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Apple Cider Vinegar Diet

For thousands of years, the apple cider vinegar diet has been used for healing in folk medicine practices. In fact, there is evidence to support that apple cider vinegar was used in ancient cultures all over the world.

Vinegar, or “sour wine” in Latin, is a great source of acetic acid and vitamins C and B. It has been prescribed for a variety of bodily conditions, ranging from skin eruptions to cancer prevention.

Even though this highly acidic liquid has been around for ages, science still hasn’t provided significant evidence either for, or against, its use. Proponents of apple cider vinegar laud its many health benefits, but critics emphasize potential side-effects.

Here, we discuss the full scope of the apple cider vinegar diet and whether it might be right for you.

What Is the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet?

The apple cider vinegar diet is the process of integrating apple cider vinegar (ACV) into your food or drinks in order to reap its potential health benefits. Some people use ACV mixed with food, such as in a vinaigrette. Others drink ACV in tonics or detox drinks.

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Before we focus on the apple cider vinegar diet, let’s first discuss what apple cider vinegar is. In the simplest terms, ACV is a liquid made from fermented apples.

The process of turning apples into vinegar requires the addition of yeast. This added yeast coverts the sugar naturally found in apples into alcohol. Bacteria is mixed with this alcohol to create a substance called acetic acid. Apple cider vinegar contains roughly 5% acetic acid.

Acetic acid is used to treat bacterial infections. Some studies suggest that the acetic acid content in ACV promotes an array of health benefits. Yet there are also potential side effects. It’s important to learn about the apple cider vinegar diet and consult with your physician before adopting it.

How to Do the Apple Cider Vinegar Diet

Proponents of the apple cider vinegar diet agree that it is best to use organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar containing “mother.” Mother refers to the added good bacteria, enzymes and probiotics. Supplementing good bacteria into the diet has been shown to improve your overall health.

ACV brands with mother will list this on the product labeling. You can often see if your product is mother-containing ACV, because it appears murky rather than clear.

One way to do the apple cider vinegar diet is to incorporate ACV into your foods. There are many ways to add ACV into your diet. Some ideas for accomplishing this include:

  • Use it as a dip
  • Drizzle it on salads
  • Hide a tablespoon in a smoothie
  • Make your own salad dressing by combining it with oil and spices
  • Marinade your foods
  • Mix it into savory soups
  • Spray it onto popcorn

Create Your Own ACV Drink

Another way to approach the apple cider vinegar diet is to create an ACV tonic or drink. Many recipes for ACV tonic exist and you can easily come up with your own favorite recipes. Some ready-made ACV tonics are available in health food stores. Creating an ACV tonic yourself is one way to create a tonic you know you will enjoy drinking.

What you’ll need to build the foundational recipe for all ACV tonics:

  • 1-2 tablespoons of ACV
  • 8 ounces of water

Beyond these two ingredients, you are free to build the perfect ACV drink for you. Some ingredients that pair well with diluted ACV are:

  • Citrus juice, freshly squeezed (lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit)
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup, grade B
  • Cranberry juice
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Turmeric/curcumin
  • Horseradish
  • Spicy peppers

When creating your ACV detox drink, experiment with flavors. ACV pairs well with both sweet and savory ingredients. Another consideration to make is what nutritional or health benefits you’d like to add to your diet. Creating an ACV drink filled with ingredients that provide the nutrition you want and need to put into your body is an excellent way to decide on which recipe you’ll use.

The Many Benefits

There isn’t a lot of scientific substantiation available on the health benefits of the apple cider vinegar diet. Advocates who regularly consume ACV claim they experience many health benefits. Here’s the skinny on how the apple cider vinegar diet might help you.

Appetite Suppression and Weight Loss

In a 2007 study, apple cider vinegar was shown to slow gastric emptying or delay digestion. The benefit of delayed digestion is appetite suppression. Hunger is kept at bay when the stomach is full. As a result, we tend to eat less. Eating less, naturally, leads to weight loss.

In 2009, a Japanese study concluded that ACV promotes weight loss in animals. ACV might also reduce abdominal fat when taken consistently.

Infuses Good Bacteria into Your System

ACV is infused with lots of good bacteria. Vinegar, and the acetic acid in it, is known to kill harmful bacteria in the digestive track. ACV is considered a natural antibacterial substance.

