Pros and cons of drinking apple cider vinegar

Taking it undiluted or overconsumption can be dangerous 


Apple cider vinegar has been the health buzzword for a while now. In fact, it was believed to be a cure for several health ills by the father of modern medicine, the Greek physician Hippocrates. Today, it is touted to lead to weight loss, control blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, aid an upset stomach and even cure hiccups. While some of the health benefits are supported by scientific evidence, others are not. Before taking this much-talked-about remedy it is advisable to know about its adverse side effects.

This pungent vinegar is a common ingredient in salad dressings and stir-fry sauces.It is prepared by a two-step fermentation process. Apple juice undergoes the first stage of fermentation through the addition of bacterial cultures and yeast. These microorganisms convert the sugar-rich juice into alcohol. In the second stage, a different set of bacteria called ‘acetobacter’ is introduced. These change the alcohol into acetic acid. It is this acid that gives the vinegar its strong sour taste.

Health benefits

Apple cider vinegar should be consumed by diluting one to two tablespoons of vinegar with eight ounces (16 tablespoons) of water. Taken this way it has some health benefits.

Helps control blood sugar: According to an Arizona State University study, drinking it before eating leads to lower post-meal blood glucose levels. Apparently, the acetic acid in the vinegar blocks enzymes that break down starches for digestion from being absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result the blood sugar does not spike after a meal and then drop. Also, consuming the vinegar with a carbohydrate-rich meal may improve insulin sensitivity.

Leads to weight loss: In 2009, scientists studied the effects of intake of apple cider vinegar on body weight and abdominal fat in 175 obese Japanese subjects. It showed that continuous vinegar intake reduces body weight, BMI (body mass index) and body fat mass. Acetic acid, its main component, is believed to help fat breakdown.

Apple cider vinegar promotes weight loss in other ways too. Acetic acid is a natural appetite suppressant. Also, a Swedish study found that when individuals consumed the vinegar with a meal, they reported feeling a higher level of satiety. Moreover, since its consumption leads to more evenly maintained blood sugar levels, cravings for sugar and unhealthy foods are minimized.

Other claimed benefits

  • It lowers cholesterol
  • Aids an upset stomach by reducing stomach cramps and diarrhea
  • Cures hiccups
  • Clears a stuffy nose
  • Reduces acne
  • Whitens teeth
  • Curbs bad breath
  • Helps bruises fade

Dangers of consumption

Damage to esophagus and tooth enamel: According to a 2006 study featured in the journal Medscape General Medicine, drinking apple cider vinegar can cause damage to the lining of your esophagus as well as your tooth enamel. It can burn the throat and sensitive gum tissue. The vinegar is very acidic so the study recommends never drinking the liquid undiluted.

Risk of gastroparesis: A common complication of diabetes, gastroparesis reduces the rate the stomach is emptied. Consuming apple cider vinegar may cause this condition as it raises the level of stomach juices which puts excessive strain on the gastrointestinal system.

Lowers potassium levels: Another potential risk of over-consumption of apple cider vinegar is a reduction in potassium levels. Potassium is an electrolyte that assists in proper functioning of the organs.

Loss of bone density: It has been reported that long term use of apple cider vinegar has resulted in loss of bone density. The acidity of the vinegar causes the bones to soften or wear away. This could be particularly worrisome if you suffer from osteoporosis.

Drug interaction: Apple cider vinegar can interact with drugs meant for diabetes and heart disease and also with diuretics and laxatives.

Loss of minerals: Because of its detoxification affects, if taken in excessive quantities, apple cider vinegar can flush out essential minerals from your body along with toxins.

While regular consumption of apple cider vinegar can have some health benefits, the side effects associated with excessive consumption are not to be ignored either. Weigh the pros and cons carefully before including this vinegar in your diet, and always start with a small dose to observe its effects.


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