• Shannon Western

Does Apple Cider Vinegar Work?

Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, is a social media favourite. The claims around ACV are immense: it can make you lose weight, lower blood sugar, fight infections, improve digestion, and the ever-favourite, “detox your body”. What an impressive product you can find next to good ol’ vegetable oils in the supermarket!

apple cider vinegar weight loss

So let’s break down some of these common ACV claims:


Does apple cider vinegar make you lose weight?

The “Apple Cider Vinegar Diet” has been a big trend the past couple of years, with people drinking tablespoons before or after eating, or by taking pricy supplements.

There was a study (1) that’s often quoted by a pro-ACV side, where people lost a tiny amount of weight, as in, what’s natural to fluctuate over a few days due to water weight etc. And as we know with unsustainable ways of trying to change your body, your body will fight back and regain the lost weight quickly. Also, weight loss is not necessary to be a healthy functioning human being.


Does apple cider vinegar improve immunity?

Currently, there is no research looking into ACV and its role in immune function. But, of course, that doesn’t stop social media accounts dedicated to the claims about how it prevents colds, flus, and everything in between. ACV does have anecdotal evidence for helping people recover from colds and flus, however it’s more likely to be due to the cold running it’s course.


ACV as a cure or prevention for COVID-19 has also (of course) made its way around the internet. Please remember to follow government guidelines to reduce the risk and spread of COVID-19, including social distancing and washing hands often.


Does apple cider vinegar cure Type 2 Diabetes?

This claim is supported by very few small studies, typically in people not using insulin. It’s thought that ACV reduces starch absorption (2) However, speak to your GP or a diabetes dietitian before introducing ACV if you are pre-diabetic or diabetic.


Does apple cider vinegar improve digestion?

I guess this is the big one- I totally get people who are struggling with gut health seeking out this so-called miracle worker. The unfiltered version of ACV, which contains a substance called “The Mother” has claims to be a probiotic and gut health-promoting machine. However, there is no scientific evidence that ACV improves digestion, and actually can trigger heartburn in some.


“The Mother” also isn’t a huge dose of gut-friendly bacteria (aka probiotics) like people claim, in fact it’s a pretty small amount and you would get much higher intakes from other foods especially fermented dairy products. Plus, dairy doesn’t give you heartburn, and has actual science-backed evidence that it supports health! Plus my fellow heartburn sufferers know that a big glass of milk is the one for heartburn- Always welcome...


ACV is also claimed to help digestion because it increases the acidity of the stomach. Makes sense, right? Not so much. The stomach is already more acidic than ACV, so that claim doesn’t stack up.


Is apple cider vinegar good for detox?

“Detoxing” isn’t a process you need specific foods for. Your body is your detox system: You have a liver, kidneys, skin, and lungs for that very reason. Please note, I’m referring to detox in the sense of diet culture - and not medical detoxing, which is a different thing + used in a hospital setting. Nonetheless, ACV is very much not involved in this process either.


What are the dangers of apple cider vinegar?

1.Tooth decay. Isn’t it interesting that a lot of fad diets or wellness trends are harmful to teeth? The British Dentist Association has even put out a warning on all fad diets, and spoken about the need to not use liquids like ACV, lemon juice/lemon juice as recommended by social media.


2. ACV can lower potassium levels, which is a risk for people taking anti-hypertensive medication (which also debunks the claim that ACV lowers blood pressure!)


3. ACV promoters like recommending the expensive brands, and often claim high price tag supplements are superior to the drink. ACV has very few benefits (apart from taste/experience, if you aren’t a fellow heartburn sufferer, if you know, you KNOW) and doesn’t deserve for your money to be spent on it, especially not as a cure for conditions or to try to change your body. It’s also not surprising that wellness culture prescribes raw, organic, unfiltered ACV as opposed to supermarket own brand cider vinegars….. How bizarre, wellness culture encourages people to spend more money on the. same. product.

apple cider vinegar weight loss

→ And finally, what if you like the taste of ACV?

Great! Feel free to use in salad dressings or in marinades. If you believe claims online (you’re not alone! And you have my compassion, I totally get seeking out wellness culture information and “health tips”) and have ACV sitting in your cupboard, you can also make DIY household cleaners too. Some claim it’s great for cleaning your hair, but I’ve tried that and honestly, I’ll be sticking to Aussie.



References:


1. Tomoo, K., Kishi, M., Fushimi, T., Shinobu, U., Taka, K. (2014). Vinegar intake reduces body weight, body fat mass, and serum triglycerides in ob**e Japanese subjects. Bioscience 73:8, 1837-43.

2. Salbe, A., Johnstone, C., Buyukbese, M., Tsktouras, S., Harman, M. (2009) Vinegar lacks anti-glycemic action on enteral carbohydrate absorption in human subjects. Nutr Res 29(12) 84609.