. So, if you have a delicate digestive system, or have a history of ulcers, it’s best to avoid it.
Causes Dental Erosion
One of the benefits attributed to apple cider vinegar is that it can remove stains from teeth. But if you’re not careful, it can actually remove tooth enamel. This is very detrimental because your enamel protects the bones of your teeth. Without enamel, you’re at a greater risk for cavities and tooth decay.
Injures mucus membrane
Mucus membranes coat the throat, mouth and food pipe. If you don’t dilute apple cider vinegar properly, the acidic nature can cut through the mucus membranes. This can burn your throat, cause throat pain and make it difficult to swallow, according to the Kristi Monson, Pharm. D.
Interferes with Medications
If you’re taking diabetes medication or diuretic drugs, it’s best to avoid apple cider vinegar. By consuming it, along with these other medications, you can put too much pressure on your kidneys, and also lower your blood sugar and potassium levels too much.
Flushes Body of Important Vitamins and Minerals
We’ve seen that apple cider vinegar can lead to a potassium deficiency. But this isn’t the only nutrient that it robs from our bodies. Because it has powerful detox properties, it can get a little bit carried away and flush other important and necessary nutrients from our body.
It’s important to consult with your primary care provider to be sure you’re not deficient in any vitamins and minerals if you’re drinking apple cider vinegar.
Not only can it deplete your body of important nutrients, but it doesn’t really offer any in return. Dr. Mercola warns that it doesn’t have measurable amounts of vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, beta-carotene, or folate.
What’s more, as the USDA reminds us, it doesn’t have amino acids or lycopene.
You might be curious to try this “superfood” but maybe this sour wine isn’t worth all the hype. Before you introduce it to your diet, check with your primary care physician to understand if it’s a good idea for you and your health concerns.