Can Apple Cider Vinegar Improve My Digestion?

by Jori Geck June 22, 2021

Apple cider vinegar has been around for centuries and research continues to grow in the areas of health and the benefits it offers. From skin health, household cleaning and home remedy's weight management, and gut health, this vinegar has been shown to provide benefits in each of these areas. We are going to discuss the importance of a healthy gut, and the various ways apple cider vinegar works to help with this issue. According to a small study, 61% of 71,812 individuals stated they suffer from gastrointestinal distress (7). Whether it's bloating, constipation, or diarrhea, over half are living with these uncomfortable symptoms associated with gut health. Let's dive into what apple cider vinegar is and the benefits apple cider vinegar offers for your gut. 

What is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is produced from crushed apples to create apple juice, then goes through a fermentation process with a series of steps. First, the juice is converted into alcohol through the addition of yeast. Acetic acid bacteria are then added to the fermented juice which converts it to acetic acid. Acetic acid is also the reason that apple cider vinegar has that acquired sour taste, and holds some of the great benefits apple cider vinegar has to offer. Acetic acid supports nutrient absorption in the body, this can work to promote overall wellness, weight loss, and even improve cholesterol levels. (2) Along with acetic acid, the process in which apple cider vinegar is made produces something called “the mother”. The mother is filled with enzymes, yeast, and bacteria that all work towards supporting gut health and provide numerous health benefits towards digestion, your gut microbiome, blood sugar, and overall health. The recommended dosing is 1-2 tablespoons per day. You drink it by itself, dilute it in a glass of water, add it to your favorite salad dressing, or take it in capsule form. 

Importance of Gut Health

Gut health is not only vital to your digestive system and stomach comfort, it dictates the effectiveness of our immune system, weight management, cardiovascular health, and more. This makes the health of our gut even more important. Signs of an unhealthy gut can include:

  • Fatigue 
  • Skin irritation 
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Bloating 
  • Gas
  • Constipation 
  • Weight irregularities
  • Weak immune system
  • Gastrointestinal disease 

Furthermore, if your gut is struggling the rest of your health will be affected as well. Let's take a look at the ways apple cider vinegar can support a healthy gut. 

Apple Cider Vinegar and Digestion

Digestive issues are becoming more common in this day in age, whether it's IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or low stomach acid. Digestive issues like these can cause uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even fatigue. If you are suffering from low stomach acid, you may also deal with excessive bloating from the bacteria buildup that can occur with low stomach acid. Apple cider vinegar may increase stomach acid due to its acidic nature and antimicrobial properties (4). This will not only decrease bloating, but it will help the breakdown of your food and support healthy digestion and nutrient absorption.

According to a clinical study, apple cider vinegar has been shown to slow down gastric emptying. Basically, this means that apple cider vinegar will slow the rate at which food leaves your stomach. This is extremely beneficial to those who suffer from IBS and other gut issues that cause irregular bowel movements (4). Now that we have discussed the health benefits apple cider vinegar offers our digestive tract, let us dive into ACV and our gut bacteria. 

Apple Cider Vinegar and Your Gut Bacteria 

Your gut bacteria is a vital part of your gastrointestinal tract. If you experience small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or other health concerns associated with an unbalanced gut microbiome then you may experience some of the symptoms below:

  • Autoimmune problems
  • Digestive problems
  • Skin rashes or acne 
  • Sugar cravings 
  • Sleep issues

Our gut holds 100 trillion good bacteria and “bad” bacteria, with about 300 to 500 different kinds. This bacteria has an important role in our gut health and is vital to our overall health, so keeping a well-balanced microbiota is essential. As mentioned prior, the “mother” in apple cider vinegar holds antimicrobial properties, this means it will kill or slow the spread of bad gut bacteria in your gut which will help balance and eliminate your microbiome. The mother is also filled with friendly bacteria that will work to improve absorption of your nutrients, improve immune health, and even decrease sugar cravings (8).  

Apple Cider Vinegar and Weight Management 

If you are attempting to lose or manage your weight and find yourself having a difficult time, that could be an indicator that your gut is unhealthy. If digestion and nutrient absorption is hindered, your body will not receive the proper nutrients or eliminate them properly to promote weight loss or management. 

As mentioned prior, if your gut microbiome is unbalanced it may result in SIBO which will make it difficult to manage weight and even result in unwanted weight loss. Apple cider vinegar will work to balance this bacteria and kill off the bad bacteria which will ultimately help support weight management. If you have impaired digestion and experience uncomfortable abdominal distention, this is a sign that your digestion needs help and could be causing excess weight. Using apple cider vinegar’s powerful enzymes and beneficial bacteria will help you process your food and absorb nutrients more efficiently. 

If you suffer from type 2 diabetes you most likely struggle with weight and gut issues as well. According to a small study, ACV also works to support your blood glucose and insulin sensitivity through its powerful components such as acetic acid and the mother (10). All of these attributes of apple cider vinegar will help you heal your gut, relieve uncomfortable gastrointestinal distress, and further support healthy weight management. 

Apple cider vinegar is not a cure-all, but using it along with the proper diet can bring positive changes and success towards your gut health and overall well-being. Implementing a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, low-carbohydrate/keto diet with your apple cider vinegar will be very effective towards your health. Before you consume apple cider vinegar, let us take a look at the possible side effects. 

Possible Side Effects 

While side effects from apple cider vinegar are rare, it's a good idea to understand the possibilities that could occur from consuming it. Due to the acidity of apple cider vinegar, it may irritate your esophagus or cause acid reflux. This may also cause potential damage to your tooth enamel. If you are taking prescribed medication, it is important to consult your doctor before implementing apple cider vinegar into your diet to ensure there are no nutrient-drug interactions that may result in low potassium levels (9). If you find yourself in one of these situations, it is best to take a step back from apple cider vinegar and work on healing those issues. 

Conclusion

Apple cider vinegar is a great tool to use to improve your gut health. Our gut health influences every aspect of our health and quality of life, it is essential to keep it functioning properly and healthy.  Whether you use it for your digestion, to balance your gut microbiota, for weight management, or all of the above, incorporating 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar will support each of these areas and more. Hopefully, this article gives you some insight into the various benefits you can gain from using ACV for your gut health. 

References

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/6-proven-health-benefits-of-apple-cider-vinegar#:~:text=Several%20studies%20in%20animals%20and,6%2C%207%2C%208%20).

https://www.healthline.com/health/gut-health

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-increase-stomach-acid#:~:text=Drink%20apple%20cider%20vinegar&text=Raw%20apple%20cider%20vinegar%20can,diabetes%2C%20and%20high%20blood%20sugar.

https://bmcgastroenterol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-230X-7-46

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/ 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6453579/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/

https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/45180

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19630216/

Jori Geck
Jori Geck

Jori Geck has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Central Michigan University. Jori is a full-time Nutritionist at NuVision Health Center and has a desire to share her passion of healing the body with food, and improving overall health in natural, sustainable ways.