Apple cider vinegar has been used as a cure-all for years. The home remedy is touted to work for everything, from weight loss to minimizing heartburn. While you’ve likely heard there are a ton of health benefits of apple cider vinegar, how it helps might remain a mystery. Experts helped us clarify what exactly apple cider is good for and shared some tips for proper usage.
Some experts, like Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Janet Allenby want to wait for more research before advising patients to use apple cider vinegar to address skin issues. Other doctors are fully on board.
To begin, it’s important to understand that not just any old ACV will do. Member of Bragg’s Scientific Advisory Board Edwin McDonald, MD, said it’s essential to reach the efficacious dose of 750mg acetic acid in order to reap the benefits. As long as you hit that number liquid, supplements or gummies can do the trick. One tablespoon of Bragg’s liquid Apple Cider Vinegar or three of their Apple Cider Vinegar capsules are equivalent to that dosage.
According to Dr. McDonald, studies have demonstrated that 750 to 1500mg per day is safe and effective. You should avoid exceeding that dosage. While it’s safe to consume at any time of day, Dr. McDonald typically recommends taking it during or after a meal to avoid the possibility of any stomach discomfort as a side effect.
Apple cider vinegar is a beneficial and easy addition to any healthy lifestyle. “One of the greatest things about apple cider vinegar is its versatility,” said Dr. McDonald. “Whether you’re diluting it in a glass of water, using it in your favorite salad dressing recipe or taking a supplement, there’s a variety of ways to fold the ingredient into your lifestyle.”
A powerful disinfectant and a useful food preservative, the benefits of apple cider vinegar extend beyond your microbiome health. There are a handful of worthwhile benefits for your body linked to apple cider vinegar that pretty much all swing back to the importance of having a healthy gut, explained Miami holistic nutritionist Grace Terrell.
“I think people tend to want to break it down into little components…. but it really has the most to do with your gut health because it’s a very holistic thing,” explained Terrell. When your gut is healthy, all your other bodily processes run smoother. Using apple cider vinegar to help heal your gut can result in stronger immunity, increased energy, lower blood sugar and more.
It’s Good for Your Gut
According to Splendid Spoon’s in-house registered dietitian, Johane Filemon, apple cider vinegar has antibacterial components that can help “support gut health and promote good gut bacteria.” Nutritionist Jennifer Hanway said apple cider vinegar can help boost gut health and digestion in a couple of ways.
“Adding it to salads and raw vegetables [as well as protein] can help break down the tough-to-digest fibers, meaning it’s easier for you to digest, and ensuring you reap the benefits of all the vitamins and minerals in those foods,” explained Hanway. Additionally, the probiotics in fermented foods can be beneficial to the health of your microbiome. To reap these benefits, Hanway said you need organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. It must come with the mother, “the darker strands of yeast and bacteria formed during fermentation.”
Terrell said apple cider vinegar “helps to stimulate your stomach acid, which is completely necessary for digestion. It helps break down your food quicker and helps you absorb more of the nutrients from your food.” Additionally, when you don’t have adequate stomach acid, it can throw off your microbiome. This can lead to bloating, trouble with digestion, acid reflux, etc. If you have depleted stomach acid, apple cider vinegar can help build it back up and mitigate those digestive challenges.
It Can Lower Blood Sugar
Dr. McDonald said Bragg’s apple cider vinegar has been clinically proven to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Filemon noted that because of this apple cider vinegar can aid in the management of type 2 diabetes. However, she encourages patients to discuss this with their healthcare provider first.
“When we eat foods that are high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, this causes our blood sugar levels to increase. In response to this, our pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin, which tells our body to store our food as fat,” explained Hanway. Clinical studies have shown that consuming apple cider vinegar, either in a meal or right after, can “significantly lower our postprandial blood glucose level (our blood sugar level after eating),” she added.
It Boosts Immunity
Filemon noted that about 70% of our immune system is housed in our gut. “If the gut is not functioning properly, this will have an adverse effect on our immune system,” she said. Because apple cider vinegar promotes good bacteria in our gut, it can also help support immune health.
Additionally, having an adequate amount of stomach acid can help protect from certain types of bacteria and viruses, said Terrell. You’re more likely to be able to combat illness when your microbiome is healthy and not dysregulated or in dysbiosis.
Apple cider vinegar can also help you get healthy when you’re ill. Some experts suggest having apple cider vinegar to benefit kidney disease, sore throats and more.
It Helps Manage Weight
Apple cider vinegar is a great tool to help you healthily manage body weight. According to Dr. McDonald Bragg’s apple cider vinegar consumption is clinically proven to help control appetite, manage weight gain and help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Studies have linked weight gain to too much acidity in the body. Because apple cider vinegar helps to alkalize or balance these levels, it is said to aid in weight loss.
It Increases Energy
It all comes back to the gut once again. “If you have poor digestion, your energy levels are going to be tanked,” said Terrell. When trying to digest a big meal that’s hard to digest, you often feel sluggish and bloated with low energy because you’re not absorbing nutrients properly, she explained. Folding apple cider vinegar into your regimen will help aid digestion and ultimately promote better energy levels.
It’s Good for Your Hair
It turns out that apple cider vinegar isn’t only good for what’s going on inside your body, it can also benefit your hair. “Apple cider vinegar can aid in ensuring healthy hair growth by protecting your scalp and keeping it clear of growth-hindering build-up,” explained New York trichologist Shab Reslan.
You may notice that apple cider vinegar can be found in some of your favorite hair and scalp products. Reslan explained that this is because the acidic properties “can help improve chemically damaged hair by lowering the hair’s pH level by sealing the cuticles.” Additionally, it can also help break up build-up in the hair, restore shine and prevent tangling. When it comes to the scalp, apple cider vinegar can balance the microbiome “by calming down any irritation or clearing up excess sebum or flakiness,” said Reslan. The antibacterial properties can also help address scalp imbalances such as psoriasis or eczema, added Reslan.
Head of research and development at Bragg, Diane Kull, said many consumers use apple cider vinegar in DIY solutions such as hair masks, rinses and scalp treatments. If you want to try using apple cider vinegar directly on your hair, Reslan said you should put two to three tablespoons of the vinegar in a filtered water bottle. It’s essential to use filtered water to prevent any mineral build-up. Wash your hair with your normal shampoo, rinse it out and ring out any excess moisture, then pour the bottle over your hair.
It’s Good for Your Skin
The anti-inflammatory and pH-regulating properties that make apple cider vinegar great for hair also help with skin, said Kull. She noted that it’s often used in DIY face masks. According to Filemon, apple cider vinegar has been shown to “help in the management of eczema, dry skin and potentially acne.” She added that it can be used as a toner or cleanser on the skin. If you plan on using apple cider vinegar on your skin, she advised spot testing a small area to see how your skin reacts before full application.
“Antioxidant-rich apple cider vinegar is a natural chemical exfoliator that helps brighten and reduce redness while minimizing the appearance of pores, post-blemish marks and reducing breakouts,” said Mark Curry, co-founder and lead formulator for The INKEY List. He added that it’s commonly used in treatments to balance pH, kill blemish-causing bacteria and address hyperpigmentation. If you’re looking to implement apple cider vinegar into your skin-care routine, The INKEY List created an Apple Cider Vinegar Acid Peel ($15).