Immune System Support

The human gut is filled with bacteria. When your body’s bad bacteria outnumber your good bacteria, your immune system becomes compromised and you can suffer discomfort or irregular bowel movements. As a fermented product, ACV can help re-establish bacterial order in the digestive track, thus improving immune function.

Skin Treatment

Some ACV advocates tout its use in the treatment of acne, because acne is caused by harmful bacteria. ACV is both ingested and used topically to treat skin conditions. It’s very important to dilute ACV before using. Do not apply pure ACV to your skin as it may burn your skin.

Balancing pH Levels

Although ACV is acidic, it may create an alkaline environment in the digestive tract and balance your pH levels in your body. Scientists are divided on the benefits of alkaline environments and ACV for its ability to balance pH levels.

Regulates Blood Sugar

The most successful scientific results for the apple cider vinegar diet are in relation to insulin regulation. Blood sugar regulation is relevant, in particular, to those who have diabetes or who are diagnosed as pre-diabetic. Everyone, however, should strive to regulate blood sugar levels.

ACV has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and improve insulin’s function. Consult your physician before introducing ACV to your diet.

Improves Heart Health and Blood-Pressure

Heart health is a big topic in modern times. Heart disease routinely tops lists as a leading cause of mortality in western countries.

Harvard researchers found a decreased risk of heart disease in women who consumed ACV on salads. This was only one study, so many claim its findings to be inconclusive.

Also, there is the potential for ACV to lower blood-pressure levels. Regulating blood pressure contributes to the overall health of your heart.

Lowers Cholesterol and Triglycerides

The apple cider vinegar diet might help lower cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Some small studies have demonstrated the beneficial effects of ACV on cholesterol and triglyceride levels, but more research is needed to validate these claims conclusively.

Cancer Protection

ACV may have protective qualities against cancer. Studies have shown ACV to shrink tumors and kill cancerous cells in animals or in lab settings. No studies to date, however, have experimented with the cancer-fighting properties of ACV in humans. We feel the potential for ACV to fight cancerous cells is promising, but more research needs to be done. With the life and death literally in the balance, it would be great to see future research on these possible implications.

Potential Side Effects

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The scientific community has a long way to go in investigating the apple cider vinegar diet sufficiently. We need scientists to conduct more studies that will either confirm or negate many of the health claims of the apple cider vinegar diet.

Indisputably, there are well-known potential side effects associated with the consumption of ACV.

Contraindications for Some Medical Conditions

It’s always advisable to consult with your doctor before starting a new diet. If you have one or more of the following conditions, then it’s absolutely necessary that you speak to your doctor before partaking in the apple cider vinegar diet:

  • Diabetes
  • High-blood pressure (treated with medication)
  • Water gain (treated with diuretics)
  • Potassium deficiency
  • High potassium (treated with medicines to lower potassium levels, such as Lanoxin)

Erosion of Tooth Enamel

ACV is extremely acidic and can erode tooth enamel. The best ways to avoid ACV-caused tooth damage are:

  • Dilute ACV with water
  • Use a straw to drink ACV drinks
  • Thoroughly rinse your mouth out after consuming ACV

Digestive Disturbances


Gastroparesis, or partial paralysis of the stomach, is a condition that causes food to linger in the stomach longer than it should. This inability to mobilize food efficiently creates symptoms such as bloating, nausea and heartburn. Some evidence suggests that drinking ACV delays food digestion, which could only exacerbate the above symptoms.

Opinions are split on this claim. ACV advocates claim it improves digestion. If you notice unpleasant digestive disturbances after drinking ACV, then you should stop drinking it.

Lowered Potassium Levels and Bone Loss

Critics of the apple cider vinegar diet note that ACV might lower potassium levels in the body. Over time, a low potassium level could lead to bone loss.

Burning of the Throat and Skin

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Again, ACV is extremely acidic. Because of this, it might burn your throat or any skin upon contact. Avoid drinking ACV straight and dilute it with plenty of water to prevent burning.


Apple cider vinegar has a long history of being used by humans. Further scientific research could help decide if ACV is the stuff of legends and folklore of if it indeed has a place in modern medicine.

According to current evidence, the apple cider vinegar diet has the potential to improve one’s health. For safety, always speak with your doctor before adding ACV to your diet.

